How to fill down Google Sheets – save time with these shortcuts

Learn how to fill down Google Sheets, a great feature that will let you replicate data across spreadsheets effortlessly. Pick up new tricks to make your spreadsheets work for you and not the other way around.

Ready to streamline your data?

Fill handle definition

The fill handle is a small circle at the bottom right corner of selected cells. Most of the features discussed below will include some sort of interaction with this tiny circle. By the end you will discover that this unassuming element of spreadsheets is pretty powerful for its size.

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Three basic ways to fill down

Filling down data is easy and it saves both time and effort. There are three basic ways to do it:

  • Grab and Drag: Simply grab the fill handle and drag it in any direction to replicate the value across desired cells. This method is quick but can be a hassle with large datasets.
  • Double-Click: Just select the desired cell and double-click the fill handle. This will replicate the contents of the original cell down the column for all rows with data. This is particularly useful for large datasets, ensuring consistency and saving considerable time.
  • Keyboard Shortcut: Select a cell range you want then press Ctrl + D (on Windows) or Cmd + D (on macOS). This will replicate the value of the top cell down into the rest of the selected range.

Try these methods out for yourself and see which one you like best. Successfully implementing them is key to making the most of spreadsheets.

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Filling down formulas

When working with formulas in Google Sheets, filling down can streamline data analysis and calculations. But there are a few things to keep in mind to get your formulas to work as expected.

Locking cell values

You always have to keep cell references in mind if you fill down formulas in Google Sheets. By default they will shift around when you replicate a formula. That’s why you should lock cell references if you want them to point to a fixed position in your worksheet.

To do this add dollar signs ($) to the row and/or column references in your formula. For example, $A$1 remains fixed on cell A1, whereas A$1 allows the column to change but not the row, and $A1 allows the row to change but not the column.

Arrayformula function

If you update spreadsheets or work with dynamic data sets, ARRAYFORMULA is a game-changer. It allows a formula to work with an array (a range of data) and outputs results across corresponding columns or rows.

This means when new data is added to your spreadsheet, the formula automatically extends to include this new data without needing to manually fill down each time. It’s especially useful for applying calculations across entire columns with a single formula.

Learn how to use this awesome function with our article on How to use Google Sheets ARRAYFORMULA.

Google Sheets autofill

The autofill feature in Google Sheets works a lot like fill down. But its behavior is different: instead of duplicating a value it predicts what the next values in a series will be.  Let’s break down how it works and why it’s beneficial.

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How to use autofill

Start by selecting the cell or range that holds the initial data or pattern. When you drag the fill handle, autofill kicks in, extending the data based on the pattern it recognizes.

For more complex sequences, selecting two or more cells before dragging can help autofill recognize the intended pattern more accurately.

Predictive data entry

Autofill intelligently predicts and auto-populates successive cells based on the initial data pattern. For instance, if you start with “January,” autofill can generate the subsequent months as you drag the fill handle across adjacent cells.

Incrementing numbers and dates

One of the most useful aspects of autofill is its ability to increment numbers and dates automatically.

This means if you’re working on a series or sequence, such as dates, invoice numbers, or even days of the week, autofill recognizes the pattern and fills in the data.

Google Sheets mobile fill down

If you ever tried to fill down on mobile, chances are you were frustrated. The good news is that it can be done, the bad news is that it takes a few more steps.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to fill down on mobile:

  1. Select the cell range you want to fill down, it must include the value you want to replicate. 
  2. Tap and hold the selected cell range, this will bring up a menu.
  3. Choose “Autofill”, it will try to predict what values should go in each cell.

While the mobile version of Google Sheets doesn’t provide the exact same functionality, it is still good to know how to use it. Copying and pasting values on mobile is a real hassle, that makes the potential to save time much greater.

Go forth, fill down

With these tools at your disposal, you’re well-equipped to navigate the complexities of spreadsheet management. Ensure your data is always up-to-date, accurate, and presented in the most efficient manner.

Go forth, fill down, and make the most of your Google Sheets experience!

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