Selected Cells Not Shaded

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 3, 2015)


Ted just switched to Excel 2007. Whenever he select multiple cells, all the cells are white, not shaded blue as in previous versions of Excel. This means he cannot tell which cell is the active cell. When Ted uses the Ctrl key to select multiple cells in different parts of the worksheet, he cannot even tell which cells have been selected. Ted wonders how he can get Excel 2007 to shade selected cells as was done in previous versions of the program.

The short answer is that you can't. In fact, it appears that the coloring of many parts of Excel (including selections) are hard-coded. In previous versions of Excel you could change the colors in Windows itself; this won't really affect Excel 2007 that much.

The problem, has been known since the earliest betas of Excel 2007, and still Microsoft has done nothing to fix it. There is an interesting blog post over on the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) site that talks about this issue and provides a few workarounds:

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6232) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007.

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 nine more than 3?

2016-11-26 21:20:48

vipul lodaya

hi phil

thanks thats works like charm

thank you man

2016-10-31 13:52:00


In Excel, I can barely tell what row is being highlighted when I select a cell. If I'm reading your answer above right, there's no way to make the selection appear darker. But all over the place, where people use screenshots to explain an excel process, I notice that the border cell (not the whole row or column) of the row and column of the cell they've selected are yellow, and can easily be seen. How did they manage that? That would be a huge improvement.


2016-10-01 08:36:17


To fix the problem (tested on XP and W10):
- Open the registry with regedit
- Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER, Software, Microsoft, Office, 12.0, Excel, Options
- Create a new DWORD value (not a new key !), name "Options6", change its value to decimal and give the value 16
- close the registry
Open Excel 2007, the selectionned cells now appear in like previous Excel versions (black background, text in white.

2016-09-02 03:57:46

eric kamdem

Hi all, am using Office 2010. In excel when I copy cells the function still works well as I can paste it somewhere, however, the copied cell/s used to have moving doted lines around the edges making the user aware of the cells being copied. For some reason the doted lines around the copied cells do not show anymore. Does anyone have an idea on how this can be fixed.

Best Regard
Eric Kamdem

2015-02-05 22:42:15


Thanks "John Zelno" it worked for me...

2014-10-20 15:42:21

Mark Hammock

So I have 2 identical Dell monitors. On one, I could NOT see a slight highlight when Ctrl multiple cell select was activated. On the other, I COULD. I simply matched the settings on both monitors, and voila... It's there, but ever so slightly.

2014-07-28 11:19:03


Adjusting my monitor settings made the highlighted shading much more visible, though my screen is darker. I can switch between multiple profiles on my monitor so it's just a matter of tapping a few buttons on it when I am using excel.

2014-04-12 13:33:16

Daniel B

John Zelno, your fix worked great!

2013-06-17 19:02:38


Man, wait till he tries Excel 2013. You can no longer remove items from a set of control-click cells...

2013-01-25 20:32:55

Aldo Santolla

It's funny, but I have never noticed this before. I have always knew what cells I have selected by the bold outline, but I did a quick check and found that on my dual screen setup, using a Asus monitor and a Samsung monitor (Win7, Excel 2007) that the highlighted cells are different on each monitor. On the Asus they are gray, but off-white on the Samsung. This gives me the conclusion that it is the displays and not Excel. On my Dell laptop they are more gray then white.

2013-01-24 13:01:36

John Zelno

I had found this to be a problem with Excel 2007 on Win XP. On Win 7, the contrast in 2007 seems to be much better. Also, with Excel 2010, the contrast is also much better than in 2007 (at least on Win 7... I haven't tried 2010 on XP). For 2007 on XP, I was able to adjust the windows settings to acheive a better contrast. Follow these steps in XP to acheive this:
1.In the Windows Display Properties, select the Appearance Tab
2.Click the Advanced button
3.Under Item, select Window
4.Pulldown Color 1, and select Other...
5.Select the White square under "Basic Colors", change the Lum value to 215, then click Add to Custom Colors
6.Select the (new) grey box under "Custom colors:" and press all of the OK buttons

2013-01-24 11:56:19

Peg Molter

I have Excel 2007, and selected cells are shaded, although light, but very visible. As far as I know, I haven't done anything to achieve that; it just "came that way."

2013-01-24 11:23:22


I have Excel 2007 on my computer. When I make a selection or control-click cells to achieve non-adjacent selections, Excel 2007 does indeed shade the selected cells; it is a very light shading, though. Try tweaking your display settings for brightness and contrast until you can see the light shading. This can also be achieved in Windows Explorer: when you view "details" and sort by a column heading, that sorted column has a light background shading that is hard to see if your display settings are not tweaked properly. (I use Windows XP.) Secondly, once you tweak your software settings, then try tweaking your hardware settings: your monitor controls will allow you to get a good balance. Good luck!

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