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Expanding Cell Selections the Easy Way

When I select a range of cells in MS Excel, whether I use the mouse or keyboard, it’s not uncommon for me to discover that I’ve not quite got it all.

Many times that’s not a big deal since I know enough to hold down the Shift key and keep expanding in the direction I was already going.

But what if you’ve realized that the missing cells are back where you’re selection began instead of where it ended.

Have you tried to expand that?

If you use the mouse to try and expand you’ll find that the selection starts to flip around the first cell you selected when you started. (It’s the cell that is in the selection rectangle but not shaded.)


If you use the keyboard (with the Shift key) you’ll find that you’re collapsing the selection area… moving back towards the first cell selected.

So now what?

Start over?

Lots of people do but believe it or not, it’s not necessary.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed but cell range selection always moves away and toward the first cell selected.

So… if we could change the designated “first cell” then we should be able to change the direction that selection expansion occurs.

Simple enough, if you know how to change that “first cell” designation and, fortunately, I do which means now you do too!

Ctrl + . (hit the key for the period)

Yep – it’s really that easy. If you continue to hit Ctrl + . then you’ll notice that the unshaded cell will rotate around the four corners of the currently selected cell range.


Basically, move the unshaded cell to the corner opposite of where you wish to expand (or collapse for that matter).

Once it’s moved hold down the Shift key and use either the mouse or keyboard to move the selection area to where you actually need it.

~ April