Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Excel cell selection won't unselect

If you have ever had the problem where one or more Excel cells, sometimes over more than one spreadsheets, won't unselect and you can see the fill handles on all the bottom right of all the cell ranges selected, which are all highlighted and white (ie, no blue cells as secondary selections), there are a couple of things that might be causing it.

This is called 'extended select mode' when deliberate, or 'stuck cells' or 'ghosted cells' if not. Ghosted cells may extend to other open applications, not simply Excel.
  1. Fixing extended select mode: if you can see 'EXT' or 'ADD' in the lower right-hand corner of your spreadsheet - and, of the selected cells, the cell with the fill-handle is white and the rest are blue - then you are using the 'extended select mode' which is an Excel multiple-select feature. To repair, select any cell in the range and key F8, to toggle this off.

  2. Fixing stuck cells: if you cannot see 'EXT' or 'ADD' in the lower right-hand corner of your spreadsheet, but two or more of your sheets in your workbook have cells selected on them, and all of the cells selected are white (ie, none are blue), then you probably have stuck cells. This can happen because you have inadvertently activated 'Sticky' keys. Key the Shift key five times to deactivate. You can change how this feature turns on and off here to prevent recurrences.

  3. Fixing ghosted cells: If you have a number of Windows applications with selected areas, then you may well have ghosted cells. To repair, try holding the Alt key down and clicking the Tab key to scroll through the open Windows applications. Try checking in Tools | Options | General and removing any value specified in the Alternate Startup location in Excel. There are a lot of possible fixes for ghosted cells, and you may need to work through a range of solutions until you find your magic bullet, here and here.
Number 2 worked for me. Hopefully one of those solutions will see you right.

Sam

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