Ctrl+F6 mystery revealed in Excel
The Ctrl+F6 shortcut in Excel doesn’t behave the same way as Word or PowerPoint. It changed a few years ago to behave differently from what most Office users expect.
Ctrl + F6 will switch (cycle through) the open windows in Word or PowerPoint. It’s a quick way to move between different documents/slides. Since Windows doesn’t have a global shortcut to cycle through open windows of an app, it’s a useful shortcut to remember.
Excel is different with Ctrl + F6
Ctrl + F6 behaved the same as Word and PowerPoint until, and including, Excel 2016 for Windows.
Each time Ctrl + F6, Excel would switch to another open workbook.
In Excel 365, Excel 2019 and Excel 2021, Ctrl+F6 behaves a little different.
Ctrl + F6 only switches between TWO most recently used and open Excel windows.
Switching between ALL open windows moved to Ctrl + Shift + F6
Why change for Excel only and break compatibility with other Office apps? Who knows! We always laugh when Microsoft talks about consistency across the Office apps, because we remember the times when they deliberately break it.
Excel F6 shortcuts – Excel 365, Excel 2019/2021/LTSC
Here’s all the F6 shortcuts in modern Excel for Windows.
F6 switches focus within the current worksheet i.e the sheet, tabs, bottom/status bar and ribbon* In a split worksheet F6 also moves between the panes.
Shift+F6: same as F6 but in the reverse order: sheet, ribbon, bottom/status bar and tabs*
* That’s how it works in our Excel 365. According to Microsoft, F6 moves between “worksheet, ribbon, task pane, and Zoom controls”.
Ctrl + F6 only switches between TWO open Excel windows.
Ctrl + Shift + F6 switching around ALL open windows.
Excel F6 shortcuts – Excel 2016, Excel 2013 and previous
Here’s all the F6 shortcuts in older Excel for Windows.
F6 switches focus within the current worksheet i.e the sheet, tabs, bottom/status bar and ribbon. In a split worksheet F6 also moves between the panes.
Shift + F6 same as F6 but in the reverse order: sheet, ribbon, bottom/status bar and tabs.
Ctrl + F6 switches between ALL open Excel windows
Ctrl + Shift + F6 same as Ctrl+F6 but in reverse order.
Note: we tested Excel 2016 and Excel 2013 for Windows. They should work the same for older Excels.
How to quickly switch between Word and Office windows