F4 on Mac Excel Shortcut: Mastering Key Efficiency Boosters

The F4 key is a powerful Excel shortcut that many users rely on, especially in the Windows version of the software. However, if you are using Excel on a Mac, you might encounter some challenges when attempting to use this handy tool. F4, in Excel, can toggle between different types of cell references, making it easier to create and modify formulas. This key is essential for users who need to change between absolute and relative references quickly.

While the overall functionality of Excel shortcuts on a Mac is similar to a Windows system, there are subtle differences in key configurations, which might lead to confusion for first-time Mac users. Fortunately, you can still achieve the same results as you would with the F4 key on Windows, by making a few adjustments to your keyboard settings and understanding the Mac-specific shortcuts. Having this knowledge will help you work more efficiently in Excel and ensure your experience remains consistent across both platforms.

Key Takeaways

  • The F4 key in Excel is useful for toggling between cell reference types
  • Mac Excel shortcuts have subtle differences compared to Windows, which might require adjustments
  • Understanding Mac-specific shortcuts is essential for both beginner and advanced users.

Understanding Excel Shortcuts on Mac

As a Mac user, you may find some differences in using Excel shortcuts on your Mac computer compared to a Windows system. The good news is that there are still plenty of keyboard shortcuts available to make your work in Excel efficient and seamless.

To begin with, it is crucial to ensure that you have the Function keys enabled on your Mac. You can do this by going to System Preferences > Keyboard and checking the box that says “Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys.” This way, you can utilize the function keys such as F4 for Excel shortcuts without needing to press the “fn” key.

When it comes to understanding Excel shortcuts on Mac, there are some key differences to be aware of compared to their Windows counterparts. For instance, you’ll often replace the “Ctrl” key used on Windows with the “Command” key on Mac. For example, copying the selection to the clipboard using a Windows computer would require pressing Ctrl + C, while on a Mac, it would be Command + C.

Here’s a brief overview of some common Mac Excel shortcuts:

  • Cut the selection: Command + X
  • Copy the selection: Command + C
  • Paste the selection: Command + V
  • Undo the last action: Command + Z
  • Redo or repeat the last action: Command + Y

While some specific shortcuts might differ between Windows and Mac, you can still perform most of the essential tasks easily.

Utilizing these keyboard shortcuts in your daily tasks can significantly improve your productivity and efficiency in Excel. So, take some time to familiarize yourself with these shortcuts and make the most of your Mac experience.

Fundamentals of F4 Shortcut in Excel

The F4 key is a valuable keyboard shortcut in Excel that can save you time and increase your productivity. This shortcut is designed to help you perform a variety of tasks quickly and efficiently.

One basic function of the F4 key is to repeat the last action you performed in Excel. For instance, if you just formatted a cell or a range of cells, pressing the F4 key will repeat the formatting for the selected cell or cells repeatedly until you perform another action. This way, you can easily apply consistent formatting across your spreadsheet without manually repeating every single step.

Another important function of the F4 shortcut in Excel is to create absolute cell references. When you’re working with formulas and cell references, it’s often necessary to lock the reference to a particular cell. By pressing F4 while entering a formula, you can toggle between relative and absolute cell referencing, adding dollar signs ($) before both the column and row reference (e.g., $B$5).

For Mac users, you might notice that the F4 key doesn’t produce the same results on your keyboard by default. To be able to use the F4 key in Excel on a Mac, you’ll need to modify the keyboard settings. Access “System Preferences” on your Mac, then select “Keyboard” and modify the settings accordingly to enable the use of the F4 shortcut.

In summary, the F4 shortcut in Excel is an essential tool you should familiarize yourself with to enhance your productivity and work more efficiently. Remember to take advantage of this powerful keyboard shortcut as you navigate through your spreadsheets and perform various tasks.

Switching Between Absolute and Relative References

When working with Excel on a Mac, it is important to know how to switch between absolute and relative cell references. Absolute and relative references are essential when creating formulas, as they determine how cell references change when formulas are copied or moved to different locations in your spreadsheet.

To toggle between absolute and relative references using a keyboard shortcut, you can press Command + T. For instance, if you have a formula that uses a relative reference (e.g., =A1+B1), and you want to change the reference to A1 to an absolute reference (e.g., =$A$1+B1), simply place your cursor inside the formula, next to the A1 reference, and press Command + T.

