Excel Shortcut to Delete Column: How to Remove a Column Quickly and Easily


In today's fast-paced work environment, efficiency is key. Knowing Excel shortcuts can save you valuable time and make you more productive. One essential skill is learning how to delete a column quickly and easily using a shortcut. In this blog post, we will guide you through the steps to perform this task effortlessly.

Key Takeaways

  • Knowing Excel shortcuts can greatly increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
  • Deleting a column quickly and easily using a shortcut (Ctrl + Minus (-) key) is an essential skill.
  • Excel shortcuts provide simplified data management and a streamlined workflow.
  • Make sure to select the correct column and confirm the deletion to avoid any accidental mistakes.
  • Consider securing a backup before executing deletions and adjusting column width after deletion for better data organization.

Benefits of Using Excel Shortcuts

Using shortcuts in Excel can help you save time and increase your efficiency when working with spreadsheets. By learning and utilizing the various shortcut commands, you can perform tasks quickly and easily, ultimately enhancing your productivity. In addition to time savings, here are some key benefits of using Excel shortcuts:

Increased efficiency and productivity

One of the primary benefits of using Excel shortcuts is the significant increase in efficiency and productivity. By using keyboard shortcuts instead of clicking through menus or using the mouse, you can perform tasks much faster. This allows you to complete your work more quickly and move on to other important tasks.

Simplified data management

Excel shortcuts can simplify the process of managing data in your spreadsheets. For example, you can use shortcuts to quickly insert or delete columns, rows, or cells, making it easier to organize and manipulate your data. These shortcuts eliminate the need to navigate through multiple menus, saving you time and making data management more seamless.

Streamlined workflow

By using Excel shortcuts, you can streamline your workflow and make it more fluid. Instead of interrupting your workflow to search for specific commands or functions, you can simply use the appropriate shortcut keys. This allows you to maintain focus and momentum, resulting in a smoother and more efficient work process.

Understanding the Shortcut to Delete a Column

Excel is a powerful tool that provides various shortcuts to help users perform tasks quickly and efficiently. One such shortcut is the combination of Ctrl + Minus (-) key, which allows users to swiftly remove a selected column. This shortcut is a time-saving technique that can significantly enhance productivity when working with large datasets. In this chapter, we will explore the functionality of this shortcut, its compatibility across different versions of Excel, and how to utilize it effectively.

Shortcut combination: Ctrl + Minus (-) key

The shortcut to delete a column in Excel involves pressing the Ctrl key along with the minus (-) key on the keyboard. To use this shortcut, first, select the entire column you wish to remove. You can do this by clicking on the column header. Once the column is selected, press the Ctrl key and then press the minus (-) key simultaneously.

This combination of keys triggers the deletion process and removes the selected column instantly. No further confirmation or prompts are required, making it a convenient and straightforward method to delete columns in Excel.

Functionality of the shortcut: removing a selected column

The Ctrl + Minus (-) key shortcut serves the purpose of removing the selected column from the Excel spreadsheet. Whether you want to eliminate a single column or multiple columns, this shortcut proves to be equally effective. By selecting the column(s) and using this shortcut, users can quickly eliminate unwanted or redundant data, reorganize their spreadsheet, or make space for new information.

Furthermore, this shortcut allows users to delete columns without disturbing the formatting, formulas, or any other data within the spreadsheet. It solely focuses on removing the selected column, ensuring that the integrity and structure of the remaining data remain intact.

Compatibility across different versions of Excel

Excel shortcuts are designed to enhance the user experience and are typically consistent across different versions of the software. The Ctrl + Minus (-) key shortcut for deleting a column is widely supported and compatible across various versions of Excel, including Excel 2007, Excel 2010, Excel 2013, Excel 2016, Excel 2019, and Excel for Microsoft 365.

Regardless of the version you are using, this shortcut remains a reliable and efficient method to remove columns quickly and easily. It is always recommended to refer to the official documentation or keyboard shortcut list for specific versions of Excel to ensure compatibility and to explore additional shortcuts that may be available.

Step-by-Step Guide: Using the Shortcut to Remove a Column

Excel offers a range of powerful shortcuts to help users streamline their workflow and save time. One such shortcut is the ability to quickly and easily delete a column. Whether you need to remove a column to reorganize your data or get rid of unnecessary information, this guide will walk you through the process in a few simple steps.

Selecting the column to be deleted

The first step in using the shortcut to delete a column is to select the column you want to remove. Follow these instructions:

  • Open the Excel spreadsheet that contains the column you wish to delete.
  • Navigate to the top of the column, and click on the letter at the top of the column (e.g., "A" for the first column).
  • The entire column will be highlighted to indicate that it has been selected.

Activating the shortcut

Once you have selected the column to be deleted, you can activate the shortcut to remove it. Here's how:

  • Press and hold the Ctrl key on your keyboard.
  • While holding down the Ctrl key, press the - key on your keyboard.
  • The selected column will be instantly deleted from the spreadsheet.

Confirming the deletion

After activating the shortcut, it's always a good idea to confirm that the deletion was successful. You can do this by checking the spreadsheet for any changes. If the column has been completely removed, then the deletion was successful. If the column is still present, you may need to repeat the process.

