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Solved: How do I fix Excel AutoComplete not working?

Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool for managing data, but its effectiveness is often amplified by its features. One such feature is Autocomplete, which simplifies repetitive tasks by suggesting and completing text based on existing entries.

However, there are instances when Autocomplete seems to take an unexpected break. In this article, we’ll delve into the common issue of Excel Autocomplete not working as it should and explore the solutions to get it back on track.

Solved: How do I fix Excel AutoComplete not working?

Understanding Excel’s AutoComplete

Before we dive into problem-solving, let’s grasp the essence of Excel’s Autocomplete. This feature is designed to streamline data entry. It operates by analyzing the content in the column you’re working on and offering suggestions based on the entries it finds. As you start typing, Excel presents you with a list of potential completions derived from your previous inputs. This not only accelerates data input but also minimizes errors.

Moreover, Autocomplete isn’t just about text. It’s a smart tool that extends its assistance to formulas as well. For instance, if you begin typing “=S,” Excel might promptly suggest relevant functions like SUM and SUMIF, making your formula creation a breeze.

Understanding the Issue

Before we dive into the solution, let’s ensure we’re on the same page about the problem. Imagine you’re working in Excel, and you start typing “ice,” expecting to see “cream” suggested by Autocomplete. But nothing happens. It’s as if Autocomplete has gone on vacation.

So, what could be causing this? There are a couple of common culprits. First, it’s possible that Autocomplete is disabled in your Excel settings. Second, your dataset might have pesky blank cells disrupting Autocomplete’s smooth operation.

Troubleshooting Excel Autocomplete

When Autocomplete decides to go on a hiatus, it can be frustrating, especially if you’re accustomed to its time-saving capabilities. Here are some steps to troubleshoot and resolve the issue:

Solution 1: Check Autocomplete Settings

Let’s begin by confirming that Autocomplete is enabled in your Excel settings. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Click the File tab on the ribbon at the top of your Excel window.

Step 2: On the backstage view that appears, click Options on the left-hand side. This opens up the Excel Options dialog box.

Step 3: Within the Excel Options dialog box, click the Advanced tab on the left pane.

Step 4: Now, under the ‘Editing Options‘ section, keep an eye out for a checkbox that reads ‘Enable Autocomplete for all cell values.’ Make sure this box is checked. This action activates Autocomplete.

Now, under the 'Editing Options' section, keep an eye out for a checkbox that reads 'Enable Autocomplete for all cell values.' Make sure this box is checked. This action activates Autocomplete.

Step 5: To finalize your changes, simply click OK.

Now that we’ve rekindled Autocomplete’s flame, it’s time to put it to the test. Try typing “ice” once more and see if “cream” magically appears at the end as it should.

Solution 2: The Blank Cell Conundrum

Blank cells can be innocent-looking troublemakers when it comes to Autocomplete. They lurk in your dataset, wreaking havoc by interrupting the smooth flow of suggestions.

Blank cells can be innocent-looking troublemakers when it comes to Autocomplete. They lurk in your dataset, wreaking havoc by interrupting the smooth flow of suggestions.

Here’s how you can tackle them:

Method 1: Deleting Blank Rows

Step 1: Begin by right-clicking on the row containing the troublesome blank cell.

Step 2: From the context menu that appears, select Delete.

With a swift click, the problematic row vanishes into the digital abyss. Now, go ahead and test Autocomplete once more.

Method 2: Filling in the Blanks

Alternatively, if you’d rather not part with your data, you can fill in those pesky blank cells. Here’s how:

Step 1: Insert the desired data into the blank cell situated next to the column where you intend to use Autocomplete.

Step 2: Now, attempt to type your text into the cell of that column. Does Autocomplete spring back to life?

By either eliminating or populating those blank cells, you’re removing the stumbling blocks that were preventing Autocomplete from doing its job.

In this second step of troubleshooting Excel Autocomplete, we’ve addressed the issue of blank cells in your dataset. With these solutions at your fingertips, you’re one step closer to reclaiming the efficiency and convenience of Excel’s Autocomplete feature. Stay tuned as we explore more potential fixes in the following sections.

Solution 3: Data Consistency / Data Validation

Autocomplete depends on the existing data within the column. If you’re facing issues, it’s wise to confirm that the data is correctly formatted and doesn’t contain any hidden characters, extra spaces, or trailing spaces in your data that might be disrupting Autocomplete.

