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: Switching Editing Location.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 28, 2015)
Nick knows that he can edit the contents of a cell either in the Formula bar or directly in the cell itself. He wonders if there is a way, while editing, to switch where the editing is taking place. For instance, if Nick is editing directly in a cell and he decides that he would rather be editing in the Formula bar (or vice versa), he would like to press a key to switch to the same exact place in the opposite editing location.
Excel does not provide a way to switch from one location to the other, nor can you set up a macro to do the switching for you. The reason is because of the two major modes that Excel uses—navigation mode and edit mode.
Navigation mode is when you can do things like use the arrow keys to move around the worksheet. When you press a shortcut key (either built-in or defined by you), Excel runs the command or macro associated with that shortcut.
Edit mode is entered as soon as you start typing something into a cell or when you choose to edit a cell (such as by pressing F2 or by double-clicking on a cell). When you are in edit mode, key presses don't work the same way as when you are in navigation mode. For instance, the right-arrow key doesn't move you to the cell to the right, it moves you a single character to the right within the cell contents. Similarly, you can't press a shortcut key to initiate a macro while you are in edit mode.
Because of these operational modes, the only way to switch your editing location when you are in edit mode (already editing cell contents) is to click the mouse pointer in the other location. Thus, if you were editing directly in the cell, you could click within the Formula bar to start editing there, and vice versa.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10200) 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: Switching Editing Location.
Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!
Need to edit the data within a cell? There are any number of ways you can perform the edit; this tip documents them all.Discover More
Do you need to know how many words are in a range of cells? Excel provides no intrinsic way to count the words, but you can ...Discover More
Select a range of cells, and one of those cells will always be the starting point for the range. This tip explains how to ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.