Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Changing the Color Used to Denote Selected Cells.

Changing the Color Used to Denote Selected Cells

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 25, 2017)

13

Whenever you select a range of cells to enter data, the active cell is white and all the other cells in the range are a contrasting color. As you enter data and then press the Enter key, that cell becomes the contrasting color and the next cell becomes the active cell and is white. You may wonder how to change the contrasting color to make the selected range stand out more.

The colors used by Excel when you select items are controlled not by Excel, but by Windows. You can change the selection color, but you should understand that when you do so it may affect other programs besides just Excel. The exact steps you follow depend on your version of Windows. If you are using Windows 7, follow these steps:

  1. Get out of Excel.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your Windows desktop. (Make sure you right-click on the desktop itself, not on any of the objects on the desktop.) Windows presents a Context menu.
  3. Choose Personalize from the Context menu. Windows displays the Personalization options.
  4. Click the Window Color link.
  5. Click the Advanced Appearance Settings link. Windows displays the Window Color and Appearance dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Window Color and Appearance dialog box.

  7. Using the Item drop-down list, choose the Selected Items option.
  8. Using the Color 1 drop-down list, choose the color you want Windows to use when you select items.
  9. Click OK to close the Window Color and Appearance dialog box.
  10. Click Save Changes to save your color changes.
  11. Close the Control Panel window.

If you are using Vista, follow these steps instead:

  1. Get out of Excel.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your Windows desktop. (Make sure you right-click on the desktop itself, not on any of the objects on the desktop.) Windows presents a Context menu.
  3. Choose Personalize from the Context menu. Windows displays the Personalization dialog box.
  4. Click Window Color and Appearance.
  5. Click the Open Classic Appearance Properties for More Color Options link. Windows displays the Appearance Settings dialog box.
  6. Click the Advanced button. Windows displays the Advanced Appearance dialog box.
  7. Using the Item drop-down list, choose the Selected Items option.
  8. Using the Color 1 drop-down list, choose the color you want Windows to use when you select items.
  9. Click OK to close the Advanced Appearance dialog box.
  10. Click OK to close the Appearance Settings dialog box.
  11. Close the Control Panel window.

Finally, if you are using Windows XP, follow these steps:

  1. Get out of Excel.
  2. Right-click anywhere in your Windows desktop. (Make sure you right-click on the desktop itself, not on any of the objects on the desktop.) Windows presents a Context menu.
  3. Choose Properties from the Context menu. Windows displays the Display Properties dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Appearance tab is selected.
  5. Click the Advanced button. Windows displays the Advanced Appearance dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Advanced Appearance dialog box.

  7. Using the Item drop-down list, choose the Selected Items option.
  8. Using the Color 1 drop-down list, choose the color you want Windows to use when you select items.
  9. Click OK to close the Advanced Appearance dialog box.
  10. Click OK to close the Display Properties dialog box.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8265) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Changing the Color Used to Denote Selected Cells.

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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Comments

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What is four less than 9?

2017-11-10 09:56:08

David

Glad to have run across your site. In following your instructions on "Changing the Color Used to Denote Selected Cells", there is no info on how to do this in Excel with Office 2016. trying to do it with the instructions for other Excel versions, after I do step 4, I am instructed to click the Advanced Appearance Settings. That option does not appear. There is no Advanced Appearance Settings option. What I am trying to accomplish is this: when I scroll through cells, it is difficult to tell which cell I am on as I scroll. I would like to be able for the active cell to be highlighted in a different color OR the active cell be visible with a bolder border. I appreciate your anticipated response. Thank you. David C.


2017-10-23 15:20:35

Jeff

I am using Windows 10 and Excel 2016 vis Office 365 and I do not see the above options for changing the highlight color for selected cells. I seems that I must adopt a different them (which changes a LOT of other stuff) and take my chances on YET ANOTHER 3rd party product. I have a great deal of difficulty in visually discerning which is the selected cell and where the cursor is within that cell.

It is entirely possible I missed something there.
Apologies in advance.
Thanks for your assistance.
---JCN


2016-08-11 07:36:42

Ashok Tatipamula

Hi i feel very happy with this information they are providing very very useful information as well as helpful information with simple and easy techniques.


2016-02-26 09:17:36

jerry

This tip for changing color of selected cell for Windows 7 - did not work. Yes everything else that was selected in windows was effected but it had not effect on Excel. The reason for wanting to meke this change is that when I use teh find option sometimes it is hard to see what cell it found. So anything that would make it stand out would be good.


2015-09-11 12:12:54

Cathy Carr

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFngtL2OoWo


2015-09-08 09:17:12

KM

Just wanted to aDVISE THAT WHAT I AM ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR IS INSTRUCTIONS ON ;

How to change the border of a 'found' cell only. i.e. the cell which is highlighted as the result of using the 'find/find and replace function. Not the border of 'selected' cells. There doesn't seem to anywhere to show this- I have done it in the past but cannot remember...


2015-08-25 12:15:30

mick

win 8.1&10 what to do? plz


2015-06-26 02:37:57

markin

It fails on my side, with Win7_64 bit, office 2013, too.

Could you please help to verify it? Thanks for all the help you provide!


2015-06-08 16:56:59

Lenny

I'm being told by experts that this does NOT work for v2007 (Win7). Also, it did not work for v2013. Can you verify? (I verified it works for v2010, but no longer have v2007 to test.)


2014-08-15 07:27:45

Bryan

Jose: the white cell is the active cell and the remaining blue cells are simply selected cells. If you highlight a group of cells then start typing, your text will go into the active cell.


2014-08-14 16:54:36

Jose Reino

Thanks for the tip. After much searching finally a place with the right answer! Unfortunately, can say the same thing for Microsoft. It just doesn't make sense to me that when I select 5 cells in Excel, 4 will turn blue (or whatever color I chose) and the first one stays white!!! It may be some kind of logic to it, but it seems the wrong kind of logic. If I choose 5 cells, shouldn't they be highlighted exactly the same way? Especially when searching for something, it would be helpful to have all the results highlighted the same way so they could be spotted quickly.


2014-08-12 23:11:12

Christine

What do you do for mac powerbooks and OS X?


2014-01-31 10:37:22

Kevin

Thanks, but I was looking for a way to change how the current cell looks (where the rectangular cell pointer is resting). I have worksheets with black borders around all the cells (forms) and the current cell pointer location can be hard to see. I think that many years ago the cell pointer color was an option that could be changed, but that option has long since vanished.


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