Excel Freeze Panes: Use it to Lock Row/Column Headers

Watch Video – Using Excel Freeze Panes

When working with large data sets, if you scroll down or to the right of the worksheet you would lose track of the row/column headings.

In such situations, you can use the Excel Freeze Panes feature to freeze rows/columns/ so that the headers always visible no matter where you scroll in your data.

Accessing Excel Freeze Panes Options

To access Excel Freeze Panes options:

  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze PanesUsing Excel Freeze Panes - Tab

It shows three options in the Freeze Panes drop-down:

  • Freeze Panes: It freezes the rows as well as the columns.
  • Freeze Top Row: It freezes all the rows above the active cell.
  • Freeze First Column: It freezes all the columns to the left of the active cell.

Using Excel Freeze Panes Options

Let’s see how to use these Excel Freeze Panes options while working with large data sets:

Freezing Row(s) in Excel

If you are working with a dataset that has headers at the top row and a dataset that spans hundreds of rows, as soon as you scroll down, the headers/labels would disappear.

Something as shown below:Using Excel Freeze Panes - Headers Disappear

In such cases, it’s a good idea to freeze the top row so that the headers are always visible to the user.

In this section, you’ll learn how to:

  • How to Freeze the top row.
  • How to Freeze more than one row.
  • How to Unfreeze rows.

Freeze/Lock the Top Row in Excel

Here are the steps to freeze the top row:

  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Option
  • In the Freeze Panes drop-down, select Freeze Top Row.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze top row
    • This will freeze the top row of the data set. You would notice that a gray line now appears right below the first row.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Row Grey Line

Now when you scroll down, the top row would always be visible. Something as shown below:

Using Excel Freeze Panes - Fixed Row

Freeze/Lock More than One Row in Excel

If you have more than one header rows, you may want to freeze all of it.

Here is how to do this:

  • Select the left-most cell in the row which is just below the headers row.
  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze Panes.

Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Option

  • In the Freeze Panes drop-down, select Freeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes More Rows
  • This will freeze all the rows above the selected cell. You would notice that a gray line now appears right below the rows that have been freezed.

Now when you scroll down, all the header rows would always be visible. Something as shown below:

Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freezing Multiple Rows

Unfreeze Rows in Excel

To unfreeze row(s):

  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Option
  • In the Freeze Panes drop-down, select the option to Unfreeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Unfreeze rows

Excel Freeze Panes Options – Freezing Column(s)

If you are working with a dataset that has headers/labels in a column and the data is spread across many columns, as soon as you scroll to the right, the header would disappear.

Something as shown below:

Using Excel Freeze Panes - Column Headers Disappear

In such cases, it’s a good idea to freeze the left-most column so that the headers are always visible to the user.

In this section, you’ll learn how to:

  • How to Freeze the Left-most Column.
  • How to Freeze more than one Column.
  • How to Unfreeze Columns.

Freeze/Lock the Left-Most Column in Excel

Here is how to freeze the left-most column:

  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Option
  • In the Freeze Panes drop-down, select Freeze First Column.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Left Column
  • This will freeze the left most column of the data set. You would notice that a gray line now appears at the right border of the left-most column.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Column Grey Line

Now when you scroll down, the left-most column would always be visible. Something as shown below:

Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freezed Column Demo

Additional Notes:

  • Once you freeze a column, you can not use Control + Z to unfreeze it. You need to use the unfreeze option in the Freeze Panes drop-down.
  • If you insert a column to the left of the column that has been frozen, even the inserted column is frozen.

Freeze/Lock More than One Column in Excel

If you have more than one column that contains headers/labels, you may want to freeze all of it.

Here is how to do this:

  • Select the top-most cell in the column which is right next to the columns that contain headers.
  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze Panes.

Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Option

  • In the Freeze Panes drop-down, select Freeze First Column.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Left Column
  • This will freeze all the columns to the left of the selected cell. You would notice that a gray line appears to the right of the columns that have been freezed.

Now when you scroll to the right, all the columns with headers would always be visible. Something as shown below:

Using Excel Freeze Panes - Multiple Columns

Unfreeze Columns in Excel

To unfreeze column(s):

  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Option
  • In the Freeze Panes drop-down, select the option to Unfreeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Unfreeze rows

Freezing Both Row(s) & Column(s)

In most of the cases, you would have the headers/labels in rows as well as in columns. In such cases, it makes sense to freeze both rows and columns.

Here is how you can do this:

  • Select a cell just below the rows and right next to the column that you want to freeze.
    • For example, if you want to freeze two rows (1 & 2) and two columns (A & B), select cell C3.
  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze PanesUsing Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Option
  • Select the Freeze Panes option from the drop down.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes
  • This will freeze the column(s) to the left of the selected cell and row(s) above the selected cell. You would notice two gray lines appear –  one right next to the freezed columns and the other right below the freezed rows.

Now when you scroll down or to the right, the freezed rows and columns would always be visible. Something as shown below:

Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Demo

You can unfreeze the freezed rows and columns at one go. Here are the steps:

  • Go to View –> Zoom –> Freeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Freeze Panes Option
  • In the Freeze Panes drop-down, select the option to Unfreeze Panes.Using Excel Freeze Panes - Unfreeze rows

Notes:

  • Apart from working with large data sets, one practical use of Exel Freeze Panes is while you are creating dashboards. You can freeze the rows and columns that contain the dashboard so that the user can’t scroll away and the dashboard is always visible.
  • A good practice while working with large data sets is to convert it into Excel Tables. By default, all the row headers in Excel Tables are always visible when you scroll within the dataset.

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  • Frank Tonsen

    “How to Freeze More than One Row” is not correct. Of course, you have to click “Freeze Panes” instead of “Freeze Top Row” for more than one row.

    • Thanks for letting me know Frank 🙂
      I have corrected that part in the tutorial