I have no earthy idea why it took me so long to figure out how to delete the contents of a cell or range in Excel for Mac. Ever since I bought my MacBook Pro I’ve known the Delete key on a Mac isn’t really a Delete key.
I mean, since my background is with Windows, I have ingrained knowledge on how the Delete Key works on a computer. Ingrained, I tell you.
But all of that knowledge was shattered upon getting a Mac.
After some consternation, I learned that you have to hold down the fn key and the Delete key at the same time when you want to delete something on a Mac. (Skip to video)
After a while, you get used to the idea that the Delete key on a Mac is really a backspace key and using fn+Delete gives you the real Delete key action.
Of course if you’re a long time Mac user you probably think I’m cuckoo. But hey, this is my blog, think what you like. I’m not the only one who’s decided to start using a Mac after a lifetime of Windows
Excel for Mac
Anyway, when using Excel on a Mac — I’ve got versions 2008 and 2011 — you run into a learning curve with all the unusual shortcut keys, function keys (1, 2), and menu and ribbon things that are different from the Windows version of Excel. So there’s a tendency to forget about how the Delete key works on a Mac.
I mean, this is Excel we’re talking about here. Hitting the Delete key is supposed to delete the contents of the active cell, for cryin’ out loud.
In Excel for Mac it does that, but the cursor also gets stuck inside the cell in edit mode. You have to hit the enter key to finish deleting the contents, but this act also moves the active cell to the next cell down.
And if you’ve selected a range and hit the Delete key, the active cell contents are deleted and the cursor is stuck inside the cell in edit mode. You have to hit the Enter key, which does nothing but take you to the next cell. The range contents are still there, with the exception of the active cell.
Not the kind of behavior that occurs in Excel for Windows.
The trick is to remember that fn+Delete is really a keyboard shortcut to the Delete key on a Mac. Then the world rights itself and the planets align. Frustration abates. You’ve finally found the magic. Your mojo is back!
Watch this 54 second video to see what I’ve been babbling about for the past 454 words.