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Excel for Mac 2011 is always trying to tell you what it can do. When you’re in a worksheet, the cursor changes as you move the mouse around. The cursor’s appearance reveals what you can do:

  • Open cross: This is the mouse cursor you see most of the time in Excel. When you see the open cross, Excel expects you to do something.

  • Hand: When you see the hand, you can hold down the mouse button and drag a cell or cell range from its current location to any other location on the worksheet.

  • Dark arrow: This arrow cursor appears only if the mouse pointer moves over a column or a row indicator. Although pointing is certainly bad manners under normal circumstances, Excel is just being helpful in this case. The arrow points down when the mouse pointer is in a column indicator, or it points to the right when the mouse pointer is over a row indicator.

    • Click when this arrow is visible to select the entire row(s) or column(s).

    • Drag when this arrow is visible to select multiple rows or columns. A tooltip displays to show how many rows or columns you’re about to select when you release the mouse button.

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  • Double arrow: The double arrow appears when the mouse pointer is over the divider between cells, between rows and columns, and in various windows to let you know you can move pane dividers and other dividers. When you see this cursor, hold down the mouse button and drag the divider to resize, or double-click the mouse to automatically size the row or column.

  • Solid cross: To see this cursor, the mouse pointer has to be positioned over the fill handle. To drag the fill handle, hold down the mouse button when you see the solid cross and then drag to copy the selection across or down.

  • Format Painter: Make a selection and then click the Format Painter button on the Standard toolbar. The cursor changes to a paintbrush to let you know that whatever you click next will receive the formatting from whatever was selected when you clicked the Format Painter button.

  • Insertion cursor: This blinking cursor tells you where text will appear when you type.

  • Shape cursor: Blue dots, which you can drag, surround a selected shape accompanied by a green dot that you can drag to rotate the object.

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