How to Turn On/Off Excel's AutoComplete Feature

How to control AutoComplete in Excel

Excel 2007 Options Button
© Ted French

The AutoComplete option in Microsoft Excel will automatically fill in data as you type, but it isn't always useful in every circumstance.

Fortunately, you can disable or enable AutoComplete whenever you like.

When You Should and Shouldn't Use AutoComplete

This feature is great when entering data into a worksheet that contains lots of duplicates. With AutoComplete on, when you start typing, it will auto-fill the rest of the information from the context around it, to speed up data entry quite a bit. Information can be automatically suggested to you based on what was typed just before it.

This type of configuration is great when you're entering the same name, address, or other information into multiple cells. Without AutoComplete, you'd have to retype the data you want to be duplicated, or copy and paste it over and over, which could take a very long time in some scenarios.

For example, if you typed "Mary Washington" in the first cell and then many other things in the following ones, like "George" and "Harry," you can type "Mary Washington" again a lot faster by just typing "M" and then pressing Enter so that Excel will auto-type the full name.

This can be done for any number of text entries in any cell in any series, meaning that you could then type "H" at the bottom to have Excel suggest "Harry," and then type "M" again if you need to have that name auto-completed. At no point do you need to copy or paste any data.

However, AutoComplete isn't always your friend. If you don't need to duplicate anything, it will still auto-suggest it each time you start typing something that shares the same first letter as the previous data, which can often be more of a bother than a help. 

Enable/Disable AutoComplete in Excel

The steps for enabling or disabling AutoComplete in Microsoft Excel are a little different depending on the version you're using:

Excel 2016, 2013, and 2010

  1. Navigate to the File > Options menu.
  2. In the Excel Options window, open Advanced on the left.
  3. Under the Editing Options section, toggle Enable AutoComplete for cell values on or off depending on whether you want to turn this feature on or disable it.
  4. Click or tap OK to save the changes and continue using Excel.

Excel 2007

  1. Click the Office Button.
  2. Choose Excel Options to bring up the Excel Options dialog box.
  3. Choose Advanced in the pane to the left.
  4. Click the box next to the Enable AutoComplete for cell values option box to turn this feature on or off.
  5. Choose OK to close the dialog box and return to the worksheet.

Excel 2003

  1. Navigate to Tools > Options from the menu bar to open the Options dialog box.
  2. Choose the Edit tab.
  3. Toggle AutoComplete on/off with the checkmark box next to the Enable AutoComplete for cell values option.
  4. Click OK to save the changes and return to the worksheet.