Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Cell Movement After Enter.

Cell Movement After Enter

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 6, 2016)


When you enter information in a cell, and then press the Enter key, Excel normally moves to the cell below the one in which you entered the information. You can configure Excel to move in a different direction after pressing Enter by following 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 of the dialog box click Advanced. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the After Pressing Enter Move Selection check box is selected.
  5. Use the Direction drop-down list to specify the direction that Excel should move.
  6. Click OK.

There is one interesting thing about how Excel selects a new cell: If you press Shift+Enter (instead of Enter) when entering data, then Excel selects the cell in the opposite direction of what you have specified in step 4. Thus, if the Direction drop-down list is set to Down, and you press Shift+Enter, then Excel actually moves the selection upwards.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6712) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Cell Movement After Enter.

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 five less than 5?

2017-03-10 15:33:44

Peter Atherton

Greg Stough

Ctrl + Enter holds the cursor.

2017-03-09 09:52:53

B. Diddy

Thank you for this tip! Saved me a ton of frustration!!!!!

2017-01-23 18:32:54

Jan Barcz

I figured it out. Somehow the scroll lock got pushed.


2017-01-23 18:02:45

Jan Barcz

If I put my cursor in cell B1 and push the down arrow, the whole page shifts up. This didn't use to do this. Not sure what I did to cause this?

2017-01-04 07:12:03


In reply to Greg, the solution could be to create 2 macros and link them to command buttons. The code needed is :-

Application.MoveAfterReturn = True

or change to = False

Alternatively a single macro could be set up to toggle between the 2 options.

To control the direction of cursor movement add code such as :-

Application.MoveAfterReturnDirection = xlToRight

replace with xlToLeft, xlDown or xlUp if desired.

2017-01-03 10:55:53

Greg Stough

This has been an ongoing issue for me so perhaps you can help. When I uncheck the "After Pressing Enter, Move Selection" checkbox, as you mentioned, this affects all my workbooks. I'd like to have the cursor to remain in the same cell in some workbooks, but not in others. Is there a way to do this? Ideally I'd like it at the sheet level, but if I can get it to work on the workbook level that would be okay too.

2016-12-15 11:35:42


James - in protected worksheets, I have more luck using the tab key rather than enter. This moves the cursor to the next unlocked cell.

Hope this helps!

2016-10-25 09:06:07


AC: press tab then enter to return

2016-10-22 11:31:16

David Siu

Awesome, it works great!

2016-09-27 09:14:45


I am using Excel 2016. In previous versions of Excel you could enter data across multiple columns and when you pressed enter it would move the cursor down one and all the way to the first column you started with. How can I do this in Excel 2016?

2016-08-13 03:41:36

James Bowen

Jim (or anyone else who knows),

I used your suggestion and deselected the movement after enter. Initially, it had the desired effect (cursor remained in the selected cell after enter). However, I then went in and used the protect worksheet option (allowing the cursor to only snap to unlocked cells). After protecting the worksheet, entering data into a cell, and hitting enter I've found that the cursor jumps to a cell approx 400 rows below the cell I'm working in. At that point, reselecting or deselecting the movement after enter has no effect. Can you offer any suggestions on why this works on an unprotected worksheet and not a protected one?

Thanks So Much

2016-08-07 23:44:13


As a teacher of Excel, I usually suggest students deselect the movement after enter. This allows the cursor to stay in the current cell where a host of other commands can be implemented.

Use the up arrow, down arrow, right arrow or left arrow to move the cursor. It works flawlessly. Try it, you'll like it!

2016-08-07 19:04:32

Alec Whatmough

I often need (want) to flick between moving down and moving across on Enter, so I have added two small macros to my personal workbook, and put buttons on the QAT.
Macros are:
Sub MoveRightOnEnter()

Application.MoveAfterReturnDirection = xlToRight
End Sub
Sub MoveDownOnEnter()

Application.MoveAfterReturnDirection = xlDown
End Sub

If you want the option to change by worksheet, you could add it to the sheet code as worksheet.activate and deactivate code (you could also do it as, but that is only any good if you open the file, do your thing and close it again.)

2016-08-06 09:57:23


I originally entered this comment for a similar article for VBA on individual workbooks. Probably more appropriate here.

I turn off the 'After pressing Enter' option. This has the effect of no movement.

However the 4 'Arrow' keys can be used for BOTH data entry (instead of the Enter key) and movement to another cell.

Because I can never be certain in which direction I want the 'selection' to move, I prefer to use these 4 'Arrow' keys to move up, down, left or right as desired.

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