However, if you prefer to use the same shortcuts as in the Windows version of Excel, you can also use the fn + F4 shortcut to switch between absolute, relative, and mixed cell references. This allows for a consistent experience when working with Excel on both Mac and Windows platforms.

When using these shortcuts, it is important to ensure that your cursor is placed within the appropriate cell reference. The Command + T (or fn + F4) shortcut will not work if your cursor is outside the target cell reference in the formula. Properly utilizing these shortcuts can help to improve your workflow and efficiency within Excel.

In conclusion, switching between absolute and relative references in Excel on a Mac may be slightly different from the Windows version, but it is still achievable with simple keyboard shortcuts. Mastering these shortcuts can save you time and effort while working on your spreadsheets and ensure that your formulas are accurate and reliable.

Usage of F4 Shortcut in Different Actions

Formatting With F4

When you need to apply the same formatting to multiple cells in Excel, the F4 shortcut can save you time. For instance, if you highlighted a cell in yellow and want to apply the same formatting to another cell, you can simply select the new cell and press F4. This will repeat your last action, allowing you to quickly apply identical formatting throughout your worksheet.

Navigating With F4

Using the F4 shortcut in conjunction with other keys can help you navigate your Excel workbook more efficiently. On a Mac, the F4 key may not function the same way as it does in Windows. However, by combining other shortcuts, such as pressing the ⌘ key alongside the arrow keys, you can swiftly move between cells, rows, and columns within your workbook.

Editing With F4

Another great application of the F4 shortcut is when editing formulas. When you want to change a cell reference from relative to absolute, you can use F4 to toggle between the different reference types. However, on a Mac, the F4 shortcut may not work for this purpose. Instead, use the ⌘ + T shortcut to toggle between absolute and relative references when editing formulas.

Insert Comment With F4

Inserting comments in Excel can quickly be done using the F4 shortcut. On a Windows system, you can simply select the desired cell and press Shift + F2 to insert a comment. After typing your comment, pressing F4 will automatically move to the next cell and open a new comment box, allowing you to add consecutive comments throughout your worksheet. Unfortunately, this specific shortcut might not work for Mac users, but alternative options are available.

File and Workbook Management With F4

The F4 shortcut can also be used for managing your Excel workbooks and files, although its functionality may differ between Windows and Mac systems. On Windows, pressing Alt + F4 will close the current workbook. If you wish to perform a similar action on a Mac, you can use the ⌘ + Q shortcut to close your Excel application, saving your work beforehand. Remember always to back up your files and workbooks for safety.

Comparison of Excel Shortcuts: Mac vs Windows

When working with Excel, keyboard shortcuts can save you time and increase your productivity. However, there are some differences between Mac and Windows shortcuts that you should be aware of. In this section, we will compare Excel shortcuts on Mac and Windows and provide some examples to help you work efficiently on both platforms.

The main difference between Mac and Windows shortcuts is the modifier key used in combination with other keys. On a Mac, the Command key (⌘) is typically used, while on Windows, the Control key (Ctrl) takes its place. For instance, copying a cell in Excel on a Mac would require pressing ⌘ + C, whereas Windows users would use Ctrl + C.

Another key difference is in the use of the Function keys (F1, F2, F3, etc.). In some cases, Macs require the use of the ‘fn’ key along with the desired Function key. For example, to access the ‘F4’ shortcut in Excel on a Mac, you may need to press ‘fn + F4’. On Windows, you can simply press the ‘F4’ key.

Here is a list of some common Excel shortcuts and their equivalents on Mac and Windows:

  • Creating a new workbook: Mac (⌘ + N), Windows (Ctrl + N)
  • Save a workbook: Mac (⌘ + S), Windows (Ctrl + S)
  • Open print preview: Mac (⌘ + P), Windows (Ctrl + P)
  • Closing a workbook: Mac (⌘ + W), Windows (Ctrl + W)
  • Exit Excel: Mac (⌘ + Q), Windows (Alt + F4)

Keep in mind that while most shortcuts are similar, there might be some unique ones for each platform. It’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the shortcuts on the platform you are using.

Shortcut Alternatives to F4 Key

Command Keys

One alternative to Mac Excel’s F4 shortcut is the Command key which is commonly used for basic tasks like copying, pasting, and saving. For example, to save your work, press Command + S. To copy, press Command + C, and to paste, press Command + V. These shortcuts are easy to remember and can boost your productivity.

