Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Toggling AutoFilter.

Toggling AutoFilter

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 22, 2015)

One of the handy features of Excel is AutoFilter. It allows you to quickly filter any list by the contents of a particular column. You can use the Customize option from the Tools menu to add an AutoFilter tool to your toolbars. This tool uses an image of a funnel and an equal sign.

The tool is a bit deceptive, however; it is not the same as the AutoFilter option available from the Data menu. The menu option is a toggle condition. If you have a cell selected in a list and you choose the menu option, then the AutoFilter controls appear at the top of each column in the list—there are no other changes to the list. If you use the AutoFilter tool, not only do the controls appear, but Excel filters the list based on the cell you had selected when you used the tool.

Another difference between the two is that the AutoFilter menu option functions like a toggle—choose it once, and the AutoFilter is applied; choose it again and it is removed. The AutoFilter tool doesn't do that; it only applies the AutoFilter.

What if you want a toolbar option that is a real toggle, just like the menu option? There are two approaches you can use to solve this problem. The first involves the use of a simple macro:

Sub ToggleAutoFilter()
    On Error GoTo errMessage
    Selection.AutoFilter
    Exit Sub

errMessage:
    MsgBox "Select a cell in the range to be filtered.", vbOKOnly
End Sub

All you need to do is assign the macro to a toolbar button or to a shortcut key and you can turn AutoFilter on and off, just as if you selected the option from the menus.

The second option may be even simpler. Just follow these steps:

  1. Choose Customize from the Tools menu. Word displays the Customize dialog box.
  2. In the actual Excel menus (not the Customize dialog box), select the Filter option from the Data menu.
  3. As you hold down the Ctrl key, drag the AutoFilter option from the menus and drop it someplace in a toolbar. (If you don't hold down the Ctrl key, the menu option is moved. You don't want to do this, so hold down the Ctrl key.)
  4. Click on the Close button on the Customize dialog box.

The result is that the menu option is now accessible from the toolbar. You can click on it to turn AutoFilter on and off, at will.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2710) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Toggling AutoFilter.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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