Microsoft Excel: Taking the Pain Out of Freezing Panes

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By David H. Ringstrom, CPA

Freezing or unfreezing worksheet panes typically involves multiple mouse clicks, but I'll show you a way to carry out this task with a single keystroke. For the uninitiated, freezing panes allows you to lock in place columns or rows that you specify along the left-hand and/or top of Excel's worksheet area. As you scroll to the right or down, the frozen columns or rows remain in place so that you can always view worksheet headings or the initial columns. When you no longer need the rows or columns locked in place, you in turn can unfreeze them.
To carry out this task in Excel 2007 and later, as shown in Figure 1, first click on the worksheet position you wish to freeze. Next, go to the View tab, click on Freeze Panes, and then make a selection from the submenu, such as Freeze Panes. 
Figure 1: An example of freezing panes on a worksheet.
As shown in Figure 2, a thin black bar appears below a set of frozen rows, and to the right of any frozen columns. To unlock the rows or columns, navigate to the View tab, choose Freeze Panes, and then Unfreeze Panes. It's a little simpler in Excel 2003: choose Window, and then Freeze Panes or Window, and then Unfreeze Panes, respectively.
Figure 2: Thin black lines indicate frozen rows and/or columns.
Regardless, you streamline this process down to a simple keystroke of your choice in Excel 2007 and later. To do so, as shown in Figure 3, right-click on the View tab in Excel, and then choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar to display the Excel options window. Select Commands Not in the Ribbon, and then scroll down the resulting list until you find Freeze Sheet Panes. Either double-click on this command, or click once on it and click Add to add it to your Quick Access Toolbar. If you frequently freeze and unfreeze sheet panes, use the arrows on the right-hand side to move the Freeze Sheet Panes command so that it's the first command on the list. Click OK to close the Excel Options dialog box.
Figure 3: Add Freeze Sheet Panes to your Quick Access Toolbar
Once you've placed the command on your Quick Access Toolbar, you can now press the Alt key to reveal the numeric shortcut for the Freeze Sheet Panes command. If you made it the first command on the list, you can now press Alt-1 to freeze or unfreeze sheet panes.  You must still position your cursor as before when freezing panes, but you can bypass navigating through the View tab and the resulting Freeze Panes submenu.
Excel 2003 users can also give themselves one-click access to freezing/unfreezing panes, sans keyboard shortcut. As shown in Figure 4, choose Tools, Customize, and then click on the Commands tab. Choose Window, and then drag the Freeze Panes command either onto an existing toolbar, or to Excel's menu bar, into the unused space adjacent to the Help menu.
Figure 4: Excel 2003 users can arrange one-click access to the Freeze Panes command.
Read more articles by David Ringstrom. 
About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.



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Hi, what if i want to freeze S1:Y17 and A:R is hidden and for Z and onwards only want to freeze top 2 rows. is it possible?

If I understand correctly, you want to see cells S1:Y17, but also simultaneously be able to only freeze the first two rows of for columns Z and onward. The only way I can think to approximate this functionality is to create a new window in Excel by way of the View tab in Excel 2007 and later or the Window menu in Excel 2003 and earlier. Use the adjacent Arrange command to arrange the windows side by side, either horizontally or vertically. You can then freeze the panes independently in each window, but you'll be able to view two different sections of the same worksheet at the same time

Hi David.

I would like to freeze multiple sheets. Any idea how can i do it

You can only use the Freeze Panes command on one worksheet at a time. You can go from sheet to sheet to apply the freeze though. The only way to freeze multiple sheets in one step is by creating a macro that loops through each sheet in the workbook, positions the cursor in the desired position, and then freezes the panes.

Thank you

You're welcome! I'm glad you found my article helpful.

THIS IS AWESOMEEE!!! Thank you so much!

Thanks, Nikki! It's one of my favorite Excel tricks.

what is the shortcut key of freeZe panes???

Once you add the icon to your Quick Access Toolbar in the fashion I described above and close all dialog boxes, press the Alt key to reveal the keyboard shortcut. If you haven't modified the QAT in the past then the shortcut will be Alt-4, but if you've added other icons the shortcut number will differ.

I have an Excel spreadsheet on a network share that is accessed by multiple users. This excel spreadsheet has frozen panes in it, but unfortunately frozen pane is not working for one user. Can you help me?


Isolated problems that occur on one machine but not others are really tough to diagnose without seeing the computer first hand. With that said, I'd first try deleting all of the temporary files as shown below. If that doesn't resolve it, I'd uninstall and then reinstall Microsoft Office on that computer, and then ensure that all of the service packs have been installed.


Hi David
I want to freeze a row in the middle of a sheet but have the rows above it and below it to scroll together. Is this possible?

It is indeed, but the steps are very nuanced. I've written up an article on this that will walk you through it step-by-step. I'll post a link here as soon as it's published, which should be later this week. The quick answer is that you'll use the New Window command to create 3 windows, and then use the View Side by Side command to link the two windows that you want to scroll. The article will go through the steps in slow, deliberate fashion.

Here's the link to the article I promised that provides step-by-step instructions:

Thank you, sir. Funny how simple it is yet it frustrated the hell out of me.

Joe, that sums up most people's experience with Excel in a nutshell. Excel has so many nuances that can make "simple" tasks become difficult if you don't know the back story to the some of features. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!.

I am doing the first method, choosing the cell below and to the right. But excel seems to deciding on tis own where tofreeze. It is freezing the propoer column but freezing a row in the middle of the document that was not selected.

That should not be happening. Two things to try: 1. reboot your computer and see if that resolves the problem. 2. Try the technique in a different workbook. There could be some sort of corruption in the workbook you're using. Let me know your findings if neither works. You may also be missing a service pack (bug fixes) for your version of Excel.

I have a Freeze Top row. But when i scroll down i want a row 100 to freeze while i a scroll down to it. I mean if i scrolling prior to row 100 i should see only top row freeze. If i scroll down further row 100 should come to the top and then freeze. On further scrolling down i should still see both row 1 and row 100 freezed.

This is as close as I can get you: What you're asking for it's a feature in Excel, although you might be able to pull something off if you're able to create a macro in VBA.

thx for your great and clear scheme. very instructive.

I've just added a feature to FormulaDesk, my free Excel add-in, that allows you to freeze any combination of columns and/or rows and display them on the right (for frozen columns) or the bottom (for frozen rows).

More details (and free download) are here: