Alt+Enter Stopped Working Correctly

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 15, 2018)

1

Mary has been using Excel for years, and she often uses Alt+Enter to start a new line within a cell. All of a sudden this has stopped working. She made sure that the cells she is editing have wrapping turned on, but still no luck. She wonders if there is some other setting she is missing that has made Alt+Enter all of a sudden quit working as it always has in the past.

There are any number of things that could be causing this aberrant behavior. Strange as it may sound, it could just be that your computer is "confused." (That isn't an effort at humanizing computers; sometimes some setting, internal to the computer, can just get out of kilter.) To rule this out, start by exiting other programs you may have open, particularly other Office programs, such as Word. If that doesn't work, it is best to just restart your system. If this fixes it, you are lucky and can go on your way.

There are a couple of things that must be in effect in order for Alt+Enter to work properly. First, as Mary noted, text wrapping has to be turned on for the cells. Beyond this, you also need to be in edit mode. In other words, you cannot just select a cell and press Alt+Enter. You need to do something to cause Excel to believe you are editing the cell; the easiest way is to press F2 or start typing something else into the cell.

Next, you should consider that there is possibly some macro running, when the workbook was opened, that is changing how Alt+Enter is supposed to work. The easiest way to check if this is the case is to see if Alt+Enter works on other workbooks. (Get out of Excel and restart it with another workbook.) You should also try opening the problem workbook on a different system. If (1) Alt+Enter works on other workbooks or (2) the problem workbook doesn't work properly on other systems, then chances are good that it is something within the problem workbook. (Besides a macro, it could also be that the workbook has a corruption issue.)

Another thing to check is if your system has multiple Alt keys. If it does, how the keys are interpreted by the keyboard and by Excel may differ. Try using Alt+Enter with one Alt key and then with the other to see if you get different results.

If the Alt+Enter problem is exhibited on all the workbook on your system, then try using Alt+Enter in other programs, such as Word. If it doesn't work there, then chances are good that there is a hardware problem—your keyboard is malfunctioning. Check to see if the issue is with both Alt keys on the keyboard or with only one. You might also want to try a different keyboard with your system.

Finally, speaking of keyboards, you might want to check to make sure that your keyboard, within Windows, is not set to a foreign language. If it is, then it might not understand what you are pressing when you press Alt+Enter.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (5653) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Understanding the Normalize Text Command

Word includes tons of internal commands that you can access as you customize your system. One of these is the Normalize ...

Discover More

Changing Line Color in a Drawing Object

Don't like the color of the lines that Excel chose for your drawing object? It's easy to choose your own colors, as ...

Discover More

Typing Pronunciations of Words

Take a look in a dictionary at the way that words are phonetically spelled. Those special characters used to type those ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Copying and Pasting Non-Contiguous Ranges of Cells

Excel makes it easy to copy and paste a range of cells. Easy, that is, unless the range isn't contiguous. If you have a ...

Discover More

Uncovering and Removing Links

Excel allows you to reference data in other workbooks by establishing links to that data. If you later want to get rid of ...

Discover More

AutoFilling Numbers with a Trailing Period

The AutoFill tool is very handy when it comes to quickly filling cells with a sequence of values. Sometimes, however, it ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is nine more than 3?

2018-09-26 03:58:55

Marwa

Hello there!

Recently I've been experiencing the same issue, the Alt + Enter key is not working in the cells (edit mood) though the "Left Alt + Enter) works normally.
I thought the "right Alt" key is malfunctioning but when I press "Right Alt + F4" it closes the program normally,,, by some trials I found out that the language settings are on the English united Kingdome, (I installed recently) when I changed it to English United state , it worked Normally.
my guess is that the "Alt+ Enter " function has something to do with the language setting too.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.