What is Active Cell in Excel – How to Identify an Active Cell

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For beginners, it would sometimes be confusing to understand the terminologies used in Excel. An Active Cell by appearance is not a tricky phrase; however, it can be confusing at times. An active cell, often known as a current cell, cell pointer, or selected cell that appears as a rectangular box that displays the cell in a sheet.

With an active cell, you can find on which cell you are working and what data is entered. A cell in the sheet can carry multiple kinds of data along with formulas or different data formatting that helps in automatic analysis. With data formatting, you can tell an active cell what kind of data you can choose such as fractions, currency, percentages, and dates.

How to Find an Active Cell in a Selection?

It does not matter how many cells you have selected, there would be just one active cell on the sheet. You can find an active cell in two different ways:

Visual Identifier of Active Cell

While selecting a range of cells, you will see one cell is different in color than others. For instance, here you can see A1:D10 cells are selected and other cells are presented in a dark grey color, cell A1 is in a light shade color.

how to identify an active cell

It clearly shows that this is an active cell that appears with a different color. For more understanding, start typing anything and it will appear in the active cell.

Where is the Content of the Active Cell?

Do you know where the formula bar is on the screen?

The content of an active cell generally appears in the formula bar. Here in this example, the formula bar has a formula in cell D8. In the formula, “=SUM(D2:D5)”, you can add the values of cell D2 to D5 in order to calculate the total value, which is $162.00.

The cell and formula bar displays the formula when you choose D8.

How to Change the Active Cell with Shortcut?

With a mouse or keyboard, you can move around the sheet quickly to change the active cell. If you need to quickly reach another cell, place your cursor on that cell directly:

  • In the Name Box, put the cell reference of the targeted cell.
  • For instance, suppose you need to be in cell Z100, simply type Z100 in the Name Box and press ENTER.
  • You would instantly go to that cell within microseconds.

shortcut to change the active cell


So, now you have come to know what is an active cell in Excel and how you can change it quickly. Hopefully, the above-mentioned information is useful to you and helps you find an answer to your query. A combination of cells mutually makes rows and columns that ultimately become an Excel Spreadsheet.

The basis of an Excel sheet starts from a cell, that’s why you need to understand it thoroughly.

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