Function Keys

Mac keyboards provide a wide array of function keys (F1-F12) for specific tasks. Although the F4 key has no direct equivalent in Mac Excel, you can use other function keys to achieve specific shortcuts. For instance, Shift + F3 will insert a function into the selected cell, and F2 will let you edit the cell content. Familiarizing yourself with function keys can help you navigate more efficiently within Mac Excel.

Control Key

The Control key on Mac keyboards acts as a modifier key, similar to the Command key. Some common Control key shortcuts include Ctrl + S for saving and Ctrl + W for closing the current window. Additionally, you can use Ctrl + Shift + F4 to open the Workbook Selector, which allows you to switch between open Excel files.

Shift Keys

The Shift key, when combined with other keys, offers additional Excel shortcuts. For example, Shift + F4 can help you find a specific text or data in your spreadsheet. Although this may not replace the exact functionality of the F4 key, it is essential to know these alternatives can help optimize your workflow and overall experience in Mac Excel.

Useful Tips for Beginners

As a beginner, learning to use the F4 key in Excel on a Mac can be quite helpful in streamlining your tasks. Here are some practical tips to guide you in using this keyboard shortcut effectively.

When you want to use F4 to repeat the last action in Excel, keep in mind that the command for Mac users is different from Windows users. Instead of pressing “F4” directly, you need to press “Cmd + Y” on your Mac keyboard. This will allow you to repeat actions such as formatting, inserting rows, or making changes to shapes.

To make the F4 key itself function in Excel on a Mac, you need to modify your keyboard settings. Head to “System Preferences” and select “Keyboard.” Here, you can adjust settings to enable Excel-specific functionality for the F4 key.

If you’re looking to use Absolute Cell References in Excel on a Mac, the F4 key won’t work as it does on Windows. Instead, you need to use “Command + T” or “⌘+T” as a shortcut.

To utilize function keys like F1-F12 as standard function keys on your Mac, simply hold down the “Fn” key while pressing the desired function key.

Remember, as a beginner, it’s normal to need some time to familiarize yourself with these keyboard shortcuts. With consistent practice, you’ll soon find that using these tips can greatly increase your efficiency in Excel on your Mac!

Advanced Excel Shortcuts

As an avid Mac Excel user, you might already be familiar with some basic shortcuts, but let’s explore a handful of advanced techniques to boost your productivity further. These shortcuts will help you become a confident and knowledgeable Excel user.

When it comes to navigating the Ribbon, you can use ⌘+⌥+R to access it directly and then use the arrow keys to move around. Press Enter to select the desired option. Remember that Paste Special is your powerful friend, as it lets you choose from a variety of pasting methods. To access Paste Special, use ⌘+CNTRL+V and then choose your preferred option.

Enhance your data analysis with Power Pivot – just press ⌥+⇧+P and watch how swiftly you can build complex data models and relationships. Don’t forget that when editing cell content, you can use F2 to enter the edit mode and then modify the content.

Working with macros can save you a lot of time. To open the Macro dialog box, hit ⌥+F8. This will enable you to create, edit, run, or delete macros at your convenience. Additionally, apply conditional formatting to your data using ⌥+⇧+F to highlight specific patterns or trends.

Incorporate sparklines in your worksheet by selecting cells and pressing ⌥+⇧+S. Sparklines provide a quick visual representation of trends in your data. Similarly, you can create charts to visualize complex information using the shortcut ⌥+⇧+C.

Lastly, get a clutter-free view by entering Full Screen mode. Use ⌃+⌘+F to switch between regular and full screen mode, enabling you to focus better on the task at hand.

By mastering these shortcuts, you’ll not only become more efficient in Excel, but also find it easier to execute complex tasks with confidence and clarity.


In conclusion, mastering the use of the F4 key in Excel on a Mac can greatly improve your efficiency and productivity. This shortcut offers various functionalities that will aid you in your daily tasks.

Using the F4 key on a Mac in Excel can let you repeat your last action such as formatting, inserting or deleting rows, and making changes to shapes. This can save you time and effort, as you won’t need to perform the same tasks multiple times.

Practice using F4 and other Excel shortcuts to familiarize yourself with their functionalities. Once you become proficient in these shortcuts, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your productivity and efficiency when working with Excel on your Mac.


  • James Davis

    Tech geek, excel super-user, software guru, and your go-to guy for all things digital. James has spent over a decade diving deep into the latest software and gadgets, making tech jargon easy for the rest of us. When he's not geeking out over the newest release, he's probably hunting for some new Excel tips as James spent 7 years perfecting his excel skills!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.