Alternative shortcut methods for specific Excel versions

While the aforementioned method works for most versions of Excel, there may be alternative shortcuts available for specific versions. Here are a few examples:

  • Excel 2010 and later: In addition to the Ctrl + - shortcut, you can also use the Ctrl + Shift + - shortcut to remove a column.
  • Excel 2007: Instead of using the Ctrl + - shortcut, you can use the Alt + E + A + D shortcut to delete a column.
  • Excel 2003 and earlier: For older versions of Excel, you can use the Ctrl + - shortcut or the Alt + E + D shortcut to remove a column.

By familiarizing yourself with these alternative shortcuts, you can choose the method that works best for your specific Excel version and personal preferences.

Now that you know how to remove a column quickly and easily using Excel shortcuts, you can streamline your data management tasks and improve your productivity. Give it a try and see how much time you can save!

Additional Tips for Deleting Columns

Although the Excel shortcut to delete a column offers a quick and easy solution for removing unwanted data, there are a few additional tips that can enhance your efficiency and ensure the accuracy of your work. Consider the following tips:

Consideration for deleting multiple columns at once

When working with a large dataset, deleting columns one by one can be time-consuming. Excel provides a handy feature that allows you to delete multiple columns at once. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Select the first column you want to delete by clicking on the column header.
  • Hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard while selecting the other columns you wish to delete.
  • Right-click on any of the selected column headers and choose "Delete" from the context menu.
  • Confirm the deletion by clicking "OK" in the pop-up window.

This method allows you to delete multiple columns simultaneously, saving you valuable time and effort in managing your data.

Securing a backup before executing deletions

While Excel is designed to be user-friendly and intuitive, accidents can still happen. It's always a good practice to create a backup of your workbook before executing any deletions, especially if you're working with important or sensitive data.

To create a backup:

  • Click on the "File" tab in the Excel ribbon.
  • Select "Save As" from the options.
  • Choose a location on your computer or cloud storage to save the backup file.
  • Give the backup file a unique name to differentiate it from the original file.
  • Click "Save" to create the backup.

By creating a backup, you can rest assured that your original data is safe, even if any unexpected issues arise during the deletion process.

Adjusting column width after deletion

When you delete a column in Excel, the adjacent columns automatically adjust their width to fill the empty space. However, this automatic adjustment may not always result in the desired column width. To manually adjust the column width after deletion:

  • Select the column header of the column adjacent to the deleted column.
  • Move your cursor to the right border of the selected column header until it transforms into a double-headed arrow.
  • Click and drag the border to the left or right to adjust the column width.
  • Release the mouse button when you have reached the desired width.

By manually adjusting the column width, you can ensure that your data is presented neatly and clearly, enhancing the visual appeal and readability of your Excel worksheet.

Common Issues and Troubleshooting

Even the most experienced Excel users can encounter issues when using shortcuts to delete columns. Here are some common problems that may arise and how you can troubleshoot them:

Accidentally Deleting Wrong Columns

One of the most common issues when using shortcuts to delete columns is accidentally deleting the wrong ones. This can happen when you have multiple columns selected or when you mistakenly press the wrong keys. To prevent this from happening, follow these steps:

  • Double-check your selection: Before executing the shortcut, make sure that you have selected the correct columns. Take a moment to review your selection and ensure that you are deleting the intended columns.
  • Use the Undo function: If you accidentally delete the wrong columns, don't panic. Excel has an Undo function that allows you to quickly revert any changes. Simply press Ctrl+Z or click on the Undo button in the toolbar to restore the deleted columns.

Recovering Mistakenly Deleted Columns

If you realize that you have mistakenly deleted columns that you didn't intend to, there are several ways to recover them:

  • Use the Undo function: As mentioned earlier, the Undo function is a lifesaver in such situations. Press Ctrl+Z or click on the Undo button to bring back the deleted columns.
  • Retrieve from the Recycle Bin: Deleted columns are typically moved to the Recycle Bin or Trash folder in Excel. To recover them, open the Recycle Bin, locate the deleted columns, right-click on them, and select the "Restore" option.
  • Restore from previous versions: If you have enabled the AutoSave or AutoRecover feature in Excel, you may be able to restore the deleted columns from previous versions of the workbook. Go to the File tab, select "Info," and click on "Version History" or "Manage Versions" to access and restore the desired version of the workbook.

Problematic Shortcut Execution

In some cases, you may encounter issues while executing the shortcut to delete columns. Here are a few possible reasons and their solutions:

  • Conflicting shortcuts: If the shortcut you are trying to use is conflicting with another shortcut or function in Excel, it may not work as expected. To resolve this, you can customize the Excel shortcuts or try using a different shortcut for deleting columns.
  • Keyboard issues: Sometimes, keyboard-related issues can interfere with shortcut execution. Ensure that your keyboard is functioning properly and there are no stuck keys. You can also try restarting your computer to resolve any temporary glitches.
  • Incorrect shortcut sequence: It is crucial to press the correct sequence of keys for the shortcut to work. Double-check the shortcut combination specified in the guide or Excel's official documentation. If necessary, try executing the shortcut more slowly or with deliberate keystrokes.

By addressing these common issues and troubleshooting them effectively, you can save time and prevent any potential frustration when using shortcuts to delete columns in Excel.


In conclusion, Excel shortcuts can greatly enhance your productivity and efficiency when working with the program. By learning and utilizing shortcuts, such as the delete column shortcut, you can quickly and easily manipulate data in your spreadsheets. The time-saving potential of mastering these shortcuts cannot be overstated, as it allows you to complete tasks in a fraction of the time compared to using manual methods. We encourage you to continue practicing and exploring more shortcuts to further improve your Excel skills and increase your productivity.

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