I like to avoid using my mouse as much as possible, but on occasions when I need to type directly into the formula bar I am currently forced to 'rattle the rodent'. Does anyone know a way to move focus from the worksheet cells into the formula bar with a keystroke combination?


7 Answers 7


You should check the following article: Quick access to Excel formula bar via keyboard

If pressing [F2] positions the cursor in the cell instead of the Formula bar, do the following:

From the Tools menu, choose Options.
Click the Edit tab.
Uncheck the Edit Directly In Cell option in the Settings area.
Click OK.

If you’re using Excel 2007, do the following:

Click the Office button and then click Excel Options (at the bottom right).
Select Advanced in the left pane.
Uncheck the Allow Editing Directly In Cell option.
Click OK.

  • 1
    I have just learned that this can be done without changing the option, which I don't want to do. See my answer below and prepare to be as excited as me!
    – Polshgiant
    Nov 4, 2016 at 8:11

Use CtrlU to access the formula bar in the Mac OS X version of Microsoft Excel.

  • Ctrl-U also switches focus from search box to cell in Mac OS X version of Microsoft Excel.
    – Adam F
    May 25, 2016 at 18:17

I just learned that there's a way to do this without having to change the option that all of the other answers mention.

Press F2, then Ctrl+A.

This pleases me greatly.

Verified working in the following Microsoft Office for Windows versions: Excel 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016.

  • Great, I've been looking for that for ages! Sep 27, 2017 at 14:52
  • This seems to have stopped working in 2016. Didn't check other versions, not sure about those.
    – Polshgiant
    Oct 18, 2017 at 19:10
  • It still works in office 2010. Not sure after... Oct 18, 2017 at 19:14
  • 2
    Ctrl-A does not move to formula bar in Office 365(2016??So G.D.confusing) when you have edit in cell checked, regardless of = sign or not. It USED TO send you there when there was an = sign, so you could edit in cell, but anytime that the wrapping (which is NEVER desired, M.S. dumbf**ks) makes that practically useless, then Ctrl-A would transport you to formula bar. Unchecking edit in cell is unacceptable because it ALWAYS forces you to the formula bar, and the clueless way Excel redesigned the formula bar (so that it idiotically fills in from right to left) makes it a choice of last resort. Apr 3, 2019 at 16:13
  • 1
    Explaining previous comment: sometimes you want to edit in cell, when the wrapping does not kill visual feedback; but when the wrapping is too obfuscating, you want to use the formula bar, even though they've redesigned the the function bar so that, as insane as it sounds,they've made it so spreadsheet authors don't even WANT to use the formula bar!(It was awesome for decades but now it is as previous comment described choice of last resort.) But indeed it is sometimes the choice, because that stupid wrapping often makes it useless to edit w/in a cell. Anyway Ctrl-A no longer gets you there. Apr 3, 2019 at 16:21

Tools - Options - Edit - Edit directly in cell (untick)

Now, F2 will do it.


I just use F2 and edit cell content in place. I'm not sure if that gives any benefit / drawbacks over using the formula bar directly, though...


If using 2010 (I understand this is a old thread, for people searching these days), go to file, options, advanced, untick "allow editing directly in cell".

Then F2 should take you to formula bar.


You can edit the contents of a cell by pressing the F2 key.

A full listing of Excel keyboard shortcuts can be found in this XLS.

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