Why is Ctrl + F Not Working in Excel: The Remedies Explained

Excel spreadsheets can contain a baffling amount of data. Suppose, within the massive amount of information, you want to find something minimal. It could be someone’s name or a set of digits. That’s exactly where the Ctrl + F feature comes to the rescue.

And yes, it can be a real bummer if it doesn’t work, or function properly. This issue alone can make your work a lot tougher than usual. Don’t fret. In this article, we’re going to cover all there is to know about the issue.

So, if you’re still asking, why is Ctrl + F not working, you’ve come to the right place. I’d suggest you read every bit carefully as it’ll give you a complete idea about the topic in general.

Let’s dig in!

What is the Ctrl + F Shortcut?

While looking for a particular string or text in a worksheet, all you have to generally do is, press Ctrl + F. This brings up the find and replace dialogue box. Here, you can search for literally anything. Even more so, you can use this dialogue box to replace some data in the sheet (as the name suggests).

How to Fix Ctrl + F Not Working in Excel

Well, there can be several issues you’re facing which you’re unaware of. Let’s discuss solutions based on the problems at hand.

Make Sure to Set the Search Value to Look into Values

Sometimes the search value is put to formulas. That’s why the Ctrl + F doesn’t work in excel quite often. Let’s talk about how to fix it.

1. The first thing you’ll want to do is, press Ctrl + F on your keyboard.

2. This will bring up the Find and Replace dialogue box.

3. After this, you’ll have to enter the data you want to look for in the Find What section.

4. Now, select Options and choose “Values” from the “Look in” dropdown menu.

Search Value to Look into Values

5. Then just select the Find Next button.

6. Once you’ve done that, you should have successfully found the data you were looking for.

Make Sure Multiple Cells are not Selected

Hey, it happens. You might have a couple of cells selected in Excel and find that the Ctrl + F search option isn’t working right. Let’s discuss how to fix that.

  • When you select a couple of cells and search with Ctrl + F, Excel will search within the selected cells only.
  • Just click on an empty cell to deselect the preselected cells.
  • Now try searching again. It should work just fine.

Deselect “Match Entire Cell Contents” Option

This one is really easy. I mean, unchecking an option can’t be all that hard, right? Let’s discuss the steps.

1. You have to press Ctrl + F to bring up the search and replace dialogue box.

2. Type in the data you want to find in the “Find What” section.

3. Uncheck the “Match entire cell contents” option.

Deselect “Match Entire Cell Contents” Option

4. Click on, Find Next. That should do the trick just fine.

How it Works

Well, when “Match entire cell contents” is selected, you can’t search for an individual portion of the data in a cell. Unless you type in the whole string of data that’s in the cell.

Match entire cell contents

Suppose, if I type in “Alex” only while “Match entire cell contents” is checked, it’ll result in the following error.

Match entire cell contents 2

Just uncheck the box and the results should turn out just fine.

Removing Extra Spaces in “Find What” Box

Sometimes removing extra spaces in the “Find What” section that appears in the Find and Replace dialogue box can fix the issue. Suppose, between Alex Jefferson, if you put two spaces “  “ instead of one “ “, the search option might not work properly and result in the error below.

Removing Extra Spaces in “Find What” Box

Unprotect the Excel Sheet

Sometimes we’re unable to make changes to a sheet due to password protection. If the sheet is protected, follow the steps below to unprotect it.

  • Firstly, you have to go to the home tab and select format “Format” under the cells group.
  • Within the dropdown menu, if the sheet is protected, you’ll find the “Unprotect Sheet” option.
  • Click on that, enter the password.
  • And voila! The Ctrl + F search option should be working again just fine.


Well, I believe we’ve covered all the reasons why Ctrl + F might not be working on Excel. If you’ve tried each solution, then I’m certain that you’ve got rid of your problem. With that said, I hope you enjoyed the read. More importantly I earnestly hope that it helped you out with your issue.

So, let’s close this one up. Farewell until the next one.

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