How to Delete All Empty Rows and Columns in Google Sheets

Google Sheets is similar to Microsoft Excel. Though it can’t directly compete with every feature of Microsoft’s legacy application, Sheets holds its own as a powerful spreadsheet tool capable of balancing budgets, performing equations, and keeping track of data in real-time.

Many of Excel’s features are replicated or mirrored inside Sheets, making it easy to make the switch from Microsoft’s productivity suite to Google’s own offerings. Users with basic spreadsheets (those without custom macros or design elements) can in fact just directly import their Excel files into Sheets without any problems or glitches.

One problem that spreadsheet users have had is that in the process of importing and collating data from multiple sources (one of the many tasks that spreadsheets are great at), it is not at all uncommon for random empty cells, rows, and columns to appear inside the document. Although this problem is manageable in smaller sheets, where you can just delete the rows manually, it’s a huge problem when it crops up in larger documents.

However, removing these blank spaces is quick and easy if you know the proper steps. In this article, I will show you how to remove all the empty rows and columns in your Google Sheets document using an auto-filter.

The Simple Method

If you’re trying to delete all of the empty rows below your content you can. To get rid of all the empty columns simply click on the row you’d like to start with and use the following keyboard commands:

Apple – Command + Shift + Down Arrow

PC – Control + Shift + Down Arrow

Once you’ve done this you’ll notice the entire sheet is highlighted. Right-click and select the option to delete all rows. Your finished product will look like this:

You can do the same for all the columns to the right of your data as well. Using the same commands as above, use the Right Arrow, highlight all columns, right-click, and delete. This leaves a much cleaner looking datasheet.

Using the Auto-Filter

Setting Up an Autofilter

Put simply; an auto-filter takes the values inside your Excel columns and turns them into specific filters based on the contents of each cell—or in this case, the lack thereof.

Though originally introduced in Excel 97, auto-filters (and filters in general) have become a massive part of spreadsheet programs, despite the small minority of users who know about and use them.

The auto-filter function can be used for a number of different sorting methods. In fact, they’re powerful enough to sort and push all of the empty cells to the bottom or top of your spreadsheet.

  1. Start by opening up the spreadsheet that contains empty rows and columns you want to remove from your document.
  2. Once the document has opened, add a new row at the very top of your spreadsheet. In the first cell (A1), type whatever name you’d like to use for your filter. This will be the header cell for the filter we’re about to create.
  3. After creating the new row, find the Filter icon in the command row inside Google Sheets. It’s pictured below; its general appearance is similar to an upside-down triangle with a line running out the bottom, like a martini glass.

Clicking this button will create a filter, which will by default highlight a few of your cells in green on the left side of the panel. Because we want this filter to extend to the entirety of our document, click the small drop-down menu next to the filter icon. Here, you’ll see several options for changing your filters. At the top of the list, select “Create new filter view.”

Your Google Sheets panel will extend and turn a dark grey color, along with an entry point for you to insert the parameters of your filter. It’s not critical that you include every single column, but ensure that you’ve included every row and column in your document that contains blank spaces. To be safe, you can just have the filter cover the entirety of your document. To input this into your document, type something like A1:G45, where A1 is the starting cell and G45 is the ending cell. Every cell in between will be selected in your new filter.

Using the Autofilter to Move Blank Cells

This next bit may seem a bit odd because it will be moving and reorganizing your data in a way that seems counterintuitive at best and destructive at worst.

Once your filter has been selected, click the green triple-line icon in the A1 column of your spreadsheet where you set a title earlier. Select “Sort A-Z” from this menu. You’ll see your data move into alphabetical order, beginning with numbers and followed by letters.

The blank spaces, meanwhile, will be pushed to the bottom of your spreadsheet. Continue to resort your spreadsheet column by column until your blank cells have moved to the bottom of the display and you have one solid block of data displayed at the top of Google Sheets. This will likely make your data a confusing, unreadable mess—don’t worry, this will all work out in the end.

Deleting Your Blank Cells

Once your blank cells have been moved to the bottom of your spreadsheet, deleting them is as simple as deleting any other cell. Use your mouse to highlight and select the blank cells on your spreadsheet that have been moved to the bottom of the document.

Depending on the number of blank cells and the working area of your spreadsheet, you might want to zoom out of your display a bit to see more of the surrounding area (most browsers, including Chrome, allow you to zoom by using Ctrl/Cmd and the + and – buttons; you can also hold down Ctrl/Cmd and use the scroll wheel on your mouse or touchpad).

Click and hold to select the surrounding blank cells and drag your mouse across every cell. Or, follow the steps listed above to quickly delete all cells below and to the right of your data.

Once highlighted, simply right-click to delete the blank cells.

