Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Tab Key Jumps a Screen at a Time.

Tab Key Jumps a Screen at a Time

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 10, 2022)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


In Excel, different keys have different purposes when it comes to navigating around your worksheet. Normally, when you press the Tab key you will notice that Excel moves the cell cursor one column to the right. Not all spreadsheet programs behave this way, however. For instance, when you press the Tab key in Lotus 1-2-3, the cell cursor jumps a full screen to the right, instead of a single column.

Excel, in its efforts to make life easier on people who are just changing to the program, will emulate the navigation keys used by Lotus 1-2-3. If you press the Tab key in Excel, and the cell cursor jumps one screen to the right, then your system is using the navigation emulator instead of the native Excel navigation keys. To change back to the Excel defaults, 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 and later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left side of the dialog box click Advanced.
  3. Scroll through the list of available options until you see the Lotus Compatibility options. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

  5. Clear the Transition Navigation Keys check box.
  6. Click on OK.

That's it. Your Tab key should now work as expected, moving one column to the right each time you press it.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6710) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Tab Key Jumps a Screen at a Time.

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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