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What is the shortcut for fill color in Excel for Mac?

Selecting and changing the fill color for cells is a common task in Excel. While you can always use your mouse to click on the fill color button in the Home tab and select a color from the palette, there is a handy keyboard shortcut that can speed up the process. In this article, we’ll cover the shortcut for applying fill color in Excel for Mac.

Use the Command + Shift + C Shortcut

The fastest way to apply a fill color to selected cells in Excel for Mac is by using the Command + Shift + C keyboard shortcut. This shortcut will open the color palette, allowing you to select any fill color you want without taking your hands off the keyboard.

To use it:

  1. Select the cell(s) you want to apply a fill color to.
  2. Press Command + Shift + C on your keyboard.
  3. The color palette will appear. Click the color you want to use.

The selected cells will be filled with the chosen color immediately. This makes it quick and easy to highlight cells or make data more visually appealing by adding color.

Select From Recently Used Colors

When you use the Command + Shift + C shortcut, the color palette also shows recently used fill colors at the top. This makes it easy to quickly apply colors you use often without searching through the whole palette.

Just select the cells you want to color, press the shortcut key, and click on any of the recently used colors shown at the top to instantly apply it.

Works in All Versions of Excel for Mac

The Command + Shift + C shortcut works in all modern versions of Excel for Mac, including:

  • Microsoft 365
  • Excel 2022
  • Excel 2021
  • Excel 2019
  • Excel 2016

So you can feel confident using this shortcut, no matter which exact version of Excel for Mac you have.

Change Default Fill Colors

You can customize the default fill color palette in Excel for Mac to include the colors you use most often:

  1. Go to the Excel menu and select Preferences.
  2. Click on Fill.
  3. The default color palette will appear – click the color you want to change.
  4. Select the new color from the colors window.
  5. Repeat steps 3-4 to change other default colors.
  6. Click OK to save the changes.

Now your custom color palette will appear by default when you use the Command + Shift + C shortcut or fill handle.

Removing Fill Color

You can also use the Command + Shift + C shortcut to remove any fill color applied to cells:

  1. Select the cells you want to remove fill color from.
  2. Press Command + Shift + C.
  3. Click the white square at the top left of the palette.

This will reset the selected cells back to having no fill color applied.

Other Fill Color Options

In addition to the keyboard shortcut, there are a few other ways to apply fill color in Excel for Mac:

  • Home tab – click the Fill Color button in the Font group, then select color.
  • Right-click menu – right-click cells, select Format Cells, go to Fill tab.
  • Drag fill handle – click cell with fill color applied, grab square at bottom right and drag down or across.

However, the Command + Shift + C shortcut is usually the fastest method.


Using the handy Command + Shift + C keyboard shortcut is the quickest way to apply a fill color to cells in Excel for Mac. It opens the color palette instantly, lets you select from recently used colors, and works across all modern Excel versions.

With this simple shortcut under your belt, you can color-code data and make your worksheets more visually organized and appealing. Take advantage of Command + Shift + C to save time and gain efficiency in your Excel work on a Mac.

Keyboard Shortcut Function
Command + Shift + C Apply fill color to selected cells
Command + Shift + C then click white square Remove fill color from selected cells

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using keyboard shortcuts in Excel?

Using keyboard shortcuts like Command + Shift + C can make you more efficient and save time when working in Excel. Shortcuts allow you to perform common tasks quickly without taking your hands off the keyboard to use the mouse. This can help boost productivity.

Does the Command + Shift + C shortcut work in Excel for Windows?

No, the Command + Shift + C keyboard shortcut only works in Excel for Mac. The Windows version uses Ctrl + Shift + C instead to open the color palette.

Can I customize the colors that appear in the palette?

Yes, you can customize the default colors shown in the palette when you use the Command + Shift + C shortcut in Excel for Mac. Just select Preferences > Fill from the Excel menu and change the colors.

What happens if I select multiple color cells and use the shortcut?

If you select a range of cells containing multiple fill colors and use the Command + Shift + C shortcut, it will remove the fill color from all the selected cells.

Is there a way to apply colors without opening the palette?

Yes, you can just click the colored squares at the bottom of the Font group on the Home tab to quickly apply the most recently used colors. But this doesn’t let you pick from the full palette range.

Applying Colors to Tables and Charts

In addition to cells, you can also use fill colors to customize the look of tables, charts, and other objects in Excel for Mac.


To color table rows or columns:

  1. Select the rows or columns you want to color.
  2. Press Command + Shift + C.
  3. Pick a color from the palette.

This will apply the fill color to the selected table rows or columns.


To change chart colors:

  1. Click on the chart element (bar, line, pie slice, etc.) you want to color.
  2. Press Command + Shift + C.
  3. Choose your desired color.

The chart element will update to display the new color.

Alternatives to Fill Colors

While fill colors are useful for visual organization, keep in mind there are a few alternatives you can use as well:

  • Cell borders – Add borders around cells to divide sections of your worksheet.
  • Fonts – Styles like bold or italics can help differentiate cells.
  • Shading – Apply shades of gray to provide contrast.
  • Icons – Add icons to cells to indicate certain types of values.

In some cases, these options may be preferable to color for improving worksheet readability.

Troubleshooting Fill Color Issues

Fill colors not appearing correctly in your Excel for Mac worksheets? Here are some troubleshooting tips:

Accidentally Hidden Fill Colors

If colors aren’t showing up, check if the Fill setting is turned off:

  1. Select the cells missing color.
  2. Right click and choose Format Cells.
  3. On the Fill tab, make sure the Fill checkbox is checked.

Cells Overlapping Colors

If one cell overlaps another cell with a different fill color, it may cover it up. Reorder the cells so only one color is in each cell.

Mixed Black Text and Cells

Black cell text on top of black filled cells can mix together and look like black text on an invisible cell. Use a different text/fill color combo for clarity.

Mac Display Issue

On some Macs, a display issue may cause colored cells to appear black. Try setting the Display color profile to sRGB in System Preferences > Displays.

Tips for Effective Use of Fill Color

Here are some tips to use fill colors most effectively in Excel for Mac:

  • Use soft colors with high contrast to text.
  • Avoid overusing many bright colors together.
  • Color code cells consistently across worksheets.
  • Put darker colors on top of lighter colors.
  • Limit colors to 2-4 per worksheet.
  • Add a legend to explain color meanings.

Using fill colors sparingly and strategically will maximize their organizational and aesthetic impact.


The Command + Shift + C keyboard shortcut is the fastest way to fill cells with color in Excel for Mac. This simple shortcut opens the color palette, lets you quickly apply recently used colors, and works in all modern Excel for Mac versions.

By mastering this timesaving shortcut, you can color-code your data for better visual comprehension, organization, and appeal with just a couple keystrokes. The next time you need to add color to Excel cells, tables, or charts on a Mac, remember the handy Command + Shift + C shortcut.