Microsoft Excel is a deep program rich in features and functionality. One of the most powerful features of Excel is the ability to write programs in Visual Basic for Applications that run "behind" your worksheets to turn Excel into a calculation-oriented development platform for creating special purpose spreadsheets which can function as applications in their own right.

Service Pack


A service pack (in short SP) is a collection of updates, fixes or enhancements to a software program delivered in the form of a single installable package.

A service pack can be incremental, which means it only contains the updates that were not present in the previous service packs or, it can be cumulative, which means it includes the contents of all its predecessors. In the case of Microsoft's products, an incremental update was called a service release. For example, Office 2000 must be upgraded to service release 1 (SR-1) before one can install SP2.

Macro Security


Macro security settings are located in the Trust Center. However, if you work in an organization, your system administrator might have changed the default settings to prevent anyone from changing any settings and execute macros.

Macro Recording


A great way of learning about Excel VBA is using its macro recording function. With the function, you tell Excel to start recording, then perform various steps as if you were working without a macro recorder, and finally, tell Excel to stop recording. VBA code corresponding to what you did using Excel GUI has been recorded by Excel. While the code often cannot be meaningfully used without a modification, by starting from it and modifying it you can save a lot of time that would otherwise be spent reading the VBA documentation.

Menu paths:

  • Excel 2000, 2003: Tools > Macro > Record New Macro.
  • Excel 2007: View (tab) > Macros (group) > down-pointing triangle below Macros button > Record Macro
  • Excel 2007: Developer (tab) > Code (group) > Record Macro


Enabling Developer tab


Developer tab allows you to insert various user interface controls such as buttons. In order to use it, you first have to enable it.

Menu paths to enable the tab:

  • Excel 2007: round Office button > Excel Options (button at bottom) > Popular > Show Developer tab in the Ribbon (check box)
  • Excel 2010: File (tab) > Options (button) > Customize Ribbon (button) > Developer (check box)


Making an XLA


An XLA is one way to make a VBA code-library. It's basically just a normal spreadsheet(.xls file) but has its worksheets hidden. Here's how to create a new one:

  • New Workbook
  • Save-As ...Name it whatever
  • Hit Alt-F11
  • In the Project-tree, select VBAProject(whatever.xls)/ThisWorkbook
  • Hit F4 to get Properties View
  • Find Property IsAddin and set to True
  • Hit Save
  • Close Excel
  • Rename whatever.xls to whatever.xla

Alternatively, you can use Save As / Excel AddIn.

Accessing the Registry

  • Works on: Microsoft Excel 2002 SP-2

This recipe is for reading/writing keys local to your application—this is to provide persistent settings for your VBA app. It does not cover arbitrary access to the Registry (i.e. looking at any key).

The VBA sub/functions are SaveSetting and GetSetting. You can type the following into the Immediate window to get a feel for how these work:

SaveSetting "MyApplicationName", "MyConfigSection", "MyKeyName", "Hello World"
MsgBox GetSetting("MyApplicationName", "MyConfigSection", "MyKeyName")

If you want to iterate over all keys in a given section you can do so as follows:

Sub ShowAllKeys()
   Dim mySettings As Variant
   mySettings = GetAllSettings("MyApplicationName", "MyConfigSection")
   If Not IsEmpty(MySettings) Then
      Dim counter As Integer
      For counter = LBound(mySettings) To UBound(mySettings)
          Dim keyname As String: keyname = mySettings(counter, 0)
          Dim keyval As String: keyval = mySettings(counter, 1)
          MsgBox keyname & "=" & keyval
   End If
End Sub

You can also delete a registry key as follows:

DeleteSetting "MyApplicationName", "MyConfigSection", "MyKeyName"

FYI: Excel/VBA sticks this in the following registry location:

MyComputer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\VB and VBA Program Settings\MyApplicationName\MyConfigSection

...where MyApplication and MyConfigSection are whatever you specified in your SaveSettings call.

They end up in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\VB and VBA Program Settings\MyApplicationName\MyConfigSection.

