Excel Custom Shortcuts – Reaping real benefits of Quick Access Toolbar

Many excel beginners especially those who are using version 2007 and later a small bar which is by default placed above ribbon alongside the title bar and many recognize it for its UNDO button. Well it deserves a respect because if it is a toolbar than actually it means efficiency and by overlooking it we are overlooking some serious muscles we can add to our excel productivity. And above that it is a quick access one. It makes this toolbar an undisputed champion among other toolbars. Hey! hold on do we have any other toolbar in excel???

Reason why quick access toolbar is one great gadget excel has up its sleeve are following:

  • You can customize it. I will take up this discussion in another excel lesson as this area is too interesting to be discussed inside another lesson
  • You can custooooommmmmize iiiiit! Cannot emphasize more than this
  • The only toolbar you have on excel’s face since menu bar is forsaken by developers at Microsoft with the launch of 2007 version
  • Many excel users just cannot get over the addiction of having a toolbar as they used to work in previous versions of excel.
  • Custom shortcut keys -and this is my topic of discussion

Shortcut keys makes you work faster and better and keeps you from using mouse and making wrong clicks and other botheration. And able to make custom shortcut keys and above that able to make them super easy is just EXCELlent.

How to do it? Shortcuts to “Quickcuts”!

Basically what we are after to have frequently used feature of excel in the quick access toolbar. Once we have it there, quick access toolbar will assign a custom shortcut to that feature automatically. Simple!

We can have custom shortcuts in two ways:

  • Selecting features from the drop down menu of quick access toolbar
  • Shortcut way to shortcut keys by adding features right from the ribbon. I name shortcuts in quick access toolbar as “quickcuts”
  • Customizing quick access toolbar – as said earlier I will discuss this in a separate excel tutorial

Loading up your arsenal! – Drop down menu selection

You can add some features by clicking the small drop down icon just right to the quick access toolbar. It provides some limited features to be added which you can select or deselect as you will.

qat add by drop down

Adding real fire power – Adding features from ribbon

Adding shortcuts to quick access toolbar (QAT) is very easy. Most of the features we use are right in the ribbon. But problem is we have to navigate to that tab and then click it or remember a long combination of Alt key combos. Having same feature in in QAT we will get two benefits:

  • Most probably the same feature is visible directly
  • We have a shorter shortcut key

To add features:

  • IF that feature is in the ribbon: navigate to that feature by going into its respective tab and locating that feature. Right click on it and select “Add to Quick Access Toolbar” and the icon of that feature will be added up in QAT.
  • IF that feature is NOT in the ribbon: in this case we have to customize the QAT which I will discuss in another tutorial

qat adding from ribbon

Populate your QAT with the features you use mostly. You can add as many things as you want but flooding QAT will cause only specific number of icons (depending on your screen resolution or application window size) to be displayed directly on screen and the remaining will be folded in the form of drop down menu. QAT can only be displayed in a single line form and cannot be in multiple lines. So you have some fixed real estate to work in. So make your selection wisely.

One technical bit

In ribbon we have two kinds of buttons:

  • simple buttons – if you add them normal button will be added
  • drop down buttons – a drop down will be added to QAT
  • buttons with drop down menu – if you hover cursor over button part and add it to QAT only button will be added. If you hover over drop down arrow and then add it it will add not only button but also drop down menu function with it. Cool! One thing however, I noted some buttons don’t behave. Don’t know if it is a bug.

qat different buttons

I recommend you should add such features to QAT for which there is no dedicated shortcut key or have considerably long shortcut keys. Features like Autosum, in my opinion needs not to be added in QAT as we already have a nifty shortcut for that and it will occupy space that could have been used for other important feature used frequently. So it will be better if you remember the shortcuts that can be memorized easily

Make formation! Wait for orders! Attack!

Once we have the icons in the quick access toolbar, excel will assign the shortcut keys automatically, depending on the order of icons in QAT as:

  • Alt+1, Alt+2, Alt+3, Alt+4, Alt+5, Alt+6, Alt+7, Alt+8, Alt+9; once this limit reaches next will not be Alt+10 rather;
  • Alt+09, Alt+08, Alt+07…… up to Alt+01; if even this range falls short excel will then assign shortcuts as;
  • Alt+0a, Alt+0b…. etc

If you don’t remember the custom shortcut key for a particular icon simply tap Alt key once and excel will highlight the key or key combination you need to press.

qat executing commands

Rearranging or removing the icons in the quick access toolbar

Removing icons from quick access toolbar is easy. Simply right click on icon you want to drop and click “Remove from Quick Access Toolbar”

remove from qat

Changing the order of icons in QAT, however, is a matter of customizing quick access toolbar which, again, I will discuss… aaah I think I should have made that lesson already…

Quick Bonus Tip

You can show quick access toolbar below ribbon if you find it to be too above your line of sight. Simply right click and select show below ribbon and it will jump right under the ribbon and settle between ribbon and address/formula bar.

qat below ribbon