Fast Excel Shortcuts For Sorting — Using the Alt Key
In an earlier post I talked about some Excel Sort Shortcuts using the Right-Click or Context Menu.
Here I’ll talk about some really fast Sort shortcuts using the Alt key, or “keyboard accelerators” or “key tips.” As a bonus, I’ll reveal some fast ones using the Menu Key as well.
Below is a brief video showing you how fast these shortcuts are:
When you hit the Alt key, your keyboard lights up with a bunch of letters called “key tips” — see below.
Those keys are called “keyboard accelerators.” When you type one, you go to the ribbon tab it’s centered over — just as if you clicked on that tab with your mouse. (In the case of the Quick Access Toolbar, the effect is as if you clicked on the QAT icon). Since the Sort options are available on the Data tab, I’ll hit the A key after I hit (and release) the Alt key. That takes me to the Data tab (see below), where I see three sort options and their corresponding keyboard accelerators:
- SA for Sort Ascending — sorts in ascending order
- SD for Sort Descending — sorts in descending order
- SS for Sort (brings up the sort dialog box — called “Custom Sort” when you access it via right-clicking)
Here’s a picture of the Sort (or Custom Sort) dialog box:
To pull off the shortcut, after typing Alt-A to get to the Data tab, you just type in the final keys of your selection.
So Here Are The Full Alt-A Sort Shortcuts
Here are the full shortcuts — and they use only your left hand (you type one key at a time, releasing each one before typing the next):
Sort Ascending: Alt-A-S-A
Sort Descending: Alt-A-S-D
Custom Sort Dialog Box: Alt-A-S-S (no, that’s not a joke…)
Alt-H Sort Shortcuts — Using The Home Tab
If you have both hands on the keyboard, you might like these instead — but they’re about the same speed. They derive from the Home menu — see graphic below — and therefore begin with Alt-H instead of Alt-A. (The graphic below is of the far right side of the Home tab). When I hit Alt-H, the S shows up on the far right of the Home tab for the Sort option. When I then type S, the Sort options open up underneath (as shown). Then I hit my last key and I’m done.
Here are the shortcuts:
Sort Ascending: Alt-H-S-S
Sort Descending: Alt-H-S-O
Custom Sort Dialog Box: Alt-H-S-U
Alt-Number Sort Shortcuts — Using The Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)
You can also create “custom” Alt shortcuts using your Quick Access Toolbar. Below, after I’ve hit the Alt key, you can see that the 1, 2 and 3 key tips are hovering over the Sort options I’ve placed on the QAT. If I placed them on the right side of the QAT, the key tips would be different (08, 07 and 06, for example).
Using Alt shortcuts with the QAT that you see above, I get the following:
Sort Ascending: Alt-1
Sort Descending: Alt-2
Custom Sort Dialog Box: Alt-3
These are obviously very fast – but make sure you decide wisely which icons to put on this prime real estate. You may want to put something else there to take advantage of the fast Alt-1/2/3 shortcuts — something which you use often and which has no good shortcuts.
Menu Key Sort Shortcuts
The Menu Key (MK), when pushed, gives you the same menu as right-clicking. See below for a typical right-click menu (or “context menu”). The Sort option is at the bottom, and if I hover or click on it, I get the sub-menu showing to the right.
Instead of clicking away, I can alternatively just type the hot key for each option, in sequence. The hot keys are the underlined letters. So to sort Smallest To Largest, I type MK-O-S. Here are the three shortcuts using this method:
Sort Ascending: MK-O-S
Sort Descending: MK-O-O
Custom Sort Dialog Box: MK-O-U
There are often many ways to skin the cat when it comes to Excel shortcuts. The Alt and Menu Key techniques above can be applied to a multitude of other Excel tasks. Once you understand the mechanics, you’re on your way to becoming a shortcut guru.
For convenience sake, here again are all the shortcuts we covered:
* The exact Alt-# shortcut depends on how you set up your QAT.