What is the Menu Key and why is it important in Excel?
This is a short but hopefully useful post.
Right-clicking, as you probably already know, brings up an Excel “context menu” that gives you quick access to lots of common commands. The menu differs, not surprisingly, based on the context. Hitting the Menu Key (or “Context Menu Key” or “Application Key”) brings up the identical menu. The Menu Key is typically located on the bottom right side of the keyboard, somewhere between the Alt and Ctrl keys. Below is a picture (your keyboard may be different and smaller keyboards may not even include it – but if yours doesn’t you should consider getting one that does — see my Excel Keyboard Review):
If you look at a close-up you’ll see that it resembles a mouse pointing at a drop-down menu – as if you had just right clicked.
Thus, you can use the Menu Key to do things in Excel like Paste Special, Insert, Delete, open the Format Cells dialog box and other things you might normally do with the mouse.
If your ultimate goal is to become a keyboard only user in Excel, then the Menu Key is very helpful. It can turn hybrid shortcuts (that combine the mouse and the keyboard) into plain old keyboard shortcuts. And it can provide shortcuts that are faster than Alt shortcuts or other keyboard shortcuts.
In general, I advocate using the Menu Key (vs. the mouse) when your right hand is already on (or going to) the keyboard. Otherwise, I find right clicking to be a faster way to pull up the context menu.