How to Drag Cells in Excel Using Keyboard (2 Cases)

To drag cells in Excel using keyboard, follow these steps:

  1. Select the range holding the Shift and arrow keys.
  2. Press Ctrl+D to fill the value down, or Ctrl+R to fill it right.

It will fill the values for the selected cells.

Dragging values is particularly useful for time-saving tasks such as data entry, creating consistent calculations, and replicating patterns. It contributes to a more efficient and organized Excel workflow.

In this Excel tutorial, we will discuss how to drag cells using only keyboard shortcuts.

The usual method for dragging a cell value is using the fill handle icon towards the end of the range. However, some keyboard shortcuts are available if you want to avoid using a mouse completely.

In the following figure, we have used keyboard shortcuts to the drag value “Marketing” down.

Original and dragged values using keyboard

2 Cases of Dragging Cells in Excel Using Keyboard

There are two shortcuts to drag cell values for two different scenarios. They are:

Drag Values Vertically Down Using Ctrl+D

Suppose, there is a dataset of Employee ID, Full Name and Department in the range B6:D16. Multiple people belong to the same department. Instead of inserting each value individually, we can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+D to fill up the value downwards.

Data before dragging

Follow the steps below to drag cells downward:

  1. Select the first cell.
    Selecting the first cell before dragging
  2. Hold the Shift key and down arrow to select the range below.
    Selecting range before using vertical drag shortcut
  3. Press Ctrl+D to fill the empty cells with the first value.
    Ctrl+D shortcut to drag cells down
  4. Repeat the process for all of the ranges.
    Repeating drag down for every values

The cell values will fill downward.

This process only fills the topmost values downward in the selection.

Read More: How to Enable Drag Formula in Excel

Drag Values Horizontally Using Ctrl+R

Now take a dataset like the following image where the salaries of the employees remained the same in April and May.

Excel sheet before dragging cells right

We need to drag these values to the right. The shortcut is Ctrl+R for Excel in this case.

Follow these steps to drag cells horizontally using keyboard:

  1. Select the first data.
    Our initial data is in the range D7:D16. So, we selected the whole range.
    Selecting cells before dragging
  2. Now hold the Shift and right arrow keys to select the cells on the right.
    Selecting the range beside
  3. Press Ctrl+R to fill the cells on the right.
    Cells dragged horizontally using Ctrl+R

The cell values will fill horizontally after that.

This process only copies the leftmost values to the right.

Read More: How to Drag Formula in Excel with Keyboard

Other Keyboard Shortcuts: Alternatives of Dragging Cells

The keyboard shortcuts we discussed above are dedicated to dragging copy the value down or right. There are other shortcuts available too which accomplish the same task. Although, not particularly for dragging, they can copy or fill down, or mimic the filling process.

Other keyboard shortcuts you can use to drag cell values in Excel are:

1. Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V

This is the shortcut for copying and pasting- which is the same thing the dragging shortcut offers.

Follow these steps to use the copy-paste shortcuts to fill values in Excel:

  1. Select the range you want to copy.
  2. Press Ctrl+C to copy the range.
    Copying the range
  3. Now move to the cell you want to paste the value.
  4. Press Ctrl+V to paste the range.
    Pasting the range

2. Ctrl+Enter

This shortcut fills a range with the same value. The main difference between this key combination with others is this one requires us to select the range first before entering a value. Then using the key combination we can fill out the range with a single value or formula.

Follow these steps to quickly fill a selected range of cells with the content of the active cell:

  1. Select the range first using the Shift and arrow keys.
  2. Then press F2. The first cell in the selection will go into Edit mode.
  3. Insert the value in the first cell manually.
    Edit mode after selecting a range
  4. Now press Ctrl+Enter.
    Range filled using Ctrl+Enter

This will fill up the selection with the same value.

If the first cell in the selection has a value, you don’t need to insert it again. Go into the Edit mode and press Ctrl+Enter to fill in the value.

Read More: How to Drag Formula and Ignore Hidden Cells in Excel

3. Access Key Combinations

Pressing the Alt key in Excel, you will see letters underlined in the ribbon or menu options. Press one of these letters while holding down the Alt key and you will activate the corresponding command.

These are not actual shortcuts. The key combinations mimic what we do from the ribbon with keyboards. We can use the fill feature (what dragging accomplishes) from the ribbon with Alt key combinations.
Follow these steps to use access key combinations instead of dragging:

  1. Select the cells you want to fill. The first cell in the selection should be the one containing the value.
    We have selected the D13:D16 range for the demonstration. Cell D13 contains the value we will drag.
    Selecting range for drag including the first value
  2. Now press Alt, H, F, I, and S in order.
  3. The Series box will appear. Select AutoFill from here.
    You can navigate using the Shift and arrow keys from the keyboard if you want to avoid using the mouse completely.
    Series options
  4. Click on OK.

Now the rest of the cells will have the initial value.

Cells filled with access keys

Read More: How to Use Fill Handle to Copy Formula in Excel

Download Practice Workbook


Dragging cells in Excel using keyboard shortcuts enhances efficiency and precision in data manipulation. Keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl+R, and Ctrl+D offer a quick alternative to dragging the mouse cursor. Other shortcuts such as Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V, Ctrl+Enter, and Alt key combinations also offer the same result that ensures streamlined workflow.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or recommendations, let us know in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to drag formula in Excel using keyboard?

You can replicate a formula downwards using the Ctrl+D shortcut and horizontally right using Ctrl+R. These are the vertical and horizontal drag shortcuts we mentioned above. They work for replicating formulas too.

How to copy above cell in Excel?

Use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+ “ (quote) to copy the content from the cell above. The main difference between this shortcut and Ctrl+D is that Ctrl+D replicates formulas with respective cell references. Meanwhile, Ctrl+Shift+“ will only copy and paste the value.

What is the Flash Fill shortcut in Excel?

Excel’s Flash Fill shortcut is Ctrl+E. Insert a value, and select the range including the first value. Then press Ctrl+E. Excel will sense the pattern and fill up the rest of the value. Depending on the complexity of the range and changes, you may need to insert more than one value.

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Naimul Hasan Arif
Naimul Hasan Arif

Naimul Hasan Arif, a BUET graduate in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, has been contributing to the ExcelDemy project for nearly two years. Currently serving as an Excel and VBA Content Developer, Arif has written more than 120 articles and has also provided user support through comments His expertise lies in Microsoft Office Suite, VBA and he thrives on learning new aspects of data analysis. Arif's dedication to the ExcelDemy project is reflected in his consistent contributions and... Read Full Bio

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