Slash Key No Longer Works as Expected

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 7, 2020)

7

Recently the / (slash) key stopped working on Rebekah's system, but only in Excel. When she tries to use it, nothing is typed and instead in the top-left of the screen two rows of virtual buttons appear—1, 2, 3, on the top and F, H, N, P, M, A, R, W on the bottom. The only way she can type the / key is to activate the cell or to use the apostrophe first. Since she uses Excel quite a bit, these approaches are not efficient. Rebekah wonders why her Excel is behaving this way and what can she do to return it to normal.

This one is easy because Excel is supposed to behave this way. The "virtual buttons" that appear are actually called KeyTips, and they provide a way to invoke ribbon tabs and tools using the keyboard. There are actually two ways that you can display the KeyTips: either press the slash key or the Alt key. The slash key is considered a secondary menu key, while Alt is considered the primary menu key. (In other words, Alt is the primary key used to display the KeyTips and slash is the secondary key for this purpose.)

Actually, this behavior of the slash key is a holdover from the way Lotus 123 used to work decades ago. That program used the slash key to switch from editing to command mode; Excel included the behavior of the slash key as a way to make old Lotus users more comfortable with using Excel.

If you find yourself using the slash key quite a bit you can, if desired, change the secondary key to something else. You do it 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. Click Advanced at the left side of the screen.
  3. Scroll down until you see the Lotus Compatibility section. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

  5. Change the Microsoft Office Excel Menu Key setting to something other than the slash. (Pick a key that you use very infrequently. For me, I find that the tilde (~) is a good choice. Of course, if you don't need a secondary way to pull up the KeyTips, just delete whatever is in the setting.)
  6. While you are at it, make sure the Transition Navigation Keys check box is cleared.
  7. Click OK.

That's it; Excel should now be operating as you expect it to. The Alt key will still display the KeyTips; you can't change that. However, the slash key will no longer act as the secondary menu key—whatever you specified in step 4 will fit that purpose.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (13054) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Understanding Smart Cut and Paste

Editing is generally made easier by a feature that Word calls smart cut and paste. If you prefer, you can turn the ...

Discover More

Determining an ANSI Value in a Macro

Need to know the character code used for a particular character? In a macro you can use the Asc function to determine the ...

Discover More

Restoring the Analysis ToolPak

Add-ins for Excel, such as the Analysis ToolPak, are stored in files on your hard drive that can be deleted. If you ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Turning Off Paste Options

Paste some information into a worksheet and Excel helpfully displays some options related to the paste operation. If you ...

Discover More

Locking the Zoom Factor

When using alternative pointing devices with a computer (such as a laptop), Excel may not always behave in helpful ways. ...

Discover More

Entered Values are Divided by 100

Enter a value into a cell and "poof!" it is automatically divided by 100. What's going on, and how can you fix it so that ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 3 + 0?

2021-02-11 11:22:11

Rab

THANK YOU!!!!! I was quite confused when I opened an excel sheet this morning to find this issue. Your explanation was just what I needed to get me sorted again!


2021-02-11 08:18:58

saqib rehman

Thank you for the solution.
I have created a video tutorial for this. Please check this out.
https://youtu.be/VS1b_p0mPIA


2021-01-12 16:08:03

Peter Atherton

Demi,
Presuming thet you mean from the keyboard, here is one way

Select your cell to freeze then type Alt, W, F, Enter


2021-01-11 11:37:45

Demi

How do I freeze frame with formulas?


2020-12-04 11:36:01

Ishara Agostini

Thank you Allen!
You've saved me multiple times this week!


2020-11-07 17:21:07

Kevin

I never knew the Slash menu is customable. Thanks.


2020-11-07 12:39:22

Robert Lohman

My ALT key is non responsive for screen tips. The slash is my secondary key and works just fine. I tried deleting the slash from the box but then neither slash or ALT keys bring up the screen tips. Please help.


This Site

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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.