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: Selecting Multiple Cells by Mistake.

Selecting Multiple Cells by Mistake

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 25, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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Lester notes that sometimes when he clicks on a single cell in a worksheet, more than one cell gets selected. Only by clicking various other cells at random in another part of the worksheet does it go back to normal where only the single cell he clicked on is selected. He wonders why this is happening.

There could be any number of causes for a problem like this. First of all, when it happens you should let go of the mouse and switch to the keyboard. With the multiple cells still selected, press the Up Arrow key once and then the Down Arrow key once. If there are still multiple cells selected, it could be that the cells are actually merged. You can unmerge the cells, if desired, or simply accept that you can't select individual cells in the merged range.

If the cells are not merged, it could be that the extend mode is currently turned on. Take a look at the status bar at the bottom of the worksheet. If you see the word Extend Selection towards the left of the status bar, then extend mode is active. Press either Esc or F8 to turn off extend mode. (When Excel is in extend mode, one end of a selection is "anchored" and the selection extends from there to where you click or move next.)

If the problem still continues, it could be because of a hardware problem with the mouse. Try changing to a different mouse to see if that fixes the issue. If it doesn't, then it is also possible that it is a problem with the keyboard. If the keyboard has a sticky Shift key, then that key could be "engaged" longer than desired, resulting in a selection of a range of cells, similar to the extend mode problem mentioned earlier. If you suspect this is the cause, then you'll need to either thoroughly clean your keyboard or replace it.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7882) 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: Selecting Multiple Cells by Mistake.

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 two more than 7?

2023-03-29 06:57:45

Stig Wedel

I occassionally experienced the same problem (multiple cells selected by clicking on one), but it was always in view modes "Page Layout" or possibly "Page Break Preview". Switching to view mode "Normal" and doing further operations in that view mode removed the problem.


2023-03-26 15:25:11

Alec W

This is not an uncommon problem - click one cell with the mouse and select several.
Quite why this happens is a great mystery, but it only seems to happen in Page Layout view. Change the view to Normal or Page Break and the problem goes away.


2023-03-25 10:54:20

John Quinn

I noticed recently that when I tried to access Excel's Help feature, I get a message that reads, "Sorry, something went wrong . Please check your network connection and try again."
I'm not experiencing any other connectivity issues outside of Excel. However, I'm not sure of how to check specifically for Excel connectivity status. Any insights?


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