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Create functions in Numbers '09 using the keyboard Apps
As a long-time Excel user, one of the things that annoyed me about Numbers '08 was that you couldn't completely create functions using the keyboard. Sure, you could start typing =MID(, for instance. However, as soon as you needed to enter a cell reference, you had to reach for the mouse, even if the cell you wanted to reference was located right next to the formula you were typing. The arrow keys would only move the cursor within the typed text, not around the worksheet to select cells.

When I first started using Numbers '09, I thought this was still the case -- because that's all the arrow keys seem to do in this version, too. But here's the secret solution, which isn't documented in the User Manual nor in the Keyboard Shortcuts list available in Help: Hold down the Option key before pressing the arrow keys (this won't work in Numbers '08). With the Option key down, you can then move around the active table and select cells using just the keyboard. Release the Option key, and the last-highlighted cell is inserted into the formula.

After I found this, I couldn't believe it wasn't documented, so I dug a bit further. It turns out it is documented, but only in the new (and very well done but not well publicized) Formulas and Functions User Guide. You can find this guide via an entry in the Help menu in Numbers '09, which takes you to this web page. There you'll find the Formulas and Functions User Guide available for download (or just click here to download [4.9MB]). Read on for some more keyboard function entry tricks from the user guide...

This guide explains every one of Numbers functions, and offers a number of useful tips. After stumbling on my Option key trick, I found a whole section devoted (on page 27) to using the keyboard when entering functions. For instance, to refer to a range of cells (instead of a single cell), select the first cell in the range using the Option key trick, then add Shift to the Option key, and move with the arrow keys. Release both Shift and Option when the range is set.

To refer to cells in another table on the same (or another) sheet, select the table by pressing Command-Option-Page Down (or -Page Up). Once the table you'd like to use is selected, keep the Option key down, but release the Command key, then use the Option or Shift-Option methods to select a cell or range of cells.

To set absolute and relative attributes on a cell reference, first insert the reference into the function, then use the arrow keys (without holding Option down) to position the cursor right next to the reference. Now press Command-K to cycle between the various relative and absolute addressing options.
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Create functions in Numbers '09 using the keyboard
Authored by: S on Jan 22, '09 08:50:23AM

I never even knew you could do that with the arrow keys in Excel – I always just typed the grid reference!

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Create functions in Numbers '09 using the keyboard
Authored by: mael on Jan 22, '09 01:52:29PM

Thanks! Great tip!
Made my day!

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This is GOLD!
Authored by: dlcmh on Jan 22, '09 04:15:20PM

Thanks very much for this tip!

Regards, David Chin

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Create functions in Numbers '09 using the keyboard
Authored by: benfsmith on Jan 23, '09 07:44:56AM

This is indeed a helpful tip, as doing real work on a spreadsheet that requires a mouse is too cumbersome.

One missing keyboard shortcut that still annoys me too much to use Numbers for more than a minute at a time is Excel's command (or crtl on a PC) + arrow. This allows you to jump to the end of contiguously filled (or blank) cells in a row or column. It is indispensable for navigating large spreadsheets.

Does anyone know a key combination for this by chance?

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Create functions in Numbers '09 using the keyboard
Authored by: jaxjason on Jan 23, '09 10:33:14AM

You can navigate using the Fn + arrows. but it DOES NOT move the cursor to the locaiton, just your view. Kinda like using the scorll bar in a word document, unless you place the cursor on that page, it is sitll at the top.

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