How to Select Worksheet Cells in Excel for Mac 2011 - dummies

How to Select Worksheet Cells in Excel for Mac 2011

By Geetesh Bajaj, James Gordon

When working in an Excel spreadsheet or workbook in Office 2011 for Mac, click a cell to select it. Excel for Mac 2011 will indicate the selected cell in several different ways:

  • Highlighted row number and column letter: The intersection on which the cell sits, like Column B and Row 2 (B2), is referred to as the address of the cell.

  • Heavy border: The selected cell has a thicker border.

  • Fill handle: The lower right-corner of the selected cell is a dark square, which you can drag to copy the cell’s contents.

  • Name box: Also known as the Range tool, this displays the address of the cell. The address is the column letter followed by the row number.


You can change the color of the selected cell’s border in Mac OS X System preferences. To change the color of the selection indicator, choose Apple Menu→System Preferences→Personal→Appearance to display the Appearance dialog. Click the Highlight Color to display a pop-up menu from which to choose a different color. This setting applies not only for Excel, but for all installed applications on your Mac. If you have Excel open when you make these changes, you have to close and restart Excel to see the change in the cell border color.

You can select or refer to more than one cell at a time. When more than one cell is selected or referred to at a time, it’s called a cell range.

To select a group of cells, drag the mouse cursor across the cells you want to select. When you release the mouse button, the range of cells becomes highlighted, and the row numbers and column headers are darkened to indicate the selected range.

Excel uses a colon (:) to indicate a contiguous cell range. Type A1:C5 in the cell address box, in cell formulas, or in dialogs to indicate a range of cells whose top-left position is A1, and whose bottom-right position is C5. Cell ranges can be named.

To select noncontiguous ranges of cells, hold down the Command button as you drag the mouse cursor over cell ranges or select individual cells by clicking them.

Near cell A1 (left of A column header and above the 1 row header) is a special button that looks like a small triangle. Clicking this button selects all the cells of a worksheet at once. When you hover the mouse cursor over this button, it takes on a different arrow. Click this button to select all cells on the worksheet. This is the same as pressing Command-A. With the whole sheet selected, you can apply formatting options to the entire sheet.