Fill Handle Not Working in Excel (5 Solutions)

Solution 1: Enable the Fill Handle Option

When working with a dataset in Excel, you might encounter situations where the fill handle is not visible, preventing you from using it. To resolve this, follow these steps:

Enable Fill Handle Option

  • Click the File option in your worksheet.

Enable Fill Handle Option

  • Choose Options from the menu.

  • In the Excel Options window, select Advanced.
  • Check the box next to Enable fill handle and cell-drag-and-drop.
  • Press OK to apply the changes.

Enable Fill Handle Option

Now, when you select cells from your dataset, the fill handle icon should be visible.

Enable Fill Handle Option

You can drag it down to fill the column with values.

Read More: How to Enable Drag Formula in Excel


Solution 2: Select the Proper Sequence of Data

Make sure to select the appropriate sequence from your dataset. Common issues include:

  • Selecting only one cell and dragging it, which duplicates the same value across other cells.
  • Accidentally including an extra blank cell, leading to an unwanted gap in the sequence.

For example, if I select a single cell (B6) and drag it downwards to fill other cells, I might not get the desired sequence.

Select Proper Sequence

Instead, the entire column gets filled with the value from the initially chosen cell.

Similarly, if I mistakenly select an extra blank cell and then drag it down to fill, as demonstrated by selecting cells B5:B7 and dragging them below to fill,

Select Proper Sequence

I end up with an unnecessary blank cell between the sequence.

Select Proper Sequence Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

To avoid these problems:

  1. Choose cells where the proper sequence appears (e.g., B5:B6).
  2. Drag the fill handle down to maintain the desired sequence.

Select Proper Sequence Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • We will get our proper sequence in the column.

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


Solution 3: Check Calculation Options

The fill handle serves different purposes. You can adjust its behavior using the Calculation Options:

  • Select cells (B5:B6) that you want to fill.
  • Drag down the “fill handle” icon.

Check Calculation Option

  • You will see, after dragging down the fill handle that the cells are filled with the same data from those two cells which we don’t want to see in our filled columns.

Check Calculation Option

  • If the cells are filled with unwanted data, go to Formulas > Calculation Options > Automatic.

Check Calculation Option Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • Now drag the fill handle again to get the correct sequence.

Check Calculation Option Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel


Solution 4: Use Keyboard Shortcut

This method is the quickest solution to solve the fill handle not working problem. Just by pressing the F4 key several times, you will get your desired result.

  • Choose cells from the workbook (e.g., B5:B6).
  • Press the F4 key three times.

Use Keyboard Shortcut Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • Drag the fill handle down to populate the cells (e.g., B5:B13).

Use Keyboard Shortcut Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • You will get your required output in the cells (B5:B13).

Read More: How to Drag Formula in Excel with Keyboard


Solution 5: Clearing Filters from a Data Table

In this solution, I’ll describe an essential technique you’ll encounter when working with a fill handle in a filtered data table. Let’s assume we have a filtered table containing data on employees, their salaries, and bonus amounts in a workbook. I’ll guide you through the steps to avoid issues with the fill handle within a filtered table.

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

Problem:

  • Filter the employee names from the dataset.
  • Click the filter option and uncheck some names from the list.
  • Press OK.

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • After filtering, hidden rows will appear.

  • Now let’s calculate the bonus amount using the formula:
    • Apply the formula in the cell E5:
=D5*0.05

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • Press Enter to get the result.
  • Drag down the Fill Handle to apply the formula to all cells in the column.

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • We have our calculated bonus amount in the column.

Issue:

  • Clearing the filter (Clear Filter From ‘Employee) causes the formula not to work for the previously hidden rows.

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • We’ve learned that the fill handle doesn’t function correctly with hidden rows.

Solution:

  • Apply the formula to the entire dataset before filtering.
    • Select a cell (e.g., E5).
    • Enter the formula:
=D5*0.05

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

    • Press Enter.
  • Pull the Fill Handle to populate the formula in all cells.

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • Now filter the dataset by clicking the filter option in the employee column.
  • Uncheck some names and click OK.

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

  • You’ll see hidden rows, but this time the formula will work correctly because we applied it before filtering.

  • Click “Select All” to get all the data in the table.

Clear Filter from Data Table Solve Fill Handle Not Working in Excel

Read More: How to Use Fill Handle in Excel


Things to Remember

  • In Method 4, pressing F4 after selecting cells repeats the last action (e.g., filling data, formatting). However, it doesn’t always solve the Fill Handle issue.

Download Practice Workbook

You can download the practice workbook from here:


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Wasim Akram
Wasim Akram

Wasim Akram holds a BSc degree in Industrial and Production Engineering from Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology. Over the past 2 years, he has been actively contributing to the ExcelDemy project, where he has authored more than 150 articles. Now, he is working as an Excel VBA and Content Developer. He likes learning new things about Microsoft Office, especially Excel VBA, Power Query, Data Analysis, and Excel Statistics. He is also very interested in machine learning and... Read Full Bio

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