MS Excel Tip: Using the Ctrl key while auto-filling

In previous Tips we’ve seen that across multiple platforms, including Windows and Excel, holding down the control key while dragging and dropping anything that can be dragged and dropped creates a copy instead of moving it, including Excel Sheets and Cells.

In other words, holding down the ctrl key, kind of does the opposite to what it would normally do. That’s a good thing to remember when you’re wanting Excel to do something other than what is does by default.

For example, when dragging the Autofill handle of a cell that contains a number, it just replicates that number across those cells. If you hold down the ctrl key at the same time, it generates a series. Dates, for some reason work the other way around. By default, it generates a series, where-as holding the ctrl key simply replicates the date. Interestingly enough, when highlighted together, the default is to generate a series for both, where-as the ctrl simply replicates both.

Not sure what the thinking was behind these differences, however, just remember if you want it to perform the opposite, hold down the ctrl key!

Helpful? Here's another useful Excel tip focusing on the use of the Ctrl key to select specific cells.

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