How to Deselect Cells in Excel (An Easy Way)

Excel is a really thought out spreadsheet tool and has so many simple tricks that can boost your productivity and save time.

But at the same time, there are some simple things that are missing and often leads to a lot of frustration.

For example, there are so many ways for you to quickly select cells and ranges but there was no way for you to deselect a range of cells after you have selected it.

Imagine you have to highlight a range of cells and you accidentally end up selecting an extra row or column. Earlier, you couldn’t have deselected certain cells or ranges, but Excel has changed this.

But now, you can deselect cells in Excel (good to see the Excel team taking user feedback seriously and using it to make the tool better)

Note: As of now, this functionality is only available in Excel for Office 365, Excel for Office 365 for Mac, Excel 2019, and Excel 2019 for Mac

How to Deselect Cells in Excel

Below is an example where I only want to select only the month columns and not the one with the quarterly values.

Dataset where some cells need to be deselected

One way to do this is to hold the Control key and then use your mouse to select the ranges so that you only select the month’s columns and not the quarter columns.

But as it often happens, you may accidentally select the quarter column (or some extra rows).

Here is how to deselect these extra selected cells/columns.

  1. Hold the Control key
  2. Click on the cell which you want to deselect. In case you want to deselect a range of cells (such as a quarter column in our example), click and drag to cover the entire column/range)

Deselct Cells in Excel

In case you end up accidentally deselecting any cells/ranges that you wanted to keep selected, just repeat the same process – hold the control key and select (or drag for multiple cells).

Note that this functionality of unselecting cells/ranges may not work if your worksheet is protected.

Deselect Specific Columns in Excel

In the above examples, I selected a few cells in the worksheets.

In case you want to select the entire worksheet and then deselect some specific columns, you can do that as well.

Suppose you want to select the entire sheet and only deselect the fifth, and ninth columns.

Below are the steps to so this:

  1. Select the entire sheet by clicking on the triangle at the top-left part of the sheet (or use the keyboard shortcut Control + A)Click on the triangle to select all the cells
  2. Hold the Control key and select the columns that you want to remove from the selection (#5 and #9 in our example)Deselect specific columns in the worksheet

Selecting Cells Hasn’t Change

The way to select cells still remains the same:

  • If you want to select a range of cells, you can either use the mouse (left-click on cell and drag to select all the cells covered) or click on a cell, hold the Shift key and click on another cell and Excel would select all the cells between it.
  • If you want to select non-contiguous cells, hold the control key, and then make the selections.

Personally, I find this small improvement a huge time saver. Many times, I need to select an entire range except for a few cells. Now, I can simply select the entire range and then deselect these specific cells.

I hope you found this tutorial useful.

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