Microsoft® Excel – Flash Fill (IT Training Tip)

The Flash Fill feature in Microsoft® Excel 2013/2016 for Windows fills in data for you when a pattern is detected. As an example, let’s say you have a Column A in an Excel Worksheet with the First and Last Names of individuals. In the next two Columns B & C, you might want to have the First Name and Last Name separated from each other (First Name in Column B and Last Name in Column C). By using the Flash Fill feature in Microsoft® Excel, once you start typing a pattern in each cell (First Name, Column B), Flash Fill will recognize the pattern and fill the rest of the cells in Column B with the First Names from Column A. The same can be done with the Last Names in Column C.

By default, the Flash Fill feature should be enabled. To check if Flash Fill is enabled:

  • Launch Microsoft® Excel 2013/2016 for Windows
  • Click on the File tab
  • Click on Options
  • From the Excel Options window, click on Advancedlocated in the left margin
    • The Flash Fill feature is located under the Enable AutoComplete for cell values in the Editing options section
    • Verify there is a checkmark next to Automatically Flash Fill

Using Flash Fill:
Once you have verified Flash Fill is enabled to Automatically Flash Fill, Microsoft® Excel automatically begins to detect patterns and will fill your cells in a flash!! Now you can separate the First and Last Names without the use of complicated formulas, formatting, or having to use copy and paste

  • In the example above, Combined First and Last Name is located in Column ASeparated First Name is located in Column B, and Separated [i]Last Name in Column C[/i]
  • Begining in Column Btype in the First Name from Column A
  • In the next row in Column Btype in the next First Name, and Flash Fill will automatically show you the pattern (of First Names) it has detected
  • Press the Enter key to accept the pattern from Flash Fill
  • The rest of the First Names from Column A will automatically be populated in Column B

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