How to Use Undo, Redo, and Repeat in Excel

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The undo button in Excel reverts your worksheet to the state it was in just before you performed the most recent action. Redo has the opposite effect, redoing what you've just undone, such as if you accidentally delete something. Repeat lets you perform the same operation you completed on one cell, such as changing the font color, in additional cells.

Specific situations call for using undo, redo, and repeat. Knowing which one to use, and how to use it, will help you work more quickly and automate tasks. You can access the redo, repeat and undo buttons from the Excel menu, or you can use keyboard shortcuts.

These instructions apply to Excel 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, and Excel for Office 365.

How Undo Works in Excel

Excel's undo feature lets you quickly reverse previous actions. For example, you might use it to perform one of the following tasks:

  • Get a formula back that you just deleted from a cell
  • Move a cell to its previous location after a move
  • Resize a row or column you accidentally made too large or too small
  • Re-insert a chart that you removed

Excel is unable to undo some actions including clicking menu items, saving files, and deleting sheets.

Windows users can undo in Excel with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z while Mac users can press Command+Z. You can repeat these keyboard shortcuts more than once to undo more actions.

A screenshot of Excel's Undo button with a drop-down menu showing all actions that can be undone.

Another way to use the undo option in Excel is through the Quick Access Toolbar, that runs across the top of Excel spreadsheets. Look for the icon with an arrow pointing to the left. The exact location of this icon will differ depending on which version of Excel you're using.

In desktop versions, selecting the smaller downward-pointing arrow next to the icon shows all the previous actions that you can undo one at a time or several at once.

Limitations of Undo in Excel

The maximum number of undo actions you can perform by default is 100. Windows users can adjust the limit to a smaller number by tweaking the Windows Registry. You can find the threshold stored in the UndoHistory value located in the HKCU hive, under \Software\Microsoft\Office\<version>\Options\.

Editing your Windows Registry can severely damage your install of Windows. Only do so if you are familiar with the process.

How Redo Works in Excel

Redo is helpful when you accidentally hit the Undo button.

You can perform a redo using the Ctrl+Y keyboard shortcut in Windows or Command+Y on a Mac. Like the undo action, redo can be performed multiple times by using the same keyboard shortcut over and over.

A screenshot of Excel's Redo button with a drop-down menu showing all actions that can be redone.

The Quick Access Toolbar also has a Redo button right next to the undo button; its icon is an arrow pointing to the right.

Limitations of Redo in Excel

You can only redo the last 100 undo actions. You can't redo something unless that action was affected by an undo action. For example, since you can't undo a worksheet deletion, redo can't make changes to worksheet tabs.

How Repeat Works in Excel

The repeat action in Excel utilizes the same shortcuts as redo (Ctrl+Y for Windows and Command+Y for Mac). Repeat lets you repeat the most recent thing you did in a different cell or cells.

The mobile versions of Excel and Excel Online do not support the repeat feature.

For example, if you apply red text to one cell, you can click another cell (or even multiple cells) and repeat the same formatting style to those cells. The repeat option can be used for other things, too, such as inserting and deleting columns and rows.

Repeat isn't available in the Quick Access Toolbar by default.

A screenshot of Excel's Options dialog box for customizing the Quick Access Toolbar.

To access it, either use the keyboard shortcut or add it to the toolbar using the following steps:

  1. Click the drop-down arrow all the way on the right side of the Quick Access Toolbar.

  2. Select More Commands.

  3. At the top of the dialog box, select Popular Commands from the drop-down.

  4. Select Repeat from the list of commands, which are in alphabetical order.

  5. Click Add >>.

  6. Click OK.

Limitations of Repeat in Excel

Repeat and Redo are never available at the same time. The Redo button is available only after you undo an action; the Repeat button is available after you've made a change to the worksheet.

Repeat button in Excel

For example: If you change the color of the text in cell A1 to blue, then the Repeat button on the Ribbon is active, and the Redo button is grayed out. So you can repeat the formatting change on another cell, such as B1, but you can't redo the color change in A1.

Conversely, undoing the color change in A1 activates the redo option, but it deactivates repeat. Therefore, you can redo the color change in cell A1, but you can't repeat it in another cell.

Excel Memory Stack

Excel uses a portion of the computer's RAM to maintain a list (often called a stack) of recent changes made 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.

Let's say you're trying to undo some recent formatting changes, but you accidentally go one step too far. Rather than having to go through the necessary formatting steps to get it back, selecting redo will advance the stack forward one step and bring back that last format change.