Tom’s Tutorials For Excel: Repeating Your Last Action FAST! The Magic of the F4 Key.

Tom’s Tutorials For Excel: Repeating Your Last Action FAST! The Magic of the F4 Key.

Take a look at this gem: The F4 key is a little-used but highly efficient shortcut for speeding up your Excel tasks, when you need to repeat the same action once, twice, or dozens of times.

In Excel (and other Office apps as well), many tasks can be instantly completed by hitting the F4 key for as many times as you want to repeat your last action. The following pictures (formatting ranges, inserting new worksheets, and deleting rows) are just three examples that are repeatable with F4.

First example — Formatting ranges

Second example — Inserting worksheets

Third example — Deleting rows

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9 comments on “Tom’s Tutorials For Excel: Repeating Your Last Action FAST! The Magic of the F4 Key.
  1. Lukas says:

    Hi Tom,
    I didn’t know about F4, but i’ve been doing the same thing using CTRL + Y. :- )

    Cheers from Switzerland,

    • Tom Urtis says:

      Hi Lukas, thank you for following my Excel blog and for your comment. Yes indeed, you are quite correct, Ctrl+Y does repeat the last action when possible, multiple times as desired, same as F4. I was thinking, without saying and probably should have said, that a single key stroke of F4 can do what that dual key stroke of Ctrl+Y can do. Some users are strict keyboard users so for them it’s all the same, but others are like me, with the mouse usually in hand while working. But yes absolutely, thanks again for your Ctrl+Y reminder.

      By the way, speaking of the F4 key in case you or anyone reading this missed it, on a previous blog I showed how F4 toggles formula references in a cycle of all absolute; absolute column / relative row; relative column / absolute row; and all relative. Here’s that blog entry for anyone interested:

      • Ethan says:

        What version of Excel are you using? This used to work reliably in 2003 but all reports say that 2007, 2010 and 2013 don’t work. I’m using 2010 and 2013 and it doesn’t work. If I undo, then either option will “redo” the action. But if I want to “repeat” the action, not “redo”, it doesn’t work.

        • Tom Urtis says:

          Hello Ethan, thanks for your comment and for following my Excel blog.

          F4 does work in versions past 2003 but not with every single action as in 2003, and generally with limited actions anyway. For example, on a version 2007 or later, open a workbook. Hit Shift+F11 (or, on the Home tab, Insert > Sheet). Then hit F4 as many times as you want to repeat the action of inserting a new sheet.

          When I was at Microsoft last month, I suggested that they expand their available uses for F4 in future versions. Whether or not that happens is another story. For example, if you select a series in a chart, you click into the formula bar and hit F9 and Enter, that will make that series static. It would be nice to simply select each remaining chart series and hit F4 rather than go through the gyrations of the formula bar, F9 and Enter, in order to make the entire chart object static.

          What you are experiencing might be an international setting if you are using a non-North American version of Excel, such as in Europe or Asia. Just guessing and thinking out loud. Your primary wish for more functionality with F4 is totally shared by me and others.

  2. Thara says:

    Thanks a lot, this tutor is very useful.

  3. Mohammed Burhanuddin says:

    I have used this even on Win8 and Office 2007, but now after formatting its not working. I wonder if there is any setting for this. Thanks

  4. Per Olesen says:

    Isn’t it the same as ALT+ENTER

    • Tom Urtis says:

      No, not the same. Test it yourself. Insert a row, or a column. Hit the F4 key to repeat that action. Try inserting a row or column and hit Alt+Enter. Nothing will happen.

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