[Fixed!] Selected Cells Not Highlighted in Excel (8 Solutions)

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Some report issues about cells not being highlighted after selection in Excel spreadsheets. This can happen for many different reasons ranging from minor issues like protected sheets to maybe settings in your operating systems. It can happen because sometimes the cells face issues while selecting, and sometimes the selected cells are not displaying correctly because of some issues. This article will focus on all possible fixes for selected cells not getting highlighted in Excel.

Selected Cells Not Highlighted in Excel (8 Possible Solutions)

We will focus on a total of eight possible fixes for the problem of cells not getting highlighted while they are selected in Microsoft Excel. Each one has its own sub-section describing the process. Try each of them out to find the one that works for you.

Solution 1: Unprotect Your Sheet

One of the major reasons the cells are not highlighted while selected in Excel spreadsheets is that the sheets are protected. Depending on how one had protected the spreadsheet, it may be sometimes impossible to select any cell at all.

To find out the protection status of a spreadsheet, go to the spreadsheet. Then go to the Review tab on your ribbon. Under the Protect group, you will find the Protect Sheet/ Unprotect Sheet option.

unprotect sheet to highlight selected cells

If the option is Unprotect Sheet as we can see in the figure, then the spreadsheet is in protected status. Click on it to unprotect and you should be able to select and highlight the cells of your spreadsheet again if this was causing the issue.

If the problem still persists then try out the other solutions.

Solution 2: Don’t Uncheck ‘Select Locked Cells’ Option

Sometimes a user can prevent other users from selecting locked cells. This may end up causing selected Excel cells not to get highlighted for users on the other end. This will happen when someone unchecks the option to select locked cells while protecting the sheet. If you do that and protect the sheet, you won’t be able to highlight or select the cells of that spreadsheet.

Follow these steps to protect the sheet while preventing the problem.


  • First of all, go to the Review tab on your ribbon.
  • Then select Protect Sheet from the Protect group.

  • After that, make sure to check the Select locked cells option under the Allow all users of this worksheet to section.

selected cells not highlighted in excel

  • Finally, click on OK.

Henceforth, you should be able to select and highlight cells in that spreadsheet.

Read More: Select All Cells with Data in Excel 

Solution 3: Unlock Cells from Format Cells Dialog Box

Another cause for this problem is the locked cells option in the formatting option of the cell/ range of cells. Try disabling it from the range. This may sometimes clear the problem and the cells get highlighted again if selected in the Excel spreadsheet.

Follow these steps to do that.


  • First of all, select the cell/ range of cells that are not getting highlighted while selected in the Excel spreadsheet. (If you are in doubt, select the whole spreadsheet.)
  • Then press Ctrl+1 on your keyboard to open the Format Cells
  • Now go to the Protection tab of the box and uncheck the Locked

unchecking locked option to highlight selected cells

  • After that, click on OK.
  • Now go back to the Review tab to select Protect Sheet from the Protect group.

protecting excel sheets

  • Then you can uncheck the Select locked cells option under the Allow all users of this worksheet to

  • Finally, click on OK.

This will now enable the selected cells to be highlighted again in protected Excel spreadsheets.

Read More: Select All Cells with Data in a Column in Excel 

Solution 4: Check Issues with Add-ins

Excel add-ins are wonderful additions to Microsoft Excel that help us to interact with Excel objects, extend functionality, add custom functions, and many more. In general, this helps with making the experience easier for us. But in some cases, this may be counterproductive.

Follow these steps to disable the add-ins.


  • First of all, you need to run Excel in safe mode. To do that, open the Run dialog box, and press the Win+R key on your keyboard.
  • Then write Excel /safe in the field and click on OK.

running excel in safe mode

  • The Excel will now open up in safe mode. Now go to the File tab on your ribbon.
  • Then select Options from the left side of the backstage view.

  • After that, select the Add-ins tab in the Excel Options.
  • Then on the right side, select the COM Add-ins option beside the Manage box and click on Go.

  • Next, uncheck all of the add-ins in the COM Add-ins box and click on OK.

removing add-ins to highlight selected cells

This should resolve your problem if any of the add-ins were causing the issue.

Read More: How to Select Cells with Certain Value in Excel

Solution 5: Make Your Excel Folder Blank from C Drive

Sometimes some junk files may cause some errors in Excel’s functionalities which may end up not highlighting selected cells in Excel. If that is the case for you, try clearing up these files and then selecting the ranges again to check the difference.

To do that, go into C:\Users\User_Name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel (Replace User_Name with your user name) with the file explorer and see if there are any new files there. Back up those files someplace else and delete them from this location.

Now try running Excel again to see if your problem is still there or not. If the process doesn’t resolve it, try other solutions.

Solution 6: Repair Microsoft Office

If your problem still persists after trying all of these solutions, then try repairing the Microsoft Office to see if that makes any difference. Follow these steps to repair Microsoft Office in Windows.


  • First of all, go to Settings by clicking on the Windows icon on the bottom-left of your screen.
  • Then select Apps.

  • After that, select Apps & Features from the left side of the window.

  • Now scroll down on the left and find Microsoft 365 or the one you are using.
  • Then select Modify under it.

repairing microsoft 365

  • Now select Quick Repair or Online Repair depending on the one you prefer.
  • Finally, click on Repair.

repairing office to highlight selected cells

This will repair Microsoft Office applications. If some undetectable changes were causing the problem, it may resolve the issue in some cases.

Solution 7: Restart Your PC

If none of the solutions above worked for you, try the good old-fashioned restart of your system. Restarting the system wipes away the current state of the software. If any bugs or codes cause such problems restarting wipes them away and the OS comes to start everything from scratch. So it may remove some issues like some runtime errors or other forms of background apps that were causing the problem.


These were all the possible fixes if your selected cells are not getting highlighted in Excel. Hopefully, one of the above solutions worked out for you. I hope you found this guide helpful and informative. If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments below.

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Abrar-ur-Rahman Niloy
Abrar-ur-Rahman Niloy

Abrar-ur-Rahman Niloy, holding a B.Sc. in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, has contributed to Exceldemy for nearly 1.5 years. As a leader in Excel, VBA, and Content Development teams, he authored 114+ articles and assisted the Exceldemy forum. Presently, as a project writer, he prioritizes stepping out of his comfort zone, aiming for constant technical improvement. Niloy's interests encompass Excel & VBA, Pivot Table, Power Query, Python, Data Analysis, and Machine Learning libraries, showcasing his commitment to diverse... Read Full Bio

1 Comment
  1. it was as simple as the sclk (screen lock) was on.

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