Reorganizing Your Spreadsheet

Now that you’ve removed the offending blank cells, you can reorganize your spreadsheet back to normal order. While clicking on that same triple-lined menu button from earlier inside the filter will only allow you to organize in alphabetical or reverse alphabetical order. There is another sort option: turning your auto-filter off.

To do this, click the triangle menu button next to the auto-filter icon inside Sheets. Inside this menu, you’ll see an option for your filter (called “Filter 1,” or whatever number filter you’ve made), as well as an option for “None.” To turn off the filter you applied earlier, simply select “None” from this menu.

Your spreadsheet will return to normal like magic but without the blank cells, you deleted earlier.

With the cells deleted, you can resume reorganizing and adding data back into your spreadsheet. If, for whatever reason, this method causes your data to fall out-of-order, reversing it is as simple as diving into your documents’ history and reverting to an earlier copy.

You can also use the copy and paste function to move your data around easily, without having to deal with hundreds of blank cells blocking your path. This isn’t a perfect solution but it does work to push your data above the mass of blank cells in your document. And at the end of the day, it’s a lot easier than mass-deleting rows one by one.

 

 

9 thoughts on “How to Delete All Empty Rows and Columns in Google Sheets”

Avatar Jaya says:
Is there a formula that copies only data with nonblank cells? That’s what I’m looking for…
Avatar ME says:
Just add filter view, then select “filter by condition” and “is empty” from there, now select all (from top left corner of table) and delete. All that’s left is your data, sorted as they were.
Avatar Farrah J says:
Here’s the easiest way to do it:
1. highlight the row/column you want to begin the delete at (ie i want to delete everything past row F, so i highlight G
2. Click Shift + Command + arrow that points to the direction of the desired deletes
3. Right click to get the “delete highlighted rows”
Boom
Avatar WHITNEY WETHERILL says:
Say you have data in a checkerboard pattern and you need to remove all the empty cells. (By checkerboard, I mean there is data in A1, A3, A5, A7 … and there is data in row 1, row 3, row 5, row 7 …).
(FIRST: make a copy of the sheet you’re working on just in case…)
1: Insert a column on the left. in the new A1 cell, enter a formula that looks at the entire row and if it finds any value in any cell in the row, it writes “x” in the cell. Copy the formula down the entire column of the spreadsheet, then copy/paste special – values only to get rid of the formulas.
2: Sort the sheet on column A. (now your empty rows should be gone).
3: Select and then copy the entire spreadsheet.
4: Paste Special by putting the cursor in A1 and clicking Paste Transposed (in the Edit menu, under Paste Special). Now you have empty rows but no empty columns (your data is reversed but not incorrect).
5: Repeat Steps 1 through 4.
I hope I’ve written this correctly, I just did it and it worked.
Avatar SorinS says:
If you want to delete empty rows below your data:
1. Select the first empty row below the last row that contains data. (By clicking on the number label).
2. Press Ctrl+Shift+DownArrow (This selects all the rows down to the last row).
3. Right click on the selected row labels
4. Select “Delete rows … – …”
That’s it! Hope this has helped you.
Avatar Michelle says:
This! Thank you! I just deleted empty rows 132-1000!
Avatar foo says:
much more helpful than the article, i’ve got to say
Avatar Michael says:
So why not do this filter bit, as suggested, and then choose ‘cell is empty’. Then delete a heap of rows, turn off the filter et voila, the blank cells are gone.
Avatar Martin says:
Not sure if this helps others but, to do this quickly and semi-manually (i.e. without Macros), you can potentially use the autofilter setting to quickly move the blank rows to the bottom end of a data set. Say you have a long single column of entries with some cells blank, some cells full and you want to remove the empty cells so all the data is in one block:

1) insert a row above the data set and, in the cell above the data, enter a title (this will be the header cell for the filter)

2) click the filter button (in Google sheets it looks like a triangle with a flat side at the top and a little line out the bottom)

3) sort by A to Z

4) all your blanks cells will pop to the bottom and you have one block of data

With a data set of a number of columns, you can select and filter the entire data set to remove the blanks and then apply filters again to reorganise the data without the blank cells.

Hope that helps.

Avatar Paul says:
Why did you make this useless article? I have over 300,000 rows. I do not want to delete the empty ones MANUALLY.

What’s next, a tutorial on how to breathe without falling over?

Avatar Vince says:
The reason I Googled this problem is because I didn’t want to do it manually, as I have a LOT of alternating empty rows. This still only explains how to do it manually… :(
Avatar carlos victor says:
hahaha Exactly my case.
Avatar Glenda Ward says:
Same here. I have a sheet using 17 rows and there are 12 empty pages starting on row 18. Manually deleting them is ridiculous.

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