Adjusting Date Values by Keypress

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 25, 2019)

Robert notes that in a Quicken date field, if he presses the plus or minus key the date increments or decrements by one day. He would like to create this same sort of effect in Excel.

This is a harder problem to approach than one might assume, particularly in Excel. Since an action needs to be taken upon the pressing of a particular key (in this case, the plus or minus keys), one would naturally assume that the OnKey method could be used. Consider the following examples:

Sub Start_OnKey()
    Application.OnKey "{+}", "Plus1"
    Application.OnKey "-", "Minus1"
End Sub
Sub End_OnKey()
    Application.OnKey "{+}"
    Application.OnKey "-"
End Sub
Sub Plus1()
    If IsDate(ActiveCell) And Not ActiveCell.HasFormula Then
        ActiveCell.Value = ActiveCell.Value + 1
    End If
End Sub
Sub Minus1()
    If IsDate(ActiveCell) And Not ActiveCell.HasFormula Then
        ActiveCell.Value = ActiveCell.Value - 1
    End If
End Sub

According to all the VBA documentation, the above should work just fine, once you run the Start_OnKey macro. Every time a plus or minus key is pressed, the appropriate procedure is run to either increment the date or decrement the date. The problem is, it won't work on some versions of Excel. Why? Because the plus key, when pressed, apparently puts some versions of Excel into a special "formula entry" mode that bypasses the normal keyboard buffer relied upon by OnKey. So while pressing the minus key while a cell containing a date is selected produces the desired result, pressing the plus key does not.

For those versions of Excel where the plus key is a problem, the only solution is to change the keystrokes to something else. For instance, you could change the keypresses so that Ctrl+u is used to increment the date and Ctrl+d is used to decrement the date:

Sub Start_OnKey()
    Application.OnKey "^u", "Plus1"
    Application.OnKey "^d", "Minus1"
End Sub
Sub End_OnKey()
    Application.OnKey "^u"
    Application.OnKey "^d"
End Sub

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7197) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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