Prevent Confirmation Popups In Excel

  • Works on: Microsoft Excel 2002 SP-2

Make the following call from VBA:

Application.DisplayAlerts = False

Making Cells Read-Only

  • Works on: Microsoft Excel 2002 SP-2
Sub ProtectMe()
  Range("A1:IV65536").Locked = False
  Range("A1").Locked = True
  ActiveSheet.Protect Password:="Test"
End Sub

Finding Non-Empty Portion of Worksheet


A Worksheet has a maximum size of 65536 rows by 256 columns. However if you want to iterate over all cells you probably don't want to visit all of the empty ones. For this purpose the Worksheet provides the UsedRange property. For example:


tells you how many non-empty rows are in the given worksheet. Empty rows which are in between the first and last used row are counted as well. Example: If a given Worksheet has entries in cells A7 and B16, used range is considered to be A7:B16, which counts for a total of 10 rows.

Using Events

  • Works on: Microsoft Excel 2002 SP-2

Consider the following class definition—Assume its a class called CMyClass:

Option Explicit
Dim WithEvents mySheet As Worksheet

Public Sub Init(aWS as Worksheet)
   Set MySheet = aWS
End Sub

Private Sub mySheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
   Dim MyRange As Range
   For Each MyRange in Target
      Debug.Print CStr(MyRange)
End Sub

The main ideas here are:

  • By declaring mySheet WithEvents, you're saying that CMyClass is listening to mySheet's events.
  • By declaring the member sub mySheet_SelectionChange you're indicating how an instance of CMyClass should react if mySheet experiences a selection change (i.e. the user selects a new cell or range of cells); The general pattern for events is sub memberVarName_EventName(params).
  • You can disconnect the eventing between the given worksheet and CMyClass by setting mySheet = nothing;
  • You can create classes that throw events of your design using:
    • You would declare at the top of the class: Public Event SomeNiceEventName(YourFavoriteParam1 as WhateverType, etc...),
    • You could then raise that event (i.e. firing it to whatever listeners your class has) using RaiseEvent SomeNiceEvent("Some nice event happened.");
  • VBA in Excel doesn't like the letters r or c used as variables. Those letters mean 'row' and 'column' elsewhere.

A little more detail is given here: [1]

Caveat: Uncaught Exceptions


Caveat: Uncaught exceptions in event-handlers cause VBE to mysteriously reset. If you are causing an uncaught exception in an event-handler, you probably won't get an error popup. Instead, VBE will just reset. For this reason you should make sure you're catching exceptions in all of your event handlers.

Caveat: Online-Help Typos


Some versions of Excel can have typos in the F1-help. Here's an example of a Click handler with the correct parameters:

 Private Sub clicksrc_Click(ByVal Ctrl As Office.CommandBarButton, CancelDefault As Boolean)
    MsgBox "I got a click!"
 End Sub

Iterating Over MultiSelected Cells

  • Works on: Microsoft Excel 2002 SP-2

The following code-snippet writes "YAY!" in each cell selected by the user:

For Each Cell in Selection
   Cell.Value = "YAY!"

Exporting VBA Code

  • Works on Microsoft Excel 2002 SP-2

The following code provides a very primitive routine to write serializes the VBA code in your modules to files:

Option Explicit
Private Sub Workbook_BeforeSave(ByVal SaveAsUI As Boolean, Cancel As Boolean)
  Dim objModule As Object
  On Error Resume Next
  For Each objModule In ThisWorkbook.VBProject.VBComponents
    If objModule.CodeModule.CountOfLines > 0 Then
      objModule.Export objModule.Name & ".bas"
    End If
  Next objModule

End Sub

Resize a Named Range

  • Excel 2003

Note that the Resize property of Range objects does not change the size of the range object. It returns a new anonymous Range object. Easiest way to do this is to set the .Name property of the Resized range:

Sub ResizeRange(ByVal RangeName As String, _
                Optional NewRowCount As Long = 0, _
                Optional NewColumnCount As Long = 0)
  Dim oRange As Range
  Set oRange = Range(RangeName)
  If NewRowCount = 0 Then
    NewRowCount = oRange.Rows.Count
  End If
  If NewColumnCount = 0 Then
    NewColumnCount = oRange.Columns.Count
  End If
  oRange.Resize(NewRowCount, NewColumnCount).Name = RangeName
End Sub

Creating a Named Range

  • Excel 2002

Named Ranges allow the user to refer to a cell or range of cells by name instead of by their cell address. This name can be used in other cell formulas as well as in VBA (e.g. using the [SomeName]). There are two sorts of named ranges: Workbook Names and Worksheet Names.

To create a Workbook Name you can select the cell you want to name, pull down Insert-->Name-->Define... This will bring up the "Define Name" dialog. Here you can enter the new name for your cell.

