Mastering The Art of Undoing in Excel A Comprehensive Guide

How to undo in excel


Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool widely used for data analysis, financial modeling, and various other tasks. However, even seasoned users can make mistakes while working on complex spreadsheets. Fortunately, Excel offers a powerful feature called “Undo” that allows you to reverse unintended actions and recover your work. In this article, we will explore the various methods of undoing in Excel and how to make the most of this indispensable feature.

Understanding the Basics of Undo

The Undo feature in Excel allows you to reverse your last action, bringing your spreadsheet back to its previous state. To access this feature, you can either press “Ctrl+Z” on your keyboard or click on the “Undo” button in the Quick Access Toolbar (located at the top left corner by default). With each press of “Ctrl+Z” or click on the “Undo” button, Excel reverses the last action performed, step by step.

Multiple Levels of Undo

Excel provides a considerable advantage over other applications by offering multiple levels of undo. This means you can undo not only your last action but a series of actions that were performed earlier. By default, Excel stores the last 100 actions in the undo stack. To access multiple levels of undo, click on the drop-down arrow next to the “Undo” button in the Quick Access Toolbar to view a list of actions that can be undone. Alternatively, you can use the “Ctrl+Z” keyboard shortcut repeatedly to cycle through the undo stack.

Redo – The Companion Feature

In addition to “Undo,” Excel also offers the “Redo” feature to reapply actions that you have previously undone. To access this feature, press “Ctrl+Y” on your keyboard or click on the “Redo” button in the Quick Access Toolbar. Similar to “Undo,” Excel supports multiple levels of “Redo,” allowing you to revert changes made by the “Undo” feature.

Undoing Specific Actions

Excel enables you to target specific actions for undoing without having to reverse all changes since your last save. To do this, click on the drop-down arrow next to the “Undo” button in the Quick Access Toolbar. Instead of choosing “Undo,” select the specific action you wish to undo from the list provided. This way, you can efficiently address mistakes without losing unrelated work.

Understanding Limitations

While the “Undo” feature is undoubtedly helpful, it does have its limitations. For instance, it cannot undo certain actions like saving the file, importing data, or some macro operations. Furthermore, closing and reopening the workbook will clear the undo stack, making it impossible to undo actions performed before the closing. To mitigate these limitations, it is crucial to save your work regularly and use the “Save As” function if you want to experiment with changes without losing your original data.

AutoSave and AutoRecover

To further safeguard your work against accidental data loss, Excel offers “AutoSave” and “AutoRecover” features. “AutoSave” automatically saves changes to the cloud while you work, reducing the risk of losing data due to power outages or system crashes. On the other hand, “AutoRecover” periodically saves a backup copy of your file in case Excel unexpectedly shuts down. You can adjust the frequency of “AutoRecover” in Excel’s settings to suit your preferences.

Using Versions and Backups

In addition to “AutoRecover,” you can manually create versions and backups of your Excel files. Saving different versions with incremental file names can help you track changes and revert to a specific point if needed. Additionally, keeping regular backups on an external drive or cloud storage ensures you always have access to earlier versions of your work, providing an extra layer of protection.

Power of Keyboard Shortcuts

Mastering keyboard shortcuts can significantly enhance your efficiency when working in Excel. For example, you can use “Ctrl+Z” for undoing and “Ctrl+Y” for redoing, as mentioned earlier. However, there are many more shortcuts available, such as “Ctrl+Shift+Z” for redoing multiple undo actions or “Ctrl+Alt+F9” to recalculate all formulas. Familiarizing yourself with these shortcuts can save you valuable time and effort.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What are the two key features of undo command in MS Excel?

Undo is used to reverse the last actions the user does in Excel, Excel by default stores the last 100 actions, so using the Undo option the user can reverse his actions up to 100 times and restore things to how they were. Undo action can also be performed even if one has saved the file. Redo does the opposite of Undo.

What are the functions of undo?

Undo is a function performed to reverse the action of an earlier action. For example, the undo function can undo deleted text in a word processor. Some software programs may also have the capability of performing multiple undo actions.


Excel’s “Undo” feature is a lifesaver for anyone working with spreadsheets, allowing users to rectify mistakes and experiment with confidence. Understanding its multiple levels, companion “Redo” feature, and specific action undoing capabilities can significantly improve your productivity. Moreover, combining “Undo” with features like “AutoSave,” “AutoRecover,” and maintaining regular backups will provide robust data protection. By implementing these strategies and mastering keyboard shortcuts, you can confidently navigate through Excel and unleash your true productivity potential.

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