F4 Not Working in Excel: Simple Solutions to Make it Work

If you have worked with Excel for a while you would know by now some of the shortcuts to do your work faster. F4 is one such command. By pressing F4, you can repeat your previous command on a cell. Or you can also use F4 to toggle your values between absolute, mixed, and relative.

This saves you a lot of time and you won’t have to pick up your mouse just to do the same commands or actions again. If you have to copy some value to an entire column, you can just put the value in the first cell, select a range with your keyboard and press F4 to quickly fill the rest of the selected range with your desired value.

Normally, this shortcut would be a very handy tool to have, if it is working properly. But, you may have faced a situation where the F4 button is not functioning properly or not even working at all.

So let’s figure out a way to fix the F4 button function in Excel problem or find an alternative.

Let’s start. Shall we?

How to Fix F4 Not Working Problem in Excel

When it works, Excel shortcuts like pressing F4 to quickly repeat the last command are very convenient ways to complete your work. But, if the shortcut does not work, it can become equally annoying.

But if the F4 shortcut is not working in your Excel, it mostly is because of simple reasons. And the solutions are equally simple.

Here we will discuss 7 solutions to fix your F4 not working problem in Excel. 

So here we go.

Moving from Windows to Mac? Use Keybinds

If you have worked mostly with Windows and are shifting to a Mac, you will see that even if you’re tapping the F4 button nothing is happening. In this case, you may be wondering what you are doing wrong.

Actually, in MacOS, the F4 button will not work. Rather, Mac has an entirely different set of keybindings for doing the same thing. In a Mac system, you can do the same thing with a different set of keys.

If you want to repeat the same action in Excel for Mac you have to press Command+Y.

If you want to toggle between cell references (mixed, relative, and absolute), press Command+T.

Use an Alternative Shortcut

If the function of F4 is not working in Excel, then you can just use a different shortcut to achieve the same function.

If you need the F4 button to repeat the last command or action on Windows, you can just press CTRL + Y to do the same thing. Pressing CTRL and Y will repeat your last action or command in Excel for Windows. In Mac, as we discussed before, you can use Command + Y.

Similarly you can also manually put the dollar ($) sign in between the cell references to change the value to absolute, relative, or mixed.

Use The Fn Key

If you are in the market for a new keyboard you will notice that, there are many keyboard options with a shorter, slimmer profile with perhaps 60%, 70%, or even an 80% size profile.

These keyboard options do not have enough keys. So they resort to the Function keys (The top rows of your keyboard with the F keys) to do different tasks. Here is an example of a Logitech MK220 mini keyboard that doesn’t have a full set of keys.

With the Fn key 1

So in many cases, you will find that to do the job the F keys were supposed to do you need to toggle the Fn keys to enable the F key. For example, the F2 key is for renaming a file. You might have to press Fn and F2 keys together to complete the task.

This is the case for many laptops which you can see in the image below.

With the Fn key 2

Similarly, in Excel, you may also need to press the Fn key and the F4 key simultaneously to achieve the function of the F4 key as is the case for many laptops.

But the Fn key itself works differently on different devices. For example, in some Asus laptops, you may have to press and hold the Fn key first so that the Fn key would light up. This would mean that now the Function keys are unlocked and you can use the F keys normally.

So when you are working with the F4 key in Excel, make sure that you have the correct Fn key state. If you don’t know the correct Fn state, make sure you download the manual for your device from the support website of your device manufacturer.

Turn Off The F Lock Key

This option is going to work only if you have an F lock key on your keyboard. Older keyboards, especially the Microsoft Keyboard had an F lock key instead of the Fn key. You might also be among those who have an F lock key on your keyboard.

This F lock key will prevent you from performing any of the Function key functions. So to re-enable them just try toggling the F lock key to check if the F4 key starts working again.

Quite easy, right?

Turning off the Sticky keys and Filter Keys

Sticky keys and the Filter keys essentially will tell Windows to ignore any repeated keystrokes. If you are working with F4, you may be using this key repeatedly while keeping the Filter keys and the Sticky keys on.

The sticky keys and the filter keys actually come in handy from an accessibility standpoint. But, if you are using sticky keys or filter keys, they will alter your keyboard shortcut because you are essentially working with a combination of keys.

So to check if you have sticky keys enabled, you can just press the SHIFT key repeatedly 5 times to check if the keyboard is in sticky keys mode.

To disable sticky keys or Filter keys mode, in Windows 11 you can go to Settings>Accessiblity>Keyboards.

Turning off Sticky keys and Filter Keys 1

From here you can turn off sticky keys and filter keys.

But if you are running an older build of windows, click Windows + R and type control, as shown in the image.

Turning off Sticky keys and Filter Keys 2

This will open the control panel. In the Control Panel click on Ease of Access Center (Marked on the left-hand side).

Turning off Sticky keys and Filter Keys 3

This will open up the Ease of access panel where close to the bottom you will see an option named Make the keyboard easier to use (Marked Red).

Turning off Sticky keys and Filter Keys 4

Click on the option and you will be presented with a menu where you can turn off Filter keys and Sticky keys from this menu by unchecking the options.

Turning off Sticky keys and Filter Keys 5

Then click on Apply and OK to apply these settings. And you’re done. If your F4 key was not working due to a Sticky key or a Filter key it should work just fine now.

Put Your Marker Inside the Reference Before Using F4

Say, you have some data where you want to toggle the absolute, relative, and mixed state with the F4 key. For example, in our example, we are trying to toggle the cell reference value for the B4 cell.

Put Your Marker Inside the Reference Before Using F4 (1)

As you can see, the B4 cell is selected. But if you press F4 now, nothing will happen. This is because Excel is trying to repeat the last action in this cell.

To properly toggle between absolute, relative, and mixed state, you have to put your cursor inside the cell reference which you want to toggle. So we can double-click on the 4 cells to bring up the formula.

Put Your Marker Inside the Reference Before Using F4 (2)

You can also select and press F2 to bring up the formula as well.

Now, we have the cursor in the B3 cell. Now just press F4 and you will see that the state of the cell reference has changed.

Put Your Marker Inside the Reference Before Using F4 (3)

Similarly, you can press the F4 key to toggle between the other two states after you have placed your cursor in the cell reference.

It’s that simple.

Replace the Faulty Keyboard or Button

But maybe, you have tried all of these solutions and still, nothing is working. In that case, you should check whether your keyboard is working fine or your F4 key is working properly.

If you have an extra working keyboard available at hand, just check with that keyboard if the F4 key is working properly. Or, if you do not have an additional keyboard, just bring up your On-Screen Keyboard and press the F4 button. We have posted a guide on how to bring up your On-Screen Keyboard in one of our other guides here.

As a beginner, you may not use the function keys regularly. This will make the keyboard prone to dust accumulation and your F4 key may not work due to this. So make sure to try and clean.

Or, you can even go to a keyboard checker website to check if your F4 button is working.

Summing Up

As you can see in our guide, the F4 button not working problem appears often due to silly reasons like the Fn button. So before replacing your keyboard thinking you have the F4 button faulty, just go ahead and try the solutions we discussed here.

Although using the F4 button is very convenient for repeating and toggling cell references to absolute, mixed, or relative, you can always do the same tasks with other keyboard shortcuts.

So we hope this guide has helped you with your F4 button not functioning in Microsoft Excel problem. If not, tell us in the comments below what triggered this for you and we will get back with a solution ASAP.

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