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How to Deselect Cells in Excel (3 Pro Tips!)

Whenever I do Microsoft Excel training, I tell participants that working in Excel requires a “select then do” approach.

If you want to format a row of cells, you select them then apply your formatting. If you want to delete several values in a worksheet, you select them and press delete.

No matter what you’re doing, you always need select the cells you want to change or update first – which leads me to the purpose of this article.

At one time or another, every Excel user has inadvertently selected too many cells… if this has ever happened to you, you’ll find this article helpful!

Here are 3 ways you can deselect cells.

1) Click Outside of the Selected Range

Any time you select more cells than you want to, you can click outside of the selected range and simply try again.

In the screenshot below, I wanted to select B2:E5 but I ended up with a larger range of cells selected. If I click anywhere outside of the selected cells, I deselect the range of cells and I can click and drag to select B2:E5.

Selected cells

2) Use the CTRL Key to Deselect a Range of Cells

In this example, I want to deselect the range of cells in column F and the cells within row 6.

I would hold the CTRL key then click and drag to deselect the range of cells in F1:F6. Then, I would deselect the range of cells in B6:E6 while continuing to hold the CTRL key.

Totals selected

3) Use Shift + Arrow Keys to Deselect Cells or Ranges

This last method is rather old school but, if I’m being honest, I’m a little old school too!

To select the range of cells shown in the screenshot below, I would click in cell B2 then press Shift + the right and down arrow keys to select cells to the right and below that cell.

To deselect cells, I would hold the Shift button and press the left and up arrow keys.

Selected cells

What’s Next?

I hope you enjoyed these tips on how to deselect cells in Excel. If you want to continue your journey, be sure to check out our collection of Excel shortcuts.

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.