The create a Worksheet Name you follow the same procedure but precede the name with Sheetname!, e.g. Sheet1!InitialValue to create a named-range only visible from within worksheet Sheet1.

When there are two variables with the same name, one local (Worksheet Name) and one global (Workbook Name), the spreadsheet uses the local variable.

There is no way to visualize a named range. The closest thing is to pull down again Insert-->Name-->Define..., but this method does not show if a variable is a local Worksheet Name or a global Workbook Name.

The named range can be a single cell, part of a row, part of a column or a rectangular group of cells. Each one behaves differently:

  • A single cell can be referenced anywhere in the worksheet or, if it's defined globally (workbook name), anywhere in any worksheet.
  • A group of cells composing part of a row can only be referenced in a parallel row. For example, if the named variable is mass and it spans the cells C5:L5, then a reference to mass' at cell E8 (say, a formula like =mass * (3e8)^2) would take the value at C8, but a reference to mass at cell M9 would return an error
  • Similarly, a group of cells composing part of a column can only be referenced in a parallel column. Cells outside the range will return an error
  • A group of cells that define a rectangular array of sides greater than one is only useful to be referenced in other worksheets - so, there's no point in defining them locally (worksheet name). For example, if covmatrix are the cells Sheet1!B2:D4, then if cell Sheet2!C3 has the formula =1/sqrt(covmatrix), then it will return 1/sqrt(Sheet1!C3).

Reading a File


Reading a file line by line AKA for each line of a file:

  MyFileName = "C:\Users\Joe\Desktop\File.txt"
  FileNo = FreeFile()
  Open MyFileName For Input As #FileNo
  While Not EOF(FileNo)
    Line Input #FileNo, MyLine
    MsgBox MyLine
  Close #FileNo


  • Open at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,
  • Close at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,
  • Line Input at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,

Writing to a File


Writing to a file:

  MyFileName = "C:\Users\Joe\Desktop\File.txt"
  FileNo = FreeFile()
  Open MyFileName For Output As #FileNo
  For I = 1 To 10
    Print #FileNo, Str(I);
    ' The semicolon above prevents printing of a newline
  Close #FileNo

Writing the tab-separated content of the current worksheet to a text file, disregarding some of cell content formatting such as percentages:

  MyFileName = "C:\Users\Joe\Desktop\File.txt"
  FileNo = FreeFile()
  Open MyFileName For Output As #FileNo
  RowCount = ActiveSheet.UsedRange.Cells.Rows.Count
  ColumnCount = ActiveSheet.UsedRange.Cells.Columns.Count
  For RowNo = 1 To RowCount
    For ColNo = 1 To ColumnCount
      Print #FileNo, Cells(RowNo, ColNo); ' The semicolon bars newline printing
      If ColNo < ColumnCount Then
        Print #FileNo, vbTab;
      End If
    If RowNo < RowCount Then
      Print #FileNo, vbNewline;
    End If
  Close #FileNo


  • Open at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,
  • Close at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,
  • Print # at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,

File Existence


Testing whether a file exists:

  If Dir(MyFileName) <> "" Then
    MsgBox "The file exists."
  End If



Making a directory:

  MkDir "C:\Users\Joe\Desktop\TestFolder"

Removing a directory:

  RmDir "C:\Users\Joe\Desktop\TestFolder"

Changing to a directory:

  ChDir "C:\Users"

Changing the current drive:

  ChDrive "C:"

Listing the content of a directory, using a custom filter encompassing two file extensions:

Directory = "C:\Users\Joe Hoe\"
Set Files = New Collection
Set FileFullPaths = New Collection
MyFile = Dir(Directory)
While MyFile <> ""
  Extension = LCase(Right(MyFile, 4))
  If Extension = ".txt" Or Extension = ".bat" Then
    Files.Add MyFile
    FileFullPaths.Add Directory & MyFile
  End If
  MyFile = Dir() 'Next file or folder


  • ChDir at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,
  • ChDrive at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,
  • Dir at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,
  • MkDir at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,
  • RmDir at Visual Basic for Applications Reference,



Searching for a regular expression in the lines of the files of a directory aka grepping:

