Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007 and 2010. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard.

Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 19, 2015)


The Formula bar, just above the work area in Excel, shows the formula or value in the currently selected cell. You can click on the formula bar to edit information within a cell, if desired. What if you want to activate the Formula bar by using the keyboard, however?

The quickest way to do this is simply to press F2. This tells Excel that you want to edit the contents of a cell. When you press F2, it is highly possible that Excel will simply expand the information in the cell and allow you to edit the information directly in the cell itself. If you don't like this behavior, but instead want F2 to activate the Formula bar, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click the Advanced option at the left of the dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Allow Editing Directly In Cell check box is cleared.
  5. Click on OK.

Now, whenever you press F2, the Formula bar is selected and you can edit the formula there.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6174) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Activating the Formula Bar with the Keyboard.

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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Comments for this tip:

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What is nine minus 3?

2016-12-11 11:38:57


I needed this!

2016-11-30 08:34:48

zaheer Ahmed


2016-11-14 23:54:06

M. C. Basak

Useful tip. Thanks.

2016-07-14 16:57:45

Patricia A. Madson

How do I change the formula to add all the boxes across the top

2016-02-27 04:19:58

prasenjit bera

Give me Very useful tip. Thank you.

2016-01-15 23:43:28



2015-10-19 10:31:01


Very useful tip. Thank you.

2015-10-19 10:29:17


As others have said, after pressing F2, press "Home" to get to the beginning/far left. Afterwards, if you want to get to the end/far right, press "End". If you want to get somewhere in the middle, well, start pressing those arrow keys. ctrl-[arrowkey] will skip "words", so you might find that to be slightly faster.

2015-10-19 09:42:00

This is wonderful! I do have a question about how to get the cursor at the beginning instead of the end. Is this possible?

Wijnand Engelkes 19 Oct 2015, 09:22
@Surendera: F2 and press "Home" key


2015-10-19 09:29:56


This is wonderful! I do have a question about how to get the cursor at the beginning instead of the end. Is this possible?

2015-10-19 09:22:42

Wijnand Engelkes

@Surendera: F2 and press "Home" key

2015-10-19 08:08:01

Surendera M. Bhanot

I want that when I press F2, the cursor should be at the beginning of the cell and not at the end, as default.

Alternatively, how can I control of the position of cursor in a cell on pressing F2


2014-09-05 05:39:16

Rishi Vaish

I learned and used it. It provides user friendly easier.

2014-01-16 12:10:03


This appears to be for persons already familiar with excel.
what do offer for person who have never seen or used excel? I need visuals that demonstrate/point out.

2014-01-06 18:00:44


Wonderful and useful tip..thanks a ton

2013-10-17 03:18:29

brenda sheilla

it is now easier for me to use that shortcut, thanks for this tip

2012-08-19 14:28:59


I learned something new, thanks for the tip.

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