Alt+Enter Stopped Working Correctly

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 15, 2018)

11

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. ...

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What is 9 + 5?

2021-08-04 23:08:44

Mike

Re your article:
Alt+Enter Stopped Working Correctly by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 15, 2018)
I removed Ink Correction from the keyboard setup in Control Panel and that fixed it.
It also fixed the problem that I couldn't insert an apostrophe with also hitting the space bar.


2020-10-23 11:05:41

Michelle

My peripheral keyboard was the issue. My laptop is connected to my keyboard, which is normally used for my desktop computer, and when I tried Alt + Enter it wasn't working. After reading the article and seeing that it could be a hardware issue (which I wouldn't have guessed) I tried it directly from my laptop it worked fine. Thanks so much!


2020-10-15 14:49:22

Allan

After entering something in a cell, Alt+Enter automatically turns on Text wrapping, at least in Excel 2007.


2020-10-15 02:13:39

Mathew

For me worked Alt + Shift instead of Alt + Enter as a new line command.


2020-07-01 05:42:19

Bharat

If you are facing an issue of "Alt+Enter" not working in the excel then Press "Insert" key and and Guess What...! you problem is solved....!! :)
now you can use Alt+Enter function in your excel...... I was facing the same issue hence, I tried many things suggested by people in different forums but it din't work for me....I was looking at key board to figured it out my own ways and suddenly, my eye stopped at "Insert" key. I thought let me try with Insert key if it works and surprisingly, I was able use Alt+Enter in excel after pressing the 'insert" key...


2020-07-01 04:57:58

Bharat

If you are facing an issue of "Alt+Enter" not working in the excel then Press "Insert" key and and Guess What...! you problem is solved....!! :)
now you can use Alt+Enter function in your excel......


2020-01-16 11:40:57

Sandhya

Alt (Left side of space bar) + Enter worked for me


2019-12-21 00:51:26

Bhupesh Arora

Thanks for helping. In My case, there are two ALT keys. ALT+Enter is working with using one of the ALT keys, and not with other!


2019-09-27 05:29:55

Sharik

The Alt + Enter command has changed

Press Windows + Alt + Enter

For Line Break in Excel.


2019-05-17 04:14:10

Dragos Florin Gogu

Also, (if you have installed and it is open) Facebook Gameroom is interfering.


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.


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