How to Turn On/Off Excel's AutoComplete Feature

How to control AutoComplete in Excel

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

Say you're entering the same name, address, or other information into multiple cells. Without AutoComplete, you'd have to retype the data or copy and paste it over and over, which wastes time.

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.

You can do this with 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. There's no 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 different depending on the version you're using:

In Excel 2019, 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.

    Excel advanced options.
  4. Click or tap OK to save the changes and continue using Excel.

In 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.

In 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.