How to deselect cells from selected ranges in Excel

We are excited to announce that Excel now lets you deselect cells or a range from your current selection. This was one of the top request we got from our community and we are happy to announce we have rolled it out for PC and Mac subscription users of Office 365.  


How to unselect a cell from a selection

To unselect a selected cell hold down the CTRL (or Command on mac) key and click on the cells you want to deselect. To unselect a range of selected cells hold down the CTRL (or Command for Mac) key and drag the range you want to deselect, starting from within a selected range.


Smile3.gifDeselect a selected cell in Excel

How to multi select cells or ranges

This has not changed, you can still use the CTRL (or Command on Mac) key to click on an unselected cell to select it. To select an additional range simple use the CTRL (or Command on mac), starting on a unselected cells and drag the mouse to select the range.


select.gifSelect multiple cells or ranges in Excel


Occasional Visitor

What about Office 2016? Will it have this?


These updates are available as part of an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, find out how to get these latest updates.

Occasional Visitor

Hello @Olaf Hubel,


Serious question, how'd you guys **bleep** this up? I cannot select ranges within my original selection as subgroups without **bleep**ing everything up. You took a community request to deselect cells and **bleep**ed up the already working multi-select.


Here is what happens when I use your new multi-select function as it is changed because of how you chose to implement your "deselect"




Hi @Phillip Perin,

Can you give me some more background why you wanted to select a range within a range. I understand what you expected to happen based on your image. But like to learn more about what you where trying to do. 




Frequent Visitor

Dear Mr. Hubel,

It will be appriciated if you let me know that is there any plan to update this feature (deselect) to Excel 2013.


Hi, @JC Kim, sorry this is a 2016 subscription or later feature. 


These updates are available as part of an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, find out how to get these latest updates.


Occasional Visitor

@Olaf Hubel We all know they're available for Office 365, dumbass! You don't have to repeat that every single time.

Occasional Visitor

@Olaf Hubel


Basically anything, the current unselect changes how the entire re-select works. But specifically when I am highlighting cells to apply borders to them - just as is seen in the image set I provided.

Frequent Visitor

Dear Mr. Hubel,

I'm using Office 2016 ver 1801 build 9001.2138 and updated everything (I think)

And still cannot use deselect. Is there anything to join?


@Phillip Perin Yes when making multi range selections to quickly set borders, you now need to do those as separate steps. In your image this would mean a extra click. We tried to avoid impacts like this as much as we would but in some edge cases you might need to make extra clicks. 


@JC Kim I am not 100% sure why it is not showing for you yet, based on the build number it should, unless your an enterprise release channel. We roll this out in stages and this might take some time. Make sure that your version says "Office 365 Pro Plus" and not just "Office ProPlus". If all is good it should not take to long before it will start working. Nothing you will need to do from your side. 


Naturally you can always join insiders to get features even sooner, but in this case that is not needed as we have rolled out to production. 




Occasional Contributor

Should this be available in Excel on line at this time for Enterprise tenants?  I tried to deselect a few cells but it did not work for me.


Hi @Charles Shaw,


No not yet.


It is on the backlog

Occasional Visitor

@Olaf Hubel,


I like the functionality, have been waiting for this for (literally) decades.

I do have a question though: Prior to this change, selecting / clicking the same cell multiple times made the background color of that cell keep getting darker, which I got used to during this last decades, for instance to quickly count occurrences of values. Is there any way to use this multiple-select-of-a-cell-makes-the-background-darker functionality as well?


Kind regards,



Hi @Arnoud van Bokkem

Sorry we did not add a second shortcut to be able to double select single cells. 

Occasional Visitor



I am sad to hear that the possibillity of double selecting cels has dissapeared.

I often use that for calculating Sums or Averages in Situations as you see below.

I first select the cels B2:E6, F2:I6, B7:E11, F7:I11 and then over that selection I select B2:J12.

Then I use the Sum (or Average) button and in all the empty cells the Sum Or Average is calculate in the correct way.

This is now impossible. Now I have to do this in steps, as the latest selection B2:J12 deselects the previous selections.

It would be great if it would stil be possible to double select cells.

