Flash fill is an incredible time-saving spreadsheet feature. With flash fill, Excel can detect patterns and then combine or extract data based on them. It’s very easy, and helps you work faster. Let’s learn how to use flash fill in Excel.
How to Use Flash Fill in Microsoft Excel
Consider a column of data. Each cell contains two letters, followed by five numbers. Imagine that you want to add a second column, listing only the two letters. Naturally, you could simply type them in manually. But with Excel’s Flash Fill extracting feature, you don’t have to.
To use flash fill, click into the first empty cell in your second column. Then, type in the two letters found in the cell to its left. Here, that’s DM.
Then, with your cell selected, go to the Data tab on Excel’s ribbon. On the right side, look for the Flash Fill icon. It looks like a spreadsheet with a small lightning bolt in the corner. Click on it.
Excel will analyze what you’ve typed in, and automatically realize that you’re seeking to list the two letters. It then applies this logic to the remaining empty cells in your new column.
You can also use Flash Fill to combine data. For example, consider a list of first and last names. In a third column, you’d like to combine the two names. Once again, click into the empty cell just to the right of the uppermost last name.
Then, type in the name:
Go back to the Data tab, find Flash Fill, and click on it again. Excel will immediately list the combined names in your column.
As you can see, Flash Fill is a quick way to work with your data. It taps into Excel’s data-analysis power to make smart decisions. This saves you precious time and hard work.