Using the “unique” filter in Excel via keyboard to remove duplicate items from a list

Suppose someone gives you long list of names, and your job is to find only the unique ones. (For example, if “John Smith” is listed twice, suppose you want to create a new list where John Smith is only listed once.)

This is a job for Excel’s advanced filters, and you don’t need a mouse. Follow these steps.

  1. In Excel, create a new worksheet. (Ctrl+N can help on that last part.)
  2. If your data doesn’t have a heading row, put a header such as “Names” in cell A1. (Type in the header and press Enter.)
  3. Right below the header, paste your data into Excel. (Remember you can use Ctrl+V to paste.)
  4. With your cursor somewhere within the list, press Alt+D to open the Data menu, then press F to select the Filter command, then press A to choose the Advanced Filter command. The Advanced Filter dialog box appears.
  5. Press Alt+O to select the second radio button option, “Copy to another location.”
  6. Press Alt+T to select the “Copy to” entry, and type in the cell location you want, such as “b1” for cell B1.
  7. Press Alt+R to select the checkbox option for “Unique records only.”
  8. That’s it! Press Enter to select OK.

[Screenshot of Excel showing advanced filter options to filter for unique items only

A new list appears in cell B1 (or whatever cell you selected in step 6), in the same order as the original list — except with any duplicate entries completely removed.

[Screenshot of Excel showing the results of the advanced filter options to filter for unique items only

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