Directory = "C:\Users\Joe Hoe\"
PatternString = "target.*path"
MyFile = Dir(Directory)
Set Lines = New Collection
Set RegExp = CreateObject("VBScript.RegExp")
RegExp.Pattern = PatternString
RegExp.IgnoreCase = True
While MyFile <> ""
  Extension = LCase(Right(MyFile, 4))
  If Extension = ".txt" Or Extension = ".bat" Then
    MyFullFileName = Directory & MyFile
    FileNo = FreeFile()
    Open MyFullFileName For Input As #FileNo
    While Not EOF(FileNo)
      Line Input #FileNo, MyLine
      If RegExp.Test(MyLine) Then
        Lines.Add MyLine
      End If
    Close #FileNo
  End If
  MyFile = Dir() 'Next file or folder
'Lines is a collection of the matching lines



Prerequisites: Accessing the clipboard from an Excel sheet requires that a reference to MSForms (Microsoft Forms Object Library) is set in the sheet. You can set the reference by adding and subsequent removing of a user form, via Insert > UserForm in a pop-up menu. To check the presence of a reference, see Tools > References menu.

Placing text on the clipboard:

Set MyClipboard = New MSForms.DataObject
MyClipboard.SetText "My string"

Getting text from the clipboard:

Set MyClipboard = New MSForms.DataObject
TextContent = MyClipboard.GetText


  • DataObject Class at; contains a section on Visual Basic, whose applicability to Excel VBA is unclear



A range is a set of cells. The cells in a range do not need to be adjacent. However, the cells in a single range do need to belong to a single worksheet.

Defining a new range:

Set MyRange = Selection 'The current selection, possibly of multiple cells
Set MyRange = ActiveCell 'The single active cell
Set MyRange = Cells(1, 2) 'Row=1, Column=2 AKA B
Set MyRange = Cells(1, 1).Offset(0, 1) '=Cells(1, 2)
Set MyRange = Cells(1, 2).Offset(0, -1) '=Cells(1, 1)
Set MyRange = Cells(1, 1).Offset(0, -1) 'An error
Set MyRange = Range("A1:C2") 'Letters indicate columns; numbers indicate rows
Set MyRange = Range("A1:A3,C1:C3") 'A discontinuous range
Set MyRange = Range("B2:C2").Cells(1, 1) '=Cells(2, 2) =Range("B2")
Set MyRange = Rows(1) 'An entire row
Set MyRange = Columns(1) 'An entire column
Set MyRange = Cells(2,2).EntireRow
Set MyRange = Cells(2,2).EntireColumn
Set MyRange = Range("B1:C1").EntireColumn 'Two entire columns
Set MyRange = Range("B2:D4").End(xlUp) '=Cells(1, 2) =Range("B1")
Set MyRange = Range("B2:D4").End(xlToLeft) '=Cells(2, 1) = Range("A2")
Set MyRange = Range("B2:D4").End(xlDown) '=Cells(<last row number>, 2)
Set MyRange = Range("B2:D4").End(xlToRight) '=Cells(2, <last column number>)

Iterating a range AKA for each cell in a range:

Set MyRange = Selection
For Each Cell in MyRange
  MsgBox Cell

Iterating rows and iterating columns AKA for each row of a range and for each column of a range, even if discontiguous:

Set Rng = Range("A1:B1,D3:E3") 'Discontiguous range
For Each Row In Rng.Rows
  RowNo = Row.Row
For Each Column In Rng.Columns
  ColNo = Column.Column

Making an union (a range subsuming both) or intersection (a range covering only cells in common) of two ranges:

Set MyRange = Range("A1:C2")
Set MyRange = Union(MyRange, Range("A5:C5"))
MyRange.Interior.Color = RGB(230, 230, 0)
Set MyRange = Intersect(MyRange, Columns(2))
MyRange.Interior.Color = RGB(230, 100, 0)

Selecting a range:

Set MyRange = Sheets(1).Range("A1:B1,D1:E1")
MyRange.Select 'Even a discontinuous range can be selected

Activating a cell:

Range("A1:B2").Select 'Affects Selection, generally of multiple cells
Range("A2").Activate 'Affects ActiveCell, the single one

Finding out about a range AKA learning about a range, including the number of cells AKA cell count, the first row, the last row, the first column, the last column, row count, and column count:

Set Rng = Range("B2:D4") 'Contiguous range
NumberOfCells = Rng.Cells.Count
FirstRowNo = Rng.Row
LastRowNo = Rng.Row + Rng.Rows.Count - 1 'Only for contiguous ranges
FirstColNo = Rng.Column
LastColNo = Rng.Column + Rng.Columns.Count - 1 'Only for contiguous ranges

Set Rng = Range("A1:B1,D1:E1") 'Discontiguous range
BrokenLastColNo = Rng.Column + Rng.Columns.Count - 1 'Only for contiguous ranges
'Do it the correct way for discontiguous range
LastColNo = 0
For Each Cell in Rng
  If Cell.Column > LastColNo then
    LastColNo = Cell.Column
  End If

Set RangeWorksheet = Rng.Worksheet




To create, access, or delete worksheets, you can use the methods of Worksheet objects. Examples follow.