Solution 4: Restart Excel

Sometimes, a simple software restart can resolve Autocomplete issues. Save your work, close Excel, and then reopen your spreadsheet to see if the feature is functioning correctly.

Solution 5: Check for Software Updates

Outdated software can sometimes lead to compatibility issues. Ensure that you’re using the latest version of Excel by checking for updates and installing any available patches.

Solution 6: Try the Autofill Handle

When working with a large dataset, you might not see Autocomplete suggestions immediately. In such cases, use the autofill handle (a small square at the bottom-right corner of a selected cell) to drag and populate adjacent cells with the desired content.

Solution 7: Add to Autocomplete List

If Excel isn’t providing suggestions for a specific set of entries, you can manually add them to the Autocomplete list. Go to “File” > “Options” > “Advanced,” and click on the “Edit Custom Lists” button. Here, you can input your custom entries.


Excel’s Autocomplete feature is a time-saving tool that enhances productivity when working with large datasets. However, if you find that Autocomplete is not working correctly, follow the troubleshooting steps mentioned above to get it back on track. By checking settings, validating data, and ensuring you have the latest updates, you can resolve Autocomplete issues and make your Excel experience smoother and more efficient.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Question: What are the possible reasons why AutoComplete is not working in Excel?

Answer: There are several possible reasons why your AutoComplete feature stopped working in Excel. Here are some common causes and solutions:

  • You have disabled the AutoComplete option in the Excel settings. To enable it, go to File > Options > Advanced. Under Editing options, make sure the checkbox for “Enable AutoComplete for cell values” is checked.
  • You have blank cells in your data set. Excel will not AutoComplete values if there are empty cells in the column. To fix this, you can either fill in the blank cells with some values or sort your data to remove the blank cells.
  • You have formatted your cells as a specific data type, such as number or date. Excel will not AutoComplete values that do not match the data type of the cells. To fix this, you can either change the format of your cells to text or general, or enter values that match the data type of the cells.
  • You have turned off automatic calculation in Excel. This can affect the AutoComplete feature as well as other functions. To turn on automatic calculation, go to the Formula tab and click on Calculation options. Select Automatic.
  • You have a software glitch or a hardware issue that prevents Excel from working properly. To fix this, you can try restarting Excel or your computer. You can also check for updates on your Excel software and install them if available.

If none of these steps work, you can try searching for more solutions online or contacting Microsoft support for assistance.

Question: How do Autofill and Autocomplete in Excel differ?

Answer: Autofill and Autocomplete are two features in Excel that can help you enter data faster and easier. However, they have some differences in how they work and what they can do. Here are some of the main differences between Autofill and Autocomplete in Excel:

  • Autofill is a feature that automatically fills a range of cells with data based on a pattern or a series. For example, if you enter 1 and 2 in two adjacent cells, and drag the fill handle (the small square at the bottom right corner of the selected cell) down or across, Excel will fill the rest of the cells with 3, 4, 5, and so on. Autofill can also fill dates, days of the week, months, formulas, and custom lists that you create.
  • Autocomplete is a feature that automatically completes a cell value while you are typing, based on the values that already exist in the same column. For example, if you have a list of names in column A, and you start typing a name that matches one of the existing names, Excel will show a drop-down list of suggestions that you can choose from. You can also press Enter or Tab to accept the suggested value.
  • Autofill can fill a large range of cells with data in one action, while Autocomplete can only fill one cell at a time. Autofill can also create new values based on a pattern or a series, while Autocomplete can only use existing values in the same column.
  • Autofill can be activated by dragging the fill handle, double-clicking the fill handle, or using the Fill option in the Home tab. Autocomplete can be activated by typing a value that matches an existing value in the same column.
  • Autofill can be customized by creating your own lists of values that you want to fill. You can also change the default settings for Autofill by going to File > Options > Advanced > Editing options. Autocomplete cannot be customized by creating your own lists of values. You can only turn it on or off by going to File > Options > Advanced > Editing options.

Alex Lim is a certified IT Technical Support Architect with over 15 years of experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting complex IT systems and networks. He has worked for leading IT companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, providing technical support and solutions to clients across various industries and sectors. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Singapore and a master’s degree in information security from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the author of several best-selling books on IT technical support, such as The IT Technical Support Handbook and Troubleshooting IT Systems and Networks. Alex lives in Bandar, Johore, Malaysia with his wife and two chilrdren. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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