I must say that in certain situations the new way is handy. But I really miss the old possibillity certainly in sheets that are bigger than this example.


 JanuariFebruariMaartKwartaal 1AprilMeiJuniKwartaal 2Totaal
Marieke100 010  
Chris023 006  
Lucas222 001  
Kathy000 000  
Afdeling 1    017  
Rick020 102  
Joost000 000  
Fred100 110  
Paula000 210  
Afdeling 2120 422  



You should still be able to do, if you start you selection J12 vs starting at B2. It will only deselect if you start from within a selection. If you start from outside a selection it will simply add.
Occasional Visitor

By dragging selected set of rows and tried to deselect certain rows by holding control key and finally tried to delete rest of set of rows, but we are getting error message like " cannot use that command on over lapping selections". Pls provide solutionError1.pngError2.png


We have discovered a possible issue with the deselection feature effecting only a small number of our users. We are preemptively turning the feature off till we have a fix. We will turn the feature back on in the coming weeks, once fixed.

Occasional Visitor

My company is an Office 365 Business subscriber.  On my Windows and Apple machines the deselect feature does not work.  Holding Ctrl or CMD (Mac) and clicking on a selected cell does not deselect it.  It makes it a shade darker each time.  I have uninstalled and re-installed the software and it is the same issue.  I have checked for updates and all software is up to date.  What is going on?  My version on my Mac is 16.14.1 (180613) and on my Windows 10 machine is  Version 1805 (Build 9330.2124).  This is very frustrating.


See my last post

Occasional Visitor



i am not able to deselect certain cells in excel.

i used to do this by holding down the control button and right click the cells that i want to deselect.


Now, when i do this, the cells are getting darker and darker.


I need to deselect certain cells in a selected cells range.

Hi Hussein,


It looks like a bug. Deselection

- doesn't work on the build 1806.10228.20062

- no problems on 1807.10308.20006


Same is here https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Excel/Unable-to-deselect-in-excel/m-p/204940/highlight/false#...

Hi Olaf, Please post on this thread when the fix is released...! Missing the deselecting feature is really frustrating, so please PUSH your developer-team! Thanks.
Occasional Visitor

Hello, is this feature still turned off?

I have Office 365 ProPlus version 1712 build 8827.2179 and I cannot access this feature. CTRL+ Click still just makes the cells darker.


Hi @Toya Marrow

There should be updates available for you. The Feb build (16.0.9126.2237) and later will all have this feature again. 


Either your IT department has you on the extended delayed rollout (this means everything will come in very late) or you have not updated office in some time. Click on File and then Account. You should see an Update Options button. This will show you if you have the latest version available to you. All rings but extended delayed have gotten the update by now. 




Regular Visitor

My question is almost answered her but not fully.  If I select a large number of cells, for, to make it easy, adding them together, I used to be able to click again on a cell if I had selected it by mistake, and it cleared.  That no longer seems to work.  I'm sure there is a simple way to restore that functionality, but I'm not good enough at Excel to be able to do it!

Occasional Visitor

Oh wow, they put an essential feature back in.  Such heroes!  Microsoft’s website literally just says they removed the deselect feature in 2013 for “Graphics Enhancement” or some bull**bleep** like that.

They don’t explain why you would ever want to have multiple “selections” within one selection.  I've concluded that's because it does nothing.

Because there is no practical reason for ever wanting to select “overlapping cells” with CTRL (you can only take ONE action at a time against a selection, such as copy>paste or changing font color, etc.) the only reason for removing this essential feature is to entice users with older software versions to pay money and upgrade their license. It’s deliberate sabotage of a previously great set of software.

The plot twist to any of those asking how they F*ed this up, is that it was a completely deliberate internal decision.  Just take a look at Microsoft.com's official help page regarding this issue, completely and utterly useless, doesn't describe any new feature or benefit, other than the cell fill color changing.  https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/2769340/cell-shading-continually-darkens-when-you-hold-down...

To restore essential features which were removed meaninglessly, you must pay! It is absolutely infuriating, and they aren’t fooling anyone. Those **bleep**ing assholes at Microsoft should be gutted like hogs and left to rot.