5 Pro Tips: Resolve Excel Flash Fill Not Working Issue Easily!

In Microsoft Excel, Flash Fill is an excellent feature that stands out as a time-saving for automating repetitive data entry and improving efficiency. Occasionally, users encounter an annoying issue where Excel Flash Fill not working or fails to recognize patterns correctly. In this article, I will unravel the mysteries behind this problem and troubleshooting steps to overcome flash fill not working in Excel seamlessly.

So, let’s get started…

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Quick Fixes:

What is Flash Fill in Microsoft Excel?

In Excel, Flash Fill is a feature for automating repetitive data entry & manipulation tasks, improving efficiency, and reducing the chances of errors. Though it’s available in Excel 2013 & later versions including Excel for Office 365.

Fix Excel Flash Fill Not Recognizing Pattern

On the other hand, we can say, it is a powerful utility for quickly transforming & cleaning up data in Excel without the requirement of complex formulas or manual editing.

The main purpose of Flash Fill is to save your time and effort when working with large datasets.

What is Required for Flash Fill to Work?

Flash Fill helps automate the method of separating or combining data in the column based on the patterns you specify. Usually Flash Fill feature starts automatically, and it only requires providing a pattern to work flawlessly.

Why Is Flash Fill Not Showing a Pattern?

The main reason for the Flash Fill option not recognizing patterns in Excel is the human error. Besides, there are some other reasons as well that can lead to this problem, they are as follows:

  • Disabled Flash Fill feature
  • Due to incorrect data format
  • Insufficient data in Excel or a corrupted document
  • Complex patterns or hidden blank column
  • If you’re using an older version of Excel, you may not take advantage of Flash Fill feature.

As you have known the major factors for flash fill not working in Excel or not recognizing pattern, now let’s proceed to get rid of it.

Also Read: Fix Excel Not Recognizing Numbers in Cells

How to Fix Excel Flash Fill Not Working Issue?

Just follow the below step-by-step methods to troubleshoot this problem successfully.

Way 1: Enable the Option “Automatically Flash Fill”

As mentioned in the causes, disabling the Flash Fill feature can trigger flash fill not recognizing pattern problems. However, enabling an Automatic Flash Fill option can assist you to tackle this situation.

Follow the below sequences to enable Automatic Flash Fill option in Excel.

1- Open Microsoft Excel.

2- Then, go to a File tab.

3- After that, choose the Options (you can see in the left window).


4- Select Advanced (from the Excel Options window) and there you have to check an option “Automatically Flash Fill” > Click OK.

Automatically Flash Fill

5- Now, return to the dataset and apply the Flash Fill.

If this method doesn’t work for you, try the next one.

Way 2: Confirm the Data Format in Worksheet

Another workaround that you can try to troubleshoot this problem is to check if your data is properly formatted & consistent. Though, the Flash Fill feature works best when the data is organized in a recognizable pattern. Make sure that the data in a preceding column is properly formatted to establish the pattern for Flash Fill to follow.

Way 3: Remove any Hidden Blank Column

As already mentioned in the causes section, a hidden blank column between the two columns can result in Excel flash fill not recognizing pattern issue.

Therefore, it is important to inspect if there is a hidden or missing blank column (C) in between the two columns like B & D. If any is found then simply remove it from the sheet.

Note: Before following the steps of this method, it is recommended to create a backup copy of your Excel file.

Follow the below instructions to delete the hidden rows & columns from an Excel workbook:

  • Open the Excel file, click on File >> click on ‘Info’

Excel Flash Fill Not Recognizing Pattern

  • Then, select ‘Check for Issues’.

Check for Issues

  • After this, click on the option ‘Inspect Document’. This will launch a Document Inspector dialog-box.

Inspect Document

  • In that dialog box, you have to click on ‘Inspect’. This will examine the entire Excel workbook & give you accurate info about your workbook.


  • Now, scroll down to the option ‘Hidden Rows and Columns’. There, you will see the total number of hidden rows & columns that are found in a workbook.


  • Next, click on ‘Remove All’ option.

Remove All

  • Now, all the hidden rows & columns in your Excel workbook will be deleted.

In case, there’re no missing columns or rows, you would see a green tick before a Hidden Rows and Columns option (in a Document Inspector box).

Also Read: Excel Formulas Not Working Errors

Way 4: Update MS Excel to Fix Excel Flash Fill Not Working

If none of the above-mentioned fixes worked for you, try updating the outdated Excel version to the latest version. This will surely help you to troubleshoot this problem in a hassle-free manner.

For updating the Excel, follow these steps carefully:

1- Go to Start then type in Microsoft Excel in a search bar.

2- Then, choose Account option from a left side pane.

3- After this, click on Update Options.

Update Now

4- From the context menu, select “Update Now”.

Now, Microsoft will directly install the Office updates if any are available.

What if Nothing Worked for You?

If the above workarounds are unable to fix flash fill not recognizing pattern in Excel, it might be possible that your Excel file is itself corrupted. In such a situation, you must go for advanced Excel Repair Software.

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Tips to Prevent Pattern Recognition Problems

Follow the below precautionary tips to avoid future Flash Fill issues.

Keeping Excel Software Updated

It is vital to regularly update the Excel software to access the latest features and improvements.

Consistent Formatting of Data

Preserve a standardized tactic for data formatting to enable accurate pattern recognition by Excel’s Flash Fill feature.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is an Excel Command That Recognizes a Pattern and Duplicates It?

Flash Fill is an Excel command that recognizes a pattern and duplicates it.

Where Do I Find Flash Fill in Excel?

You can find Flash Fill in MS Excel by navigating to the Data tab >> Flash Fill in the Data Tools section.

How Do I Enable Flash Fill in Excel?

You can enable flash fill in Excel by following the below steps:

  • Open Excel then go to File tab >> Options.
  • Next, click on the Advanced option that you can see in the left pane.
  • Now, make sure that the Automatically Flash Fill checkbox is marked >> click OK.
  • Finally, close & restart Excel.

Is Flash Fill Available in Excel 2010?

No, Flash Fill is not available in Excel 2010 and below versions. This feature is available in Excel 2013 & later versions of Excel.

What Is the Shortcut for Flash Fill in Excel 2016?

Ctrl + E is the shortcut for Flash Fill in Excel 2016.

Also Read: Fix Excel Not Recognizing Date Format

Time to Conclude

So, now you must have understood what is Flash Fill in Excel, why does Excel Flash Fill not recognizing pattern, and how you can fix this issue by selecting the accurate solution as per your data.

Last but not least, now you can use the Flash Fill feature in MS Excel without any problem.

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Priyanka is a content marketing expert. She writes tech blogs and has expertise in MS Office, Excel, and other tech subjects. Her distinctive art of presenting tech information in the easy-to-understand language is very impressive. When not writing, she loves unplanned travels.