Excel Shortcuts Not Working – Possible Reasons + How to Fix?

Shortcuts refer to the combination of keys used to complete repetitive tasks instead of scrolling through various ribbons to achieve the same objective.

These shortcuts come in handy when you are working on lengthy tasks and want to move quickly through the basic operations.

Excel has many shortcuts that help us accelerate while working on Excel sheets.

However, they frustrate users when does not work in the usual order.

The main objective of this article is to identify the possible reasons for shortcuts not working in Microsoft Excel and their possible solutions. 

Issue #1: Excel Shortcut Not Working Because of Media Keys

Modern computers and laptops come with media keys that let the user control different media functions from the keyboard.

These media keys were not included in the traditional 104 keyboards.

Furthermore, media keys perform functions like Play, Pause, Next Track, Previous Track, volume Increase, volume Decrease, etc, and are mostly present at the top of the keyboard as highlighted in the below figure.

Function keys in modern keyboards

The media keys could be handy when we are watching some videos or movies., etc but on the other hand, when we are working in Excel it conflicts with Excel’s shortcut keys.

In addition, these keys are set as primary by default.

Such as, normally F2 shortcut key is used to edit a cell in Excel but in the presence of media keys pressing F2 decrease the brightness of your screen instead of editing a cell.

Similarly, the F11 key is used to open charts in Excel but with media keys on a keyboard, it won’t work. So how to fix it?

Solution 1: Use Function Key in Combination with Media Key

The interference of media keys in the working of Excel shortcuts can be quickly rectified by the addition of a function key to the already known combination of keys.

This addition of the function key deactivates the media keys for time being and thus Excel shortcuts will work as if there are no media keys.

For instance, in order to edit a cell press Fn + F2 instead of just F2 on the keyboard. similarly to open the chart press Fn +11 instead of just the F11 key.

Furthermore, with all media keys press the Fn key this will resolve the problem. The below diagram shows the illustration of editing a cell using Fn + F11

Function + F2 key

Solution 2: Disable Media keys

Likewise, if you want to get rid of media keys and don’t want to press the Fn key each time in combination with media keys you can do so too.

Just go to your system bios setting and change the Function Key Behavior option to [Function key] in lieu of [media Key].

Also read: Excel Not Responding – 10 Ways To Fix It!

Issue # 2 Excel Shortcut Keys Not Working Because of Language Bars

The number of languages in Windows depends on user preferences.

Some people have more than one language activated on their system, and thus language shortcuts might have overridden the routine shortcuts.

To troubleshoot the problem at hand, follow the steps for alteration of assigned shortcut keys to the languages.

  1. Click on the language bar on the right-hand of the taskbar and open the language preferences from the extended menu.
Select Language Preferences
  1. Click on ‘Date, time, and regional formatting’ in the opened window
Select Dare time and regional settings
  1. Click on the Language option on the left-hand side of the screen and select Keyboard in the newly opened window as shown in the figure.
Select the keyboard option
  1. A new window will be opened after clicking on the keyboard. Click on the input language hotkeys available on the left-hand side of the screen. Open the key sequence and change shortcut combinations using the steps shown below.
change shortcut combinations
  1. Click on Apply and then Ok to complete the procedure. The aforementioned method will resolve any shortcut issues related to language settings.
Also read: Excel Fill Series Not Working

Issue # 3 Excel Shortcut Not Working Because of Different Keyboard Layout

The keyboard layout of a computer or laptop changes with language changes.

It means that the shortcut keys applicable in the English language case will no longer be practical when the user has changed the language to Spanish even if he/she is using the same keyboard.

Most of the shortcut keys available online are for an English keyboard and thus became useless once you have switched the languages.

The configuration of English and Spanish keyboards is shown in the following figures with a few demonstrations of key location variations.

Different language keyboards

The above picture clearly shows the differences between the two keyboards.

If you are using a different keyboard, try searching for shortcuts related to the particular keyboard on google rather than using the common shortcuts.

Also read: Can’t Insert a Row in Excel – How to Fix!

Issue # 4 Excel shortcut not working on Macbook keyboard

Most of the information available online about Excel shortcuts is based on the Windows keyboard.

If you are using Excel on Macbook then your shortcut keys will be different from those available online.

The main difference between Windows and MacBook keyboards is the inclusion of option, control, and command key.

A pictorial representation of these differences is given in the following figure.

difference between Windows and MacBook keyboards

The function of the command key is similar to that of the control key on the windows keyboard, however, shortcuts involving the Alt key get altered significantly.

The comparison between some excel shortcuts is given in the following table for demonstration.

CommandWindows KeyboardMacBook Keyboard

Thus while using Excel on MacBook, one must search for shortcuts applicable to it rather than trying shortcuts on the windows keyboard.

Also read: How to Turn OFF Scroll Lock In Excel?

Issue # 5 Excel Shortcut not working because the same shortcut is assigned to a macro

Macros are an important part of Microsft Excel and are used to avoid doing repetitive tasks.

Macros enable us to record a set of steps that we perform on regular basis and then automate it.

Microsft Excel provides its users with the capability of assigning a shortcut key to start the macro.

There is a possibility that the user might assign a shortcut key to their macro which contradicts the usual shortcuts and thus results in problems while using that shortcut key.

The following section will explain the procedure of checking your macros shortcut keys for troubleshooting such problems.

  1. Click on the Developer tab at the top of the screen and open the macro in the newly appeared window.
Click on Macros
  1. Click on Options in the newly opened window. The pop-up window will show the shortcut key assigned to a particular macro. Make sure that none of the macros have shortcut keys conflicting with usual shortcuts.
Change shortcut key assigned to macros
  1. Change the shortcut key according to your needs and then click OK. This change of macro shortcuts will solve any issues related to Excel shortcuts.

Shortcuts are important in Excel and help us in speeding up routine tasks.

There are several reasons behind problems related to shortcut keys.

Most of these problems are related to the inclusion of macros, installation of software that overrides the general shortcuts, and language variations.

The possible causes of shortcut problems along with solutions were discussed in this article.

Hopefully, it will solve your problems.

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I am a huge fan of Microsoft Excel and love sharing my knowledge through articles and tutorials. I work as a business analyst and use Microsoft Excel extensively in my daily tasks. My aim is to help you unleash the full potential of Excel and become a data-slaying wizard yourself.

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