How to Highlight Multiple Cells in Excel on a Mac

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Excel for Mac provides various methods of selecting multiple cells in a spreadsheet. These are similar to Mac controls in other software for selecting multiple items. Using combinations of clicking, dragging, shift-clicking and command-clicking allows you to select many cells on a spreadsheet simultaneously.

  • Click and drag the mouse pointer to select a rectangular region of the spreadsheet, starting from the middle of any cell. Click on the edge of a cell to work with the contents of that cell; click in the middle to begin a selection movement with your mouse.

  • Shift-click anywhere outside this rectangle to redraw the selection from the first cell you selected to where you shift-click. This is frequently used to extend a selection past what is immediately visible on screen: draw a rectangular selection on screen, scroll the spreadsheet to the end of the selection you wish to draw, then shift-click to create a selection rectangle covering several screens of data.

  • Command-click to add cells to the selection outside of the rectangular selection, or to remove cells from the selection inside it. Each command-click acts as a toggle, turning off selection where it is turned on, and vice-versa. You can command-click and drag to toggle a rectangular selection of cells.

  • Click on row and column headers to select an entire row or column. This can be used with shift- and command-clicking to add selections to rectangular selections, but is usually used separately to format an entire row or column.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you wish to highlight cells with color after you select them, click on the "Toolbox" icon in the toolbar to open the palette. Click on the leftmost icon to bring up the formatting tools, then use the "Shading" controls to set a pattern and background color for the cells you have selected.

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