How to Select All in MS Excel? [Easy Guide]

How to select all in MS

At times, when we need to introduce a change in the dataset, formatting the cells, for instance, selecting only a few cells won’t be sufficient to apply these changes. The entire set of data is to be selected to apply the changes throughout.  There might be a couple of ways to execute this & we would cover both in course of this article.

Here are the different ways of selecting all the cells,

  1. Using the Keyboard Shortcut
  2. Using the Navigation Keys

We would be trying to select the cells of the below dataset using each of the above-listed methods.

Sample Dataset
Sample Data

1. Using the Keyboard Shortcut

Now for the above dataset, there could be two situations in which:

  • all the data would be in the format of a table
  • or would be in the form of a plain range

Nevertheless, we shall see how to select everything in both cases using the keyboard shortcut method.

Let’s consider the first case in which the data involved is in a table format. One can confirm whether the data is in a table format or not, by clicking on any cells within the data and looking for the Table Tools tab. This tab shall appear at the very last position in the list of default tabs as shown below.

Locating Table Tools Tab
Locating the Table Tools Tab

Here cell A1 is the active cell, but when the active cell moves outside the range of the table, the Table Tools tab would disappear from the list of tabs.

Upon confirming that the given dataset is a table, click on any cells within the range of that table and use the keyboard shortcut, CTRL + A to select all the cells of the table.

Focus on pressing the cells one after the other, as in first press the ‘CTRL’ key and without lifting the finger off that key, hit the letter key ‘A’. Once this is done, all the cells within the range of the table gets selected as shown in the below image,

Selecting entire table
Selecting the Entire Table

But for any reason, our requirement is to select the entire sheet rather than only the contents of the table in this sheet, we can also do that by repeating the same step. Hit CTRL+A using the same sequence as stated above and the entire sheet gets selected.

Selecting entire sheet
Selecting the Entire Sheet

In the above image, the entire sheet gets selected once you hit CTRL + A twice.

Now comes the other occasion where the dataset is not in the format of the table, but as a plain range of data. This can also be identified by clicking on any cell of the dataset & looking out for the Table Tools tabs.

If that ain’t visible, it ain’t a table!

No Table Tools Tab 1
No Table Tools Tab

But, here’s the catch with the plain range datasets, when CTRL+A is pressed only the entire sheet gets selected and not the cells with the data alone.

2. Using the Navigation Keys

Identify whether the dataset is in table format or not through the steps mentioned in the above method. If it’s a table, go to the top-left cell of that table using the CTRL and arrow keys. Press CTRL key & then the left arrow (←) key to move the active cell to the leftmost cell in the active row & then hit up arrow (↑) key without removing that finger off the CTRL-key.

CTRL + ←, followed by CTRL + ↑

Now the active cell would be the top-left cell of the table.

Sample Dataset 1
Active Cell at the Top-Left Position

After this, press the SHIFT key followed by the down arrow (↓) key to select the entire active column of the table as shown below.


Selecting entire column
Selecting an Entire Column

Then, without lifting the finger off the SHIFT key, hit the right arrow key (→) to select the entire table.


Selecting entire table 1
Selecting an Entire Table

Press SHIFT + ↓, followed by SHIFT + → again if the entire sheet is to be selected instead of only the cells with the data.

Selecting entire sheet 1
Selecting an Entire Sheet

If the data belongs to a plain range & not a table, the same steps mentioned above for the data in a table format can be repeated. But here, there won’t be a need to do SHIFT + ↓, followed by SHIFT + → twice, since the entire sheet will be selected the very first time they are used.


Now that we’ve covered 2 different ways to select all the cells in MS Excel, do watch out our space, QuickExcel to more such tips and tricks. Cheers!