Excel Not Filtering Entire Column (9 Reasons with Solutions)

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Filtering is the process of hiding rows that do not match the applied filter. After filtering, you can extract some specific data from the entire dataset. You receive a specific array of data through filtering that corresponds to the selected terms. However, sometimes you may discover that Excel is not filtering the entire column, which can be inconvenient and time-consuming to resolve. Several factors, including hidden rows, filters that have been applied to other columns, or problems with the data type, can cause this problem.

I will cover the potential causes of Excel not filtering the entire column in this post, along with step-by-step instructions for fixing the issue.  I will show how to check for hidden rows, clear all filters, check the data format, and troubleshoot other issues that may be causing the problem.

In the below image, we have shown you some cases of Excel not filtering the entire column.

overview image of Excel not filtering entire column

Excel Not Filtering Entire Column: 9 Possible Reasons with Solutions

This section will discuss nine possible reasons and solutions for why Excel does not filter an entire column. We’ll use a sample dataset with some products and information about the zone, delivery date, quantity, and status so that you can understand it better. This section provides extensive details on these solutions.

You should learn and apply these to improve your thinking capability and Excel knowledge. We use the Microsoft Office 365 version here, but you can utilize any other version according to your preference.

Reason 1: When There Are Blank Cells/Rows in the Table’s Column

Let’s say a dataset contains rows that are empty. When you apply a filter in such circumstances without selecting the entire table, Excel will not filter the entire column.

Excel not filtering entire if there are blank rows in dataset

  • Consider the scenario where you want to obtain all the information for the Area 1 zone.
  • To do this, go to the Data tab, select the Filter option, and then click the drop-down.
  • However, the Area 3 and Area 5 options for filtering are not available here. The filter option is based on information prior to the first blank row.

select Area 1 to show Excel not filtering entire column

  • The following one will appear if you filter based on the Area 1 zone. Consequently, Excel did not filter the entire column.

filter doesn’t work

Solution 1: Delete Blank Cells from the Table’s Column

There are two solutions. One is you can remove every empty row. You will receive the appropriate filter after removing the rows.

delete blank cells

Solution 2: Select the Whole Dataset Manually

The second option is to manually select the entire dataset. Let’s look at the solution in detail.

  • Select the entire dataset >> go to the Data tab >> from the Sort & Filter group >> select Filter.

select filter option

  • Next, select Zone by clicking the drop-down arrow. Here, you have access to every option.
  • Select Area 1 from the list and press OK.

select Area 1 option

  • Therefore, Excel will filter the entire column.

select whole set manually

Reason 2: Excel Will Not Filter Entire Column If the Worksheet Is Protected

Occasionally, if your worksheet is protected as shown below, the Filter tab might not work. In that situation, Excel won’t let you filter an entire column.

worksheet is protected

Solution: Unlock the Protected Worksheet

The aforementioned issue can be resolved simply. Just unlock your password-protected worksheet. Then Excle will filter the entire column based on the criteria.

  • First, go to the Review tab and click on Unprotect Sheet.

unprotect worksheet

  • Next, you need to enter a password as shown below.

enter password

Reason 3:  Excel Cannot Filter Entire Column When Cells Are Merged

Excel won’t filter the entire column if your dataset contains merged cells. For instance, the mouse, keyboard, and battery are in the same zone.

cells are merged

  • Now, we will filter based on Area 1.

select Area 1

  • Therefore, rather than filtering the entire column, Excel will only filter the mouse and battery.

Filter doesn’t work properly

Solution: Unmerge Cells

Let’s take a look at the solution.

  • First, go to the Home tab >> from Alignment group >> uncheck Merge & Center option to unmerge the cells.
  • Then, copy the zone and paste it for the Keyboard product.
  • Now, apply a filter and get the proper filter.

select Merge and Center

  • Therefore, Excel will filter the entire column.

unmerge cells

Reason 4: If There Are Hidden Rows, Filtering Entire Column Will Not Work

The full column will not be filtered in the case of hidden rows. In this workbook, the eighth and ninth rows, for instance, are hidden. Area 5 won’t appear if you apply a filter to the Zone column. The filter options only take into account visible cells.

showing hidden rows

Solution: Unhide Rows

In this situation, you must unhide the rows.

