If you enter a lot of sequential values in your Excel worksheets, the Fill Handle can help you save time by automatically filling cells with incremented values. What if you find the fill handle doesn’t work?

By default, the fill handle is enabled, and we’ll show you how to disable it. These same instructions can be used to re-enable it, if you find it got turned off by accident.

To enable or disable the fill handle in Excel, open a new or existing workbook file and click the “File” tab.

On the backstage screen, click “Options” in the list of items on the left.

Click “Advanced” in the list of items on the left side of the Excel Options dialog box.


If you want to disable the fill handle, and the “Enable fill handle and cell drag-and-drop” box in the Editing section is checked, uncheck the box. To re-enable the fill handle, just re-check it.

To avoid replacing existing data in cells you are filling using the fill handle, make sure the “Alert before overwriting cells” box is checked, which should be the default. If you don’t want to see the warning dialog, uncheck the box.

Click “OK” to accept the change and close the Excel Options dialog box.

Note that the fill handle displays when you select one or more cells, even when it’s disabled.

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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