How to Use Undo, Redo, and Repeat in Excel

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Keyboard Shortcuts for Undo, Redo or Repeat in Excel

Undo and Redo Options on the Quick Access Toolbar in Excel
Undo and Redo Options on the Quick Access Toolbar. © Ted French
  • Undo - undoes a number of recent actions in a worksheet - such as deletions, formatting changes, data moves, or formula edits.
  • By default, the Undo button is located on the Quick Access Toolbar, as shown in the image above.
  • Keyboard shortcutCtrl + z
  • Redo - re-apply or undo what you just undid. If you change your mind about changes you have just made to a worksheet with the Undo command, you can re-apply one or more changes with Redo.
  • By default, the Redo button located next to Undo on the Quick Access Toolbar.
  • Keyboard shortcutCtrl + y
  • Repeat - repeat your last action - such as applying the most recent formatting change to multiple cells one at a time.
  • Repeat is linked to the Redo command, so the two are never active at the same time
  • Keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + y
  • Repeat button is not present on the Quick Access Toolbar by default but must be added to the toolbar.

Multiple Undos or Redos

Next to each of these icons on the Quick Access Toolbar is a small down arrow. Clicking on this arrow opens a drop down menu showing the list of items that can be undone or redone.

By highlighting a number of items in this list you can undo or redo multiple steps at one time.

Undo and Redo Limits

Recent versions of Excel and all other Microsoft Office programs have a default undo/redo maximum 100 actions. Prior to Excel 2007, the undo limit was 16.

For computers running the Windows operating system, this limit can be altered by editing the operating system's registry settings.

How Undo and Redo Work

Excel uses a portion of the computer's RAM memory to maintain a list or stack of recent changes to a worksheet.

The Undo/Redo combination of commands allows you to move forward and backward through the stack to remove or re-apply those changes in the order they were first made.

Example - If you are trying to undo some recent formatting changes, but accidentally go one step too far and undo something you wanted to keep, rather than having to go through the necessary formatting steps to get it back, clicking on the Redo button will advance the stack forward one step bringing back that last format change.

Repeat and Redo

As mentioned, Redo and Repeat are linked so that the two mutually exclusive, in that when the Redo command is active, Repeat is not and vice versa.

Example - Changing the color of text in  cell A1 to red activates the Repeat button on the Quick Access Toolbar, but deactivates Redo as shown in the image above.

This means that this formatting change can be repeated on the contents of another cell - such as B1, but the color change in A1 cannot be redone.

Conversely, undoing the color change in A1 activates Redo, but deactivates Repeat meaning that the color change can be "redone" in cell A1 but it cannot be repeated in another cell.

If the Repeat button has been added to the Quick Access Toolbar, it will change to the Redo  button when there is no action in the stack that can be repeated.

Undo, Redo Limitations Eliminated

In  Excel 2003 and earlier versions of the program, once a workbook was saved, the Undo stack was erased, preventing you from undoing any actions carried out prior to the save.

Since Excel 2007,  this limitation has been removed, allowing users to save changes regularly but still be able to undo/redo previous actions.