  • To do so, right-click your mouse to get the Context Menu >> from the Context Menu Bar >> select Unhide.
  • So, Excel will unhide the rows.
  • Now, you can filter the entire column.

unhide rows

Reason 5: Column Headers in Two Merged Rows Can Cause Filtering Entire Column Not to Work

When using the Filter option, you will also receive a portion of the column header if you maintain column headers in two rows.

column headers are in two merged cells

  • As a result, Excel will not correctly filter the entire column, as illustrated below.

Excel will not correctly filter the entire column

Solution: Check Your Column Headings and Wrap Text in the Header

In this scenario, you can wrap the text if necessary to maintain the column header’s two-line format. Or, you could use a single cell to write the column header.

Excel will correctly filter the entire column

Reason 6: You Cannot Filter Entire Column When There Are Any Error Values

Let’s say your dataset has a mistake. If you don’t use that column, this error won’t affect filtering. For instance, there is a mistake in the Amount column. Therefore, filtering by the product, zone, or delivery date will be effective. However, selecting the Amount column will present a challenge.

showing error in the dataset

  • We’re looking for the top three amounts here. So, we must implement Number Filters.
  • Next, click on the Filter icon beside Amount >> From Number Filters >> select Top 10 >> get the Top 10 AutoFilter dialog box.
  • Then, from the Top 10 AutoFilter dialog box >> set the number to 3 >> press OK.

select top 3 amounts

  • Excel will not, however, filter the full column due to the error, and you will not receive the top three amounts.

filter doesn’t work

Solution: Check for Errors and Remove Errors

To fix the problem, you must eliminate the error. You could also fix the error you made. Apply the filter after that to get the right outcome. You will be able to filter and obtain the top three amounts as indicated below once the errors have been eliminated.

remove errors

Reason 7:  The Worksheets Are Grouped

For grouped sheets, you cannot filter the data. See the image below. Filter is not a selected option. As a result, no filter may be used.

worksheets are grouped

Solution: Ungroup Sheets in the Workbook

To solve the above problem, you must ungroup Excel Sheets.

  • To do this, simply right-click any sheet and choose Ungroup Sheets from the Context Menu Bar.
  • After that, the Filter button will work and Excel will filter the entire column.

ungroup sheets

Reason 8: The List Is Already Filtered

Sometimes Excel will not filter the entire column as the list is already filtered as shown below.

list is already filtered

  • For instance, because the list is already filtered based on the Zone column if we filter the status column based on time criteria, we will not get the proper filtering as shown below.

select the criteria

  • After filtering based on the Status column, as shown below, we will only receive three products’ information rather than four products’ information.

showing output of second filter

Solution: Clear Filter Criteria from List

To resolve this problem, you need to clear the first filtered criteria.

  • To clear criteria from the list, go to the Data tab and select the Clear option from Sort & Filter.

clear the filtering

Reason 9: Excel Not Filtering Entire Column Due to Some New Information Added to the Existing One

Let’s say you filtered the data according to the Area 2 zone. Then include some details about two additional products. The filter fails to function automatically. Therefore, the filtered data will show the newly inserted rows.

adding new information in existing one

Solution: Re-Apply Filter

You can easily solve the problem.

  • To resolve this problem, select the whole dataset and go to the Data tab and select Reapply.

reapply filter

  • As a result, Excel will filter the entire column according to the criteria Area 2 and display the output shown below.

showing the output

How to Fix Filter Greyed Out (Unselectable) in Excel

Excel will prevent you from using the Filter function if you have more than one sheet selected. The Filter feature in Excel is instantly greyed out when your sheet is protected.

when filter is grayed out

Here are a few practical solutions you can use if the filter feature on your Excel application is grayed out

Solution 1: Ungroup Sheets in the Workbook

To solve the above problem, you must ungroup Excel Sheets.

