Alt-A Shortcuts For Lazy People — Bring ’em On
Excel’s Data tab has lots of great tools, like Filtering, Sorting, and the ability to Refresh a pivot table (among others).
So how can you access it quickly, with keyboard shortcuts? Simple: by typing Alt-A, and then the keyboard accelerator letter for your selection. (If you’re not familiar with Excel’s Alt shortcuts, you type the letters in succession, not all at once).
But if you’re lazy like me, you avoid moving your right hand onto the keyboard when possible (because you like it on the mouse). This is a central principle of my whole approach to Excel shortcuts. I will never become a keyboard-only user, because the mouse is quite often just as fast as the keyboard. But I digress…
Once you’ve typed Alt-A, which keyboard shortcuts can you complete using only your left hand? See the options circled in red below:
From those options, here are my favorite, higher frequency shortcuts:
|Refresh Connections (e.g., for Pivot)||Alt-A-R|
|Text To Columns||Alt-A-E|
*not a joke
I particularly like the Filter and Clear Filter shortcuts, as well as the Sort Ascending and Sort Descending. They just seem to flow off of my fingertips. And most of them are somewhat easy to remember. The “A” in Alt-A-S-A is for “Ascending” and the “D” in Alt-A-S-D is for “Descending.” The “C” in Alt-A-C is for “Clear.” The “T” in Alt-A-T isn’t as easy to remember (although the “T” is at least in the word Filter). However, if you use filters enough, you’ll memorize it quickly.
And here are the remaining left-handers (which I use much less often):
|Get External Data|
|From Existing Connections||Alt-A-X|
Pick off a few of these and you’ll soon begin a lifelong romance with Alt-A, and maybe even the close cousins that also suit the left hand (Alt-F (File tab), Alt-R (Review tab), Alt-W (View tab), and Alt-E (for the legacy File menu from Excel 2003 and earlier). You can apply the same principles to those tabs to derive a list of nice left-handed shortcuts.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and questions.