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: Selecting Multiple Cells by Mistake.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 16, 2017)
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, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Selecting Multiple Cells by Mistake.
Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!
Excel has a wide variety of keyboard shortcuts that can help make it easier to use the program. When one of those ...Discover More
Ever tried to select a range of cells using the mouse, only to have the cells scroll by so quickly you can't make the ...Discover More
When you select a range of cells (particularly if it is a large range of cells), you may not be quite sure if you've ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.