  • To do this, simply right-click any sheet and choose Ungroup Sheets from the Context Menu Bar.
  • After that, the Filter button will work and Excel will filter the entire column.

ungroup sheets

Solution 2: Unlock the Protected Worksheet

The aforementioned issue can be resolved simply. Just unlock your password-protected worksheet.

  • First, go to the Review tab and click on Unprotect Sheet.

unlock protected sheets

  • Next, you need to enter a password as shown below.

enter a password

How to Solve If the ‘Equals’ Filter Isn’t Working in Excel

As the “Equals” function interacts with the Excel Filter option, it is important to ensure that all rows and columns of integers have the same format.

If your Excel is not displaying the correct data while using the Equals filter, Number filter, or Date filter, then check to see if the format of your data is the same or not.

Consider a scenario in which you have 2 cells with 1000 input as data in each cell. There are two cells: one with a “currency” format and the other with a “number” format. As a result, Excel will only get matches when you select the “Number Filters, Equals” option and provide the number format.

For example, we will demonstrate the problem using the dataset below. We can see two types of data formats in the Amount column: currency format and number format.

different format of data in Amount column

  • Now, from the drop arrow of the Amount column, select Number Filters and then choose Equals option

Select Equals option

  • Then type any number based on your dataset.

type the number

  • As a result, you will receive the following incorrect output, indicating that the Equals filter is not functioning properly.

equal filter is not working

Make sure you’ve typed the numbers in the right format, then try pressing the “Equals” button once more.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is my “Filter by color” not Working?

There are two possible causes for your spreadsheet’s color filtering not to be functioning. The first is whether you have shared the worksheet or if all of your cells have the same color. Go to Review > Unshare Workbook to unshare a workbook.

2. How to Fix Excel not grouping dates in filters?

The grouping dates in filters may occasionally become inactive. So, for a step-by-step tutorial on how to enable it, click here.

  • First, go to the file menu and select Options.
  • Next, select the Advanced tab. Click on Group Dates in the AutoFilter menu from the Display Option for this Workbook section.

3. What is the shortcut to filter all columns?

To filter all columns in Excel, press Ctrl+Shift+L. This will apply a filter to the currently selected cells or, if none are selected, to the entire table. After the filter has been applied, you can filter the information in each column using the drop-down arrows in the column headers. Simply click the “Clear Filter” button under the “Data” tab to turn the filter off, or press the “Ctrl+Shift+L” shortcut once more.

4. How do I filter multiple items in one column?

Press CTRL+SHIFT+L >> click on the drop-down arrow of that column >> check multiple items from the Filter dialog box.

💡 Things to Remember

  • When defining criteria, we must follow the proper format. For instance, the filter will not work if the dates in your list are formatted according to the m/d/yyyy standard for the United States and you specify criteria that use yy/m/d.
  • You should unprotect the worksheet.
  • Remember to select the entire dataset.
  • Unhide all the rows.

Download Practice Workbook

Download this practice workbook to exercise while you are reading this article. It contains all the datasets in different spreadsheets for a clear understanding. Try yourself while you go through the step-by-step process.


That’s the end of today’s session. I am confident that you will be able to solve the problem of Excel not filtering the entire column as of now. You will be able to use a shortcut to filter all columns as well as filter multiple items in a single column.

Keep learning new methods and keep growing!

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Saquib Ahmad Shuvo
Saquib Ahmad Shuvo

Saquib Ahmad Bhuiyan, holding a BSc degree in Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, skillfully integrates engineering expertise with a passion for Excel. He provides solutions to complex issues as an Excel & VBA Content Developer for ExcelDemy Forum. He demonstrates an enthusiastic mindset and adeptness in managing critical situations with finesse, showcasing his commitment to excellence. Apart from creating Excel tutorials, he is interested in Data Analysis with MS Excel, Rhinoceros,... Read Full Bio

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