Set MyNewWorksheet = Sheets.Add 'Create
Set MyNewWorksheet2 = Sheets.Add(After:=Sheets(Sheets.Count)) 'Create and place as the last sheet
MyNewWorksheet.Name = "My Sheet"
Set IndexedWorksheet = Sheets(1) 'Access by index
Set NamedWorksheet = Sheets("Name") 'Access by name
Set NamedWorksheet2 = Worksheets("Name") 'Does the same thing as the line above
Sheets("Name").Cells(1,1) = "New Value" 'Access the cells of the worksheet
Sheets("Name").Cells.Clear 'Clear an entire worksheet, including formatting and cell values
Sheets("Name").Columns(1).Sort key1:=Sheets("Name").Range("A1") 'Sort the first column
Sheets("Name").Columns(1).Sort key1:=Sheets("Name").Range("A1"), _
  order1:=xlDescending, header:=xlYes 'Use descending instead of ascending; do not sort
                                      ' the first cell, considering it a header
MyNewWorksheet2.Visible = xlSheetHidden
MyNewWorksheet2.Visible = xlSheetVisible

Obtaining an existing sheet by name or creating it if it does not exist:

NewSheetName = "My Sheet"
Set MySheet = Nothing
On Error Resume Next
Set MySheet = Sheets(NewSheetName)
On Error GoTo 0
If MySheet Is Nothing Then
  Set MySheet = Sheets.Add(After:=Sheets(Sheets.Count))
  MySheet.Name = NewSheetName
End If




You can search for values in a sheet as follows:

Dim SoughtString As String
SoughtString = "London"
Set ForeignKeySheet = Sheets("CitySize")
Set FoundCell = ForeignKeySheet.Columns(1).Find(SoughtString, LookAt:=xlWhole)
If Not FoundCell Is Nothing Then
  'The value associated with the key is in column 2
  CitySize = FoundCell.Offset(0, 1)
End If

If you want to have a substring match, drop "LookAt:=xlWhole" or use "LookAt:=xlPart".


Cell Formatting


You can format cells including text color, background color, font properties and border, but also formatting as a number, percent or text from VBA as follows:

  Selection.Characters.Font.Color = RGB(0, 0, 255) 'Foreground color AKA text color
  Selection.Interior.Color = RGB(230, 230, 230) 'Background color
  Selection.Characters.Font.ColorIndex = xlAutomatic 'Reset foreground color
  Selection.Interior.Color = xlAutomatic 'Reset background color
  Selection.Font.Name = "Verdana" 'Font face
  Selection.Font.Size = 8 'Font size
  Selection.Font.Bold = True
  Selection.Font.Italic = True
  Selection.Font.Underline = True
  'Selection.Font.Strikethrough = True
  Selection.Font.Name = Application.StandardFont 'See also ClearFormats below
  Selection.Font.Size = Application.StandardFontSize 'See also ClearFormats below
  'Selection.Borders.LineStyle = xlLineStyleNone or xlDouble or xlDashDotDot or other
  Selection.Borders.Weight = xlMedium ' xlHairline, xlThin, xlMedium, or xlThick
  'Selection.Borders(xlEdgeBottom).Weight = xlThick
  ' LineStyle and Weight interact in strange ways.
  Selection.Borders.Color = RGB(127, 127, 0) 'Will be overridden below; applies to all borders
  Selection.Borders(xlEdgeBottom).Color = RGB(255, 0, 0)
  Selection.Borders(xlEdgeTop).Color = RGB(0, 255, 0)
  Selection.Borders(xlEdgeLeft).Color = RGB(0, 0, 255)
  Selection.Borders(xlEdgeRight).Color = RGB(0, 127, 127)
  Selection.Borders(xlInsideHorizontal).Color = &H7FFF00 'A tricky hex matching RGB(0, 255, 127)
  Selection.Borders(xlInsideVertical).Color = RGB(255, 127, 0)

