Five Easy Ways to Fix Excel Not Highlighting Cells

Spreadsheets are essential tools in the digital office space, allowing for versatile data management and complex calculations. However, users may encounter occasional issues, such as difficulty in selecting cells. This guide provides step-by-step solutions to address this problem.

How to Fix Excel Not Highlighting Cells

  1. Unprotect the Sheet:
    • If you can’t highlight cells, first check if the sheet is protected to prevent accidental changes.
    • Steps:
      • Click on the “Home” menu.
      • In the ribbon, click “Format” and select “Unprotect Sheet.”
      • If there’s a password, enter it.
      • Try selecting cells again.
  2. Ensure “Select Locked Cells” is Checked:
    • To maintain sheet protection while allowing cell selection, adjust settings.
    • Steps:
      • In the “Home” menu, click “Format” and Select “Protect Sheet.”
      • Check the box next to “Select Locked Cells.” Optionally, set a password and click “OK.”
  3. Check if Individual Cells are Locked:
    • Specific cells within a protected sheet may be locked, preventing selection.
    • Steps:
      • Unprotect the worksheet as instructed previously.
      • Right-click on the cell you want to unlock and choose “Format Cells.”
      • In the “Protection” tab, ensure that “Locked” is unchecked and click “OK” to confirm.
  4. Use Extend Selection:
    • This feature can help highlight cells that don’t respond to standard selection.
    • Steps:
      • Press F8 to activate “Extend Selection.”
      • Click a cell; it may or may not highlight initially.
      • Select a different cell, and all cells in between should become selected.
      • Press Escape or F8 again to turn off “Extend Selection.”
  5. Repair Your Excel Document:
    • If the issue persists and seems specific to your document, it might be corrupted.
    • Steps:
      • Save and close the spreadsheet. Open a new spreadsheet and click the “File” menu.
      • Select “Open” from the left-hand menu.
      • Click “Browse” to locate your document.
      • Select the file and click the arrow next to “Open.” Choose “Open and Repair.”
      • Select “Repair.”


Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool, but occasional hiccups can occur. By following these troubleshooting steps, you can address the issue of Excel not highlighting cells effectively. If you encounter any other challenges with Excel, don’t hesitate to seek solutions, as there are often fixes for common problems. Excel’s versatility can be fully harnessed with a bit of technical know-how.

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