How to Keep the Active Cell in Excel: Tips and Tricks

Keeping the active cell in Excel can be a little tricky, especially if you’re new to this powerful spreadsheet tool. But don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it might seem! With a few simple steps, you can easily keep track of the active cell, making your work more efficient and organized.

Step by Step Tutorial: Keeping the Active Cell in Excel

Before we dive into the steps, let’s quickly understand what we’ll achieve. By following these steps, you’ll be able to keep the active cell highlighted or in view even as you navigate through the spreadsheet or enter data. This can be incredibly helpful for keeping your place and ensuring accuracy as you work.

Step 1: Select the cell you want to keep active

This is the starting point for keeping the active cell in Excel.

When you open Excel, you’ll notice that there is a green border around the cell that is currently selected. This is the active cell. Click on the cell you’d like to keep active to select it.

Step 2: Use the ‘Scroll Lock’ key

This is how you can keep the active cell in view while scrolling.

After selecting the cell, press the ‘Scroll Lock’ key on your keyboard. This will lock the active cell so that it stays in view as you scroll through the rest of your spreadsheet. Remember, not all keyboards have this key, and on some laptops, you may need to press the ‘Fn’ key in combination with another key to activate ‘Scroll Lock.’

Step 3: Apply conditional formatting

This step helps you visually keep track of the active cell.

If your keyboard doesn’t have a Scroll Lock key, you can use conditional formatting to highlight the active cell. Go to the ‘Home’ tab, click ‘Conditional Formatting’, and then ‘New Rule’. Choose ‘Use a formula to determine which cells to format’ and use the formula =CELL("address")=ADDRESS(ROW(),COLUMN()). Set the format to fill the cell with a color of your choice.

After completing these actions, you’ll be able to keep the active cell in Excel highlighted or in view, which will help you stay organized and reduce errors as you work with large spreadsheets.

Tips for Keeping the Active Cell in Excel

  • If you’re using a laptop without a Scroll Lock key, try the combination of ‘Fn’ + ‘C’ or check your laptop’s manual for the correct combination.
  • You can also keep the active cell in view by freezing panes. Go to the ‘View’ tab and select ‘Freeze Panes’ to keep certain areas of your spreadsheet visible while scrolling.
  • Double-clicking the border of the active cell will automatically move you to the edge of the data range.
  • If you’re using a Mac and the ‘Scroll Lock’ method doesn’t work, try using the ‘F14’ key or ‘Fn’ + ‘Shift’ + ‘F14’.
  • Remember to turn off ‘Scroll Lock’ or remove the conditional formatting once you’re done, to avoid confusion later on.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the active cell in Excel?

The active cell is the currently selected cell where data can be entered or edited. It’s outlined with a green border in Excel.

Can I keep the active cell highlighted at all times?

Using conditional formatting, as described above, allows you to keep the active cell highlighted at all times.

Why can’t I find the ‘Scroll Lock’ key on my keyboard?

Not all keyboards have a ‘Scroll Lock’ key, especially on compact or laptop keyboards. Check your manual or try using ‘Fn’ key combinations.

How do I turn off ‘Scroll Lock’?

You can turn off ‘Scroll Lock’ by pressing the key again. If you used ‘Fn’ key combinations, use the same combination to turn it off.

Can I use these methods in all versions of Excel?

The steps provided should work in most recent versions of Excel. However, always check if the version you’re using supports these features.


  1. Select the cell you want to keep active.
  2. Use the ‘Scroll Lock’ key to keep the cell in view or use ‘Fn’ key combinations.
  3. Apply conditional formatting to keep the cell highlighted.


Excel is an incredibly versatile tool, but it can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with vast amounts of data. However, mastering simple tricks like keeping the active cell in Excel can significantly enhance your productivity and accuracy. By using the Scroll Lock feature or conditional formatting, you can keep your active cell in view or highlighted, ensuring that you don’t lose your place amidst a sea of data.

Remember, while these tips are fairly straightforward, they can have a big impact on your efficiency. So, the next time you find yourself lost in a spreadsheet, give these methods a try, and you’ll be navigating Excel like a pro in no time!

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