  Selection.NumberFormat = "General"
  Selection.NumberFormat = "00" 'As a number with zero decimal places, showing at least two digits
  Selection.NumberFormat = "0.000" 'As a number, showing three decimal places and no more
  Selection.NumberFormat = "0.0%" 'As a percent with one decimal place
  Selection.NumberFormat = "@" 'As text
  Selection.NumberFormat = "0.00E+00" 'As a number in scientific notation,
                                      'the string before E formatting the significand
  Selection.NumberFormat = "m/d/yyyy" 'As a date; whether "/" is shown depends on locale
  Selection.NumberFormat = "d. mmmm yyyy hh:mm:ss" 'As date, showing the month using a word,
                                      'also showing time
  Selection.ClearFormats 'Remove formatting, keeping cell content.
                         'Removes also the formatting set using NumberFormat.




In Excel VBA, RGB colors are plain numbers rather than objects. Some color examples are listed in #Cell Formatting.

Some examples:

Selection.Characters.Font.Color = RGB(0, 0, 255) 'Foreground color AKA text color
Selection.Interior.Color = RGB(230, 230, 230) 'Background color
Selection.Characters.Font.ColorIndex = xlAutomatic 'Reset foreground color
Selection.Comment.Shape.Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(220, 255, 160)
'The above is the fill color, that is, the background color
Selection.Comment.Shape.TextFrame.Characters.Font.ColorIndex = 3 'Red per default
'Selection.Comment.Shape.TextFrame.Characters.Font.Color = RGB(255, 0, 0) 'Does not work in Excel 2007
If False Then
  ActiveWorkbook.Colors(3) = RGB(200, 0, 0) 'Make the red in the index 5 a bit darker
End If

Setting the background color of the cells of the 1st column to the row number color index:

For ColorIndex = 1 to 56
  Cells(ColorIndex,1).Interior.ColorIndex = ColorIndex 

Color index in the default palette:

  • 0 - Automatic
  • 1 - Black
  • 2 - White
  • 3 - Red
  • 4 - Green
  • 5 - Blue
  • 6 - Yellow
  • 7 - Magenta
  • 8 - Cyan
  • 9 - Dark red
  • 10 - Dark green
  • 11 - Dark blue
  • ... etc., through 56

Finding all cells whose text color approaches green:

  TargetColor = RGB(0, 255, 0)
  Tolerance = 200
  'Extract the color components. The extraction is unneeded, but if the target
  'color came from the color of a selected cell, it would be needed.
  TmpColor = TargetColor
  TargetColorRed = TmpColor Mod 256
  TmpColor = TmpColor \ 256
  TargetColorGreen = TmpColor Mod 256
  TmpColor = TmpColor \ 256
  TargetColorBlue = TmpColor Mod 256

  For Each Cell In ActiveSheet.UsedRange.Cells
    MyColor = Cell.Characters.Font.Color 'Color is a number
    'Extract the RGB components of the color
    Red = MyColor Mod 256
    MyColor = MyColor \ 256
    Green = MyColor Mod 256
    MyColor = MyColor \ 256
    Blue = MyColor Mod 256
    'Find the distance from the target color
    Distance = ((Red - TargetColorRed) ^ 2 + _
                (Green - TargetColorGreen) ^ 2 + _
                (Blue - TargetColorBlue) ^ 2) ^ 0.5
    If Distance < Tolerance Then
      Cell.Interior.Color = RGB(230, 230, 230) 'Mark the cell using its background color
    End If




Hiding a row (hide a row, hide row):

Rows(2).Hidden = True
'Rows(2).Hidden = False 'Show it again

Hiding several rows at once:

Range("A1:A3").EntireRow.Hidden = True 'Hide rows 1, 2, and 3

Hiding the rows of the currently selected cells:

Selection.EntireRow.Hidden = True

Looping over rows that are visible AKA shown AKA not hidden:

For RowNo = 1 To 10
  If Not Rows(RowNo).Hidden Then
    'Do something on the row
  End If

Toggling the visibility of rows:

For RowNo = 1 To 10
  If Not Rows(RowNo).Hidden Then
    Rows(RowNo).Hidden = True
    Rows(RowNo).Hidden = False
  End If

Hiding a column (hide a column, hide column):

Columns(2).Hidden = True
'Columns(2).Hidden = False 'Show it again

Hiding several columns at once:

Range("A1:C1").EntireColumn.Hidden = True 'Hide columns 1, 2, and 3

Hiding the columns of the currently selected cells:

Selection