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Select Slicer With Keyboard

August 23, 2018 - by Bill Jelen

Select Slicer With Keyboard

How can you select an Excel slicer using the keyboard? Yesterday, I covered the Excel F6 Loop, but that won't let you select a slicer. Is there a way using only the keyboard to select and interact with Slicers in Excel?

The entry point is to use typical Excel keyboard shortcuts to navigate to Home, Find & Select, Select Object. Press and release Alt, then H, then F D, then the letter O.

At this point, the only noticeable change will be that the mouse cursor changes to a white pointer instead of the usual white plus sign.

Press the Tab key to select the first object. Tab is going to shuffle between all of the objects on the sheet, in the order that they were created. In the video below, I had created a Product slicer, added a shape, added an Icon, then added a Region slicer. Those objects will get selected in that order.

Once you select the first slicer, you can't interact with it yet. Any arrow keys will be used to re-position the slicer.

Press the Tab key again to move to the Multi-Select icon. Pressing Enter or Spacebar will toggle the Multi-select icon.

The third Tab should land you on the Multi-Select icon at the top of the slicer
The third Tab should land you on the Multi-Select icon at the top of the slicer

Pressing Tab from the Multi-Select icon might take you to the Clear Filter icon. But since the filter is already cleared, pressing Tab moves focus to the slicer tiles.

Tab again to move to a slicer tile
Tab again to move to a slicer tile

Note that you will not always start with the first slicer tile (Apple in the image above). The slicer remembers your last position within the slicer and will start near the last slicer you touched.

Say that you want to unselect Cherry. Press the Down Arrow to move to Banana. Press the Down Arrow again to move to Cherry. Press Enter to unselect Cherry. This only works because the Multi-Select is on.

Pressing Enter on Cherry will remove it from the Filter when you have Multi-Select turned on.
Pressing Enter on Cherry will remove it from the Filter when you have Multi-Select turned on.

Let's contrast this behavior with Multi-Select Off.

You can do this with the keyboard. Press Shift + Tab to move to Clear Filter. Press Enter to clear the filter. Press Shift + Tab to move to the Multi-Select. Press Enter to toggle Multi-Select to be off.

Press Tab to move back into the slicer tiles. All three tiles are enabled. Use the arrow to move to Banana. Press Enter. Banana is selected and the other two tiles are turned off.

Choosing a tile with Multi-Select off chooses only that tile and turns the others off.
Choosing a tile with Multi-Select off chooses only that tile and turns the others off.

Consider this larger figure. If you have to move from the Product slicer to the Region slicer: when you press Tab from the tiles area, you will jump to the next object in the sheet. The collection of objects seems to remember the order they were created, so the first tab goes to the triangle, then to the running guy icon, then to the Region slicer.

Pressing Tab moves to the objects in the order created
Pressing Tab moves to the objects in the order created

Remember that once you arrive at the Region slicer, any arrow keys will move the entire slicer. You need to press Tab again to jump into the slicer.

To exit Select Objects mode and return to the worksheet grid, press Esc.

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Video Transcript

Learn Excel for MrExcel Podcast, Episode 2231, Select the Slicer with the Keyboard.

If you like what you see in this video, please subscribe and ring that bell.

Alright, so, yesterday, how to select the sheet tabs with a keyboard; today, how to select that freaking slicer. It's not easy to do.

What you know is we have a slicer here, I'm going to show you how this works, and I want to add a Shape-- it's just a triangle-- and then I will add another Shape or an Illustration or something. Cool, great. And then, finally, come back into the PivotTable, Analyze, Insert Slicer, and a Slicer for Region, alright? So generally, what we have here, is we have the Product slicer, the triangle, the icon, and then the Region slicer, and without using the mouse-- the mouse is broken, whatever-- I need to get to the Slicer. Now, it's really, really funny that I inadvertently did this yesterday-- and it really annoyed me when I did it-- by going to Alt, and then R for review, and then A1 for check accessibility. And it nagged me yesterday that the Region Slicer did not have Alt Text. Right? So you could use the F6 loop like we did yesterday, but let's ignore that, right? Let's say that you have Alt Text on the slicer and that's just not going to work. So we're sitting here in the Pivot Table and [Inaudible at 00:01:44] house again, no mouse, and how do we get to the Slicer?

So here's what you have to do: Alt-- press and release Alt, H for home, and then on the far right hand side, find and select FD, and then O for objects. Alright, now something happened but I don't know what. I'm going to tab, and when I press Tab, I have put the focus on the Product slicer, but it's not what I want because when I arrow, I'm actually moving the slicer. No good. But check this out-- Tab again, and I'm now on the multi-select. Alright, so you can see the controls now pass to the multi-select, press Tab again, and I move down to Apple, and I'll choose Apple. Arrow down, choose Banana; arrow down, choose Cherry. But, no, I really wanted to multi-select, so it's Shift+Tab, to back to clear filter, Shift+Tab again to the multi-select, now multi-select a selected tab to filter tab into the the tiles. I'll press ENTER on Apple. So now I have Apple and Cherry. Alright. Now, I want to get to the Region slicer, so from the tiles, the next tab that I press is going to select the next object that I created-- the triangle. Tab again and I should be on the icon. Bingo! Tab again, and I'm that horrible state of Region where arrows are just going to move it, but then Tab again and now I'm on that multi-select, and down into the items.

Let me go back. I want to Shift+tab, Shift+Tab, turn on the multi-select, clear the filter, and I should be-- yep, West, East, Central, alright so they're great out here because of the previous choices. But you get the general idea. And then from here, Tab one more time and we go back to the Product slicer. And, again, at this point, the arrows don't do anything. I have to Tab in-- alright-- now I'm on the multi-select, now I'm on the clear, press ENTER, and now I'm into the grid. Alright, so it's doable-- it's doable. Alt H, F, D, O, for objects, and you can tab between all of these. Yeah, that's three days in a row with weird, pick-you and stuff, that most people will never have to deal with, but they don't call me the Cliff Clavin of Excel for nothing.

That stuff, everything, in the book, Microsoft Excel 2019 Inside Out. Click that "I" on the top right hand corner.

Wrap-up for today: How to move focus to a slicer using only the keyboard-- Alt, H, F, D, O, Tab,Tab, Tab, and you should be in.

Thanks for stopping by, I'll see you next time for another netcast from MrExcel.

Download Excel File

To download the excel file: select-slicer-with-keyboard.xlsx


It is not shown in the video, but the speech associated with Windows Narrator has improved when you use Slicers. Previously, narrator would announce "Slicer Tile, Slicer Tile, Slicer Tile" as you moved through the slicer with the keyboard. Now, Narrator will say "Slicer tile 1 of 8 - Apple". This is part of Microsoft's focus on accessibility in Excel.

Excel Thought Of the Day

I've asked my Excel Master friends for their advice about Excel. Today's thought to ponder:

"You can lead a manager to data, but you can’t make him think"

Title Photo: Kabir Kotwal on Unsplash

Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
Microsoft Excel 2019 Inside Out

Dive into Microsoft Excel 2019–and really put your spreadsheet expertise to work. This supremely organized reference packs hundreds of timesaving solutions, tips, and workarounds–all you need to make the most of Excel’s most powerful tools for analyzing data and making better decisions.