How to Change Tab Color in Excel (3 Easy Ways + Shortcut)

Dear readers, "tab" here refers to a worksheet tab in Excel that is used to select a worksheet and among other options, is used to rename, group, and hide a sheet and even color the tab itself. With Excel set to the regular "Colorful" theme, the following is how worksheet tabs will appear in a file:

How to Change Tab Color in Excel

The active worksheet has a white tab while the other inactive sheets (if any) are the same color as the rest of the workbook (light gray in the mentioned theme). For grouping, categorizing, and organizing worksheets, it is possible to assign colors to the tabs.

This will instantly give the user an idea of what each sheet signifies without having to go through the file sheet by sheet. It is also the only way to make a certain tab prominent other than renaming it as these are the only two visual changes that can be made to a tab.

Let's put together a small example of a workbook with 5 worksheets, split into regional data:

How to Change Tab Color in Excel

The renaming part of the tab is done but let's say we can flag Region D with a red colored tab to draw attention to the worst-performing area. We could also set the best-performing region (let's say Region B) with a green colored tab. Or we could do both as a color code.

Do note that changing the color tab is one of the features unavailable if the workbook is protected. Therefore, if you see that the option for accessing the tab color is grayed out, do check the protection of the workbook.

Learn different ways of changing and removing sheet tab colors for one or more sheets in Excel.

Pull out the crayons. Let's get coloring!

Change Tab Color in Excel

Method #1 – Using Right Click Context Menu

The tab color can be changed in Excel using the right-click context menu. Right-clicking the relevant sheet tab opens up tab options that also contain setting or changing the tab color. This method is quick, distinctly visual in terms of color selection, and completed in a couple of clicks (if choosing a preset color). The following steps will walk you through how to change tab colors with the right-click context menu in Excel:

  • Right-click the sheet tab that you want to change the color of.
  • Point to the Tab Color option in the proceeding context menu.
  • The option will lead to a few sets of preset colors. The No Color option at the bottom of the menu is the current selection as the tab has no color yet.
  • Select a color for the tab.
  • We have chosen the color yellow from the Standard Colors set.
  • Using Right Click Context Menu
  • The chosen color will be set for the active sheet tab in a softer hue:
Using Right Click Context Menu

The softer hue of the selected color is seen in the tab of the active sheet. The color appears solid and in the selected hue when the sheet is inactive:

Using Right Click Context Menu

Couldn't find the color you were looking for? Head to the More Colors option (last in the Tab Color submenu) and choose from the Standard or Custom colors there.

Using Right Click Context Menu

Now you know how to color a sheet tab. Repeat the same steps and color another tab with a different color. For example, let's change the tab color of the Region B sheet to green:

Using Right Click Context Menu

If you want to color each tab differently, you will have to do it as shown above, i.e. one by one. Later we show you how to change the color of multiple tabs together.

Method #2 – Using Home Tab > Format Option

Use the Format menu in the Home tab to change the tab color in Excel. Nearly all of the options present in the sheet tab's right-click context menu can be found in the Cells group in the Home tab, including changing the tab color. Follow the instructions below to set the tab color from the Format options in the Home tab:

  • With this method, the relevant sheet needs to be active for its tab color to be changed. Select the sheet from the sheet tabs under the worksheet area.
  • In our case example, we have kept the first sheet (named Region A) as the active sheet.
  • With the Home tab selected, click on the Format button in the Cells group and hover the cursor on the Tab Color
  • Using Home Tab
  • Select the preferred tab color (yellow in our case).
  • The tab color will be changed immediately.

Method #3 – Using Keyboard Shortcut

A keyboard shortcut can be used in Excel to change the sheet tab color. The shortcut navigates to the Home tab's Tab Color option in the Format menu. The keyboard shortcut for changing the tab color in Excel is:

Alt, H, O, T

The Alt key displays the shortcut keys on the title bar and tabs above the Ribbon.

The H key selects the Home tab.

The O key selects the Format button in the Cells group, opening the drop-down menu.

The T key selects the Tab Color option in the Format menu.

The keys are to be punched in succession, one after the other. The complete steps to apply this keyboard shortcut to change the tab color are given here:

  • First, select the target sheet from the tabs.
  • Now press the Alt, H, O, T keys in succession.
  • This is where you will land, with the Tab Color option selected in the Home tab's Format menu:Using Keyboard Shortcut
  • Select the color of choice using the arrow keys or the mouse. For more colors, press the M
  • We have selected yellow for the tab's color:
Using Keyboard Shortcut

Method #4 – Using VBA

Change the color of a sheet tab using VBA in Excel. VBA is a programming language implementation for MS Office applications. With a user-defined code, we can automate a task in Excel. The code we have for you below will not only color the sheet tab, but it will also search all the sheet names with the provided text and color those sheet tabs in the defined RGB code.

This method and this particular code will be helpful for color coding sheets without having to manually select the group of sheets, especially if there is a large number of sheets in the workbook. Find the code and the details to use VBA to change the tab color below:

  • Open the Developer tab and select the Visual Basic icon from the Code If your Developer tab is disabled, you can use the Alt + F11 keys to open the Visual Basic editor.
  • Using VBA
  • As you can see above, we have added one more worksheet that is named "Price list".
  • When the editor opens, click on the Insert tab and select the Module option to access a Module
  • Using VBA
  • In the Module window, copy-paste the code from below:
  • Sub ChangeTabColor()
    Dim ws As Worksheet
    For Each ws In ThisWorkbook.Worksheets
    If Left(ws.Name, 6) = "Region" Then
    ws.Tab.Color = RGB(255, 255, 0)
    End If
    Next ws
    End Sub

    This code searches all the sheet names for the 6 characters at the beginning of each name, that is "Region" in this case. For every sheet that begins with this text, VBA will change the color of the tab to yellow (given in the RGB color code as "255, 255, 0").Edit the code for your Excel application. Replace "Region" in the 4th line of the code with the initial text in the sheet names that you are aiming for (enclosed in double quotes). Count those characters and replace the number 6 in the same line with the character count of your text. E.g., searching for the text "sales" would make the 4th of the code:If Left(ws.Name, 5) = "sales" ThenAdd the corresponding RGB color code in the 5th line for the color that you want for the tabs. In this case, we could also replace RGB(255, 255, 0) in the 5th line of the code with vbYellow to get the same result. But there are only 7 vbColors that you can apply. For other colors and specific hues, you can use RGB or ColorIndex.Using VBA

  • When the code is set, click on the Run button (highlighted above) or use the F5 key to run the code.
  • The tab colors will change as soon as the code is run.
  • Close the Visual Basic

And here you have the color of all the tabs with the starting name as "Region" changed to yellow.

Using VBA

Evidently, the last tab's color has not been changed by the code as the sheet name is "Price list" and doesn't begin with the text "Region". So what if the sheet names aren't common but you want to change them to the same color anyway? You do not have to do them one by one. Read more below.

Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs

The tab color of any sheets of your choice can be changed simultaneously to a single color. They will not need to have any initial text in common. Change the color of multiple sheets tabs by selecting a group of sheets and applying the setting once.

There's a slight difference in the way sheets are selected as you can select adjacent, non-adjacent, or all sheets. See how to do each of these further in this section.

Adjacent Sheets

If the sheets that you are about to select are all lined up together, you can select them all from one end to the other with the Shift key. In our case example, let's say we want to select the first 3 sheets, Regions A to C.

  • Select the first sheet of the consecutive tabs (i.e. Region A for us).
  • Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs
  • Hold down the Shift key and click on the last sheet of the group of tabs (Region C in this case).
  • All the sheets from the first selection to the last will be selected.
  • Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs
  • Now that these sheet tabs are part of a selected group, we can proceed to change the tab color.
  • Right-click any tab of the group and use the Tab Color option to add colors to the grouped sheet tabs.
Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs

The selected consecutive tabs will be colored in the chosen shade:

Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs

Note: Remember to ungroup the selected sheets by clicking on an ungrouped sheet's tab! If you don't know why you should do this, read about grouping sheets here.

Non-adjacent Sheets

Multiple tabs don't have to be adjacent to be colored together. A sheet group can also be formed of non-adjacent sheets. Instead of the Shift key, you'll use the Ctrl key to make the selection.

With our case example, let's say we want to select the first and third sheets (Regions A and C). This is what we will have to do:

  • Select a sheet from the intended group.
  • We have activated the first sheet, Region A.
  • Press and hold the Ctrl key and use the mouse to select all the other sheet tabs.
  • We have selected the Region C sheet with the Ctrl key pressed.
  • The non-adjacent sheets will be selected to form a disjointed group.
  • Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs
  • Change the tab color by right-clicking any grouped sheet and selecting a color from the Tab Color
Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs

This changes the tab colors of the non-adjacent sheets.

All Sheets

Before heading to the Tab Color option in the right-click menu, use the last option to select all the sheets first. In a step-wise manner, here's what you have to do:

  • Right-click any sheet tab in the workbook and then click on the Select All Sheets
  • Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs
  • All the worksheets will be selected.
  • Right-click any sheet tab again and add a color to all the selected tabs from the Tab Color
Change Color of Multiple Sheet Tabs

All the sheets in the workbook will carry the same tab color.

Remove Sheet Tab Color

Let's say you want one, some, or all sheets out of the color code. For that, you will have to remove the sheet tab's color and luckily, it's as easy as adding colors. In the example case below, all the sheet tabs are colored yellow. With the steps mentioned ahead, we will remove the tab color of the first sheet.

Remove Sheet Tab Color
  • Right-click the sheet tab you want to remove the color from.
  • Point to Tab Color and select No Color from the submenu.
  • Remove Sheet Tab Color
  • The color of the tab will be removed instantly.
Remove Sheet Tab Color


The keyboard shortcut for removing the tab color is Alt, H, O, T, N with the concerned sheet active.

As shown in the previous section, the tab color can be removed from multiple sheets, depending on the selection.

We've covered different methods of changing tab colors of a single sheet and multiple sheets and also how to remove tab colors. Think of it as zoomed out organizing. And now we'll zoom out so we can grab another organizing device for your Excel mayhem. Ready? Tricky? Go!

About Mehwish Javaid

Mehwish, an ACCA-qualified professional, transitioned from an audit trainee to an Excel specialist. With a foundation in financial auditing, her 4+ years of Excel expertise, showcased as a Content Specialist at ExcelTrick, bridges her auditing background with advanced spreadsheet skills. Read more...