What Does F2 Do in Excel?

The F2 key is a great shortcut that you can use in Microsoft Excel.

The F2 key gets you into the edit mode in a cell in Excel, which allows you to edit the content of the cell or copy the value or formula in that cell.

In this guide, we’ll explain what the F2 shortcut does and how to use it to make your Excel work easier.

What Does F2 Do in Excel? 

If you have the function keys enabled, you will have to use Fn + F2 instead of the F2 key

When you press the F2 key, you activate the editing mode within Microsoft Excel.

So when you select a cell and then press the F2 key, you will see that your cursor starts blinking in that cell.

Once your cursor is in the cell, you can:

  • Type any text, numbers, or formulas which would be entered starting from where you have the cursor
  • Move the cursor using the arrow keys (in case you already have some content in the cell)
  • Use the backspace key to delete one character on the left or the delete key to remove one character on the right of the cursor.
  • Hold the SHIFT key and press the arrow keys to select multiple characters in the cell

Another quick way to get into the Edit mode in a cell in Excel is to bring the mouse cursor to the cell and then double-click over that cell.

Note that you can only get into the edit mode for one cell at a time. So even if you have selected a range of cells, and then you press the F2 key, it is only going to put the cursor in the active cell

Also, when you have a formula result in a cell, and you press the F2 key to get into the edit mode, you will see the entire formula in the cell (instead of the formula result).

Advanced Excel Stuff: As soon as you press the F2 can get into the edit mode in a cell, you will notice the Cell Mode status in the Status Bar changes from Ready to Edit (see the image below)

Edit Mode in Excel

The Two F2 Modes in Excel

Most Excel users know that when you press the F2 key, you get into the Edit mode, where you can make changes in the cell such as editing the formula or text/numeric content in the cell.

But not many people know that there are two modes that you can activate using the F2 key in Excel.

Edit Mode in Excel

When you select a cell and press the F2 key once, you are in Edit mode (which is also shown in the status bar).

Edit Mode in Excel

In this mode, you can type or change the cell content, and when you use the arrow keys, you will move the cursor within in the cell itself.

Enter Mode in Excel

When you select a cell and press the F2 key twice, you are in the Enter mode in the cell in Excel (which can be seen in the status bar).

Enter mode in Excel

In the Enter mode, while you can select and edit the content in the cell, when you use the arrow key, instead of moving the cursor within the cell, the cursor is actually moved to the cells in the direction where you used the arrow.

For example, when you are in the Enter mode, and you press the right arrow key, the cursor will go and select the cell on the right of the active cell.

This is useful when you’re writing a formula, and you want to refer to a specific cell.

Instead of manually writing the reference of the cell, you can use the arrow key to move to that cell, and the reference of that cell would automatically be placed in the active cell, which is in the Enter mode.

Why is F2 Key Not Working on My Laptop?

The most common reason the F2 key may not be working on your Excel file is that you have the Function keys enabled.

In this case, you need to use the F2 key, you will have to use the Function + F2 key (hold the Fn key and then press the F2 key)

How To Use the F2 key On Mac?

  1. On your Mac, go to the Apple menu > System Settings, then click Keyboard in the sidebar. 
  2. Next, select Keyboard Shortcuts, then click Function Keys.
  3. Turn on the feature that says, ‘Use F1, F2, etc as function keys’”’.

In this article, I showed you what the F2 key could do in Excel.

When you select a cell and press the F2 key, you get into the edit mode that allows you to change the cell’s content.

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