The problem is that sometimes these items can be hidden or can overlap each other such that you cant find them.
But, there is a really great tool that allows you to view all of the objects that you have in your worksheet, its called the Selection Pane.
Here is a sample worksheet with some objects in it (you can download this Excel file from the side menu and also below this tutorial):
At this point, we can only see a smiley face, but, lets see if there is anything else in the worksheet.
To get to the Selection Pane, select any object in the worksheet, click the Format tab that will then appear, then select the Selection Pane button:
Once you click Selection Pane, you will see this:
Now, we can see that there are actually three shapes on the sheet. One is a smiley face, one a heart, and one is an oval these are the default names for these objects but they could have been renamed to anything.
The first thing to notice is that there is no eye image next to the shape titled Oval 1 and this means that it is hidden. Simply click the white button where the eye should be to see it in the sheet:
You can also click the button Show All at the bottom of the Selection Pane window to quickly make all shapes and objects visible or Hide All to hide all of them.
However, as you may have seen, there are three items on the worksheet but we can only see two of them. This happens when an object is on top of another one. To see if that is the case here, simply select the items in the Selection Pane and see where the outline for it appears on the worksheet.
Tip: if you select a single item in the Selection Pane and then hit Ctrl+A, it will select all items at once so you can see them.
Here, it looks like there is something inside of the smiley face. To see if that is true, you can do one of two things:
Click the smiley face with the mouse and drag it away:
Or, select the smiley face shape from the Selection Pane and then hit the down arrow at the bottom of the Selection Pane until an object appears on top of the smiley face:
Both ways let you see the object that is under the smiley face.
I recommend using the second method since objects are often strategically placed within a worksheet and you dont wat to mess-up the placement of them. However, hitting Ctrl+Z will undo any changes in case you mess-up anything.
If there are no visible shapes or objects in the worksheet but you know that some are there and you want to see them, you can still access the Selection Pane, just go to the Page Layout tab and click the Selection Pane button, which is located in the Arrange group of icons.
I hope this was a helpful tutorial! If you liked it, dont forget to share it and let people know about it!
Bottom Line: Learn how to select several shapes at once, including charts, slicers, images, etc. These techniques will help you save time when working with reports and dashboards that contain multiple objects on the same worksheet.
Skill Level: Beginner
Download the Excel File
You can download the file I’m using in the video to practice on your own.
5 Ways To Select Multiple Shapes.xlsxDownload
Selecting Multiple Shapes
Being able to select many shapes simultaneously can be a real time-saver when you want to perform the same action on several objects at once. Those actions could include:
Shapes can include charts, images, slicers, text boxes, photos, callouts, and more.
Below are five ways to quickly select several shapes at once. Which option you choose might depend on whether you want to select just some of the shapes on your worksheet or all of them, or whether you are more comfortable with keyboard shortcuts versus using the ribbon menu.
Option 1: Using the Ctrl Key
After selecting one shape, we can hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on other shapes we want selected. This allows us to pick and choose which shapes we want to manipulate. Using the Shift key instead of Ctrl will produce the same outcome.
When you select the first chart or shape, make sure to click on the border of the shape, not just one of the elements inside it. Otherwise you might start editing the shape instead of selecting it. After the first shape is selected, you can click anywhere on the other shapes to select them (while holding the Ctrl key).
Option 2: Using the Ctrl + A Keyboard Shortcut
As with Option 1, you will want to select one shape first, being sure to click on the border of the shape, not one of its components. Hold the Ctrl key, then press the A key to select all of the shapes on the sheet.
Keyboard shortcut to Select all Shapes on a Worksheet: Ctrl+A
This option saves time if we have many shapes and don’t want to select each of them individually. Because this option selects all of the shapes on our sheet, if there are certain shapes we want to exclude, we would need to use the Ctrl key, as in Option 1, to deselect the shapes we don’t want included.
Option 3: Using the Selection Pane
If you already have one or more shapes selected, click on the Format tab, and then the Selection Pane button to toggle on the Selection Pane. It will appear to the right of the worksheet.
If you don’t have a shape already selected, the Selection Pane can be found in the ribbon under the Home tab, in the Find & Select dropdown menu.
For ease of use in the future, you can easily add the Selection Pane button to your Quick Access Toolbar. You’ll find that option when you right-click on Selection Pane in the dropdown.
The Selection Pane allows us to see all the shapes on our sheet in list form. This is especially convenient if our worksheet is large in area and we don’t want to hunt for particular objects. The pane also gives us the ability to hide and unhide shapes, or to bring forward shapes that are overlapped by other objects.
Option 4: Using the Select Objects Mode
If all of our shapes are clustered in the same area, we may want to make use of the Select Objects mode. This is also found under the Find & Select dropdown menu on the Home tab of the ribbon.
Once you've turned this mode on, you simply highlight the area around all of the shapes you want to select. You can highlight by clicking at one corner of your desired area, holding the left mouse button down while moving to the opposite corner, and then releasing the button.
You basically draw an area around the shapes you want to select. All shapes that are completely inside the area you’ve drawn will then be selected.
This is similar to the behavior of selecting multiple objects in PowerPoint.
It's important to note that you will have to turn the mode off again to make changes in the cells of your worksheet. You can do this by by clicking again on the Select Objects option in the Find & Select menu.
Select Objects is another great feature to add to your Quick Access Toolbar as it gives you the ability to more quickly toggle the mode on and off. Check out my post on how to setup the Quick Access Toolbar for more details.
Option 5: Using the Go To Special Menu
You can access this option from the Find & Select menu on the Home tab of the ribbon. Click on the Objects radio button to select all of the objects on the sheet.
This option is probably the least useful of the five since it isn’t as fast as the keyboard shortcut to select all. But it never hurts to know your options, right?
Arranging Multiple Shapes
If you’d like to see how shapes can quickly be arranged to appear more professional and orderly, I encourage you to check out my brief tutorials on:
Please leave a comment below with any questions or suggestions on other ways to select multiple shapes. Thank you! 🙂
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Renier Wessels says:
Hi Jon. Just wanted to give you a shout out. Your tips and presentations are great.
Keep up the good work!
Jon Peltier says:
When selecting one chart, you need to worry about clicking on the border of the chart, or you might select some internal chart element. But even if you’ve selected a chart element, holding Ctrl and clicking anywhere on another chart will select the whole chart of the element that was initially selected and the whole second chart which was selected. No need to try to land the mouse on the narrow outline of a chart.
Alaor Barbosa says:
Thank you very much for the tips.
Nice, clean and simple. Helpful.
thanks a lot
Thanks a lot! this guide is very useful
Very Good! Thank you!
Thanks! Very well explained, a timesaver ..
Thanks! Very helpful well explained time saver.
Thank you so much because of your instruction. I’m Hoai, from Vietnam.
Thanks a lot. You have saved much of my time.
OK, I can select all objects. I want to cut them from that chart and paste into a new template. Right click does not bring up the cut or copy options. Please advise! Thx
Maged Almasry says:
Excellent. This summary told me about what I was looking for, and taught me a few new tips. Thank you.
How do I select hidden objects in Excel?
The approach is to first select all visible cells in the worksheet, which also will reveal hidden rows and columns..
Press F5 > Special..
Press Ctrl+G > Special..
Or on the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Find & Select>Go To Special..
How do I select all embedded objects in Excel?
If you need to select all objects embedded into the worksheet, e.g., select all charts to adjust their size, press Ctrl+G and click the Special button or use Ctrl to select objects individually. Excel will select all objects on the sheet, not just the charts. Another option is to select each chart individually.
How do I select all hidden tabs in Excel?
To unhide more than one sheet, follow these easy steps in any workbook that contains hidden worksheets: Right-click the Sheet tab at the bottom, and select Unhide. - Press the Shift + Up/Down Arrow keys to select multiple (or all) worksheets, and then press OK.
How do I bulk unhide in Excel?
Depending on your operating system, you can use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + A or Command + A to select the entire document. Then you can press Ctrl + Shift + 9 to unhide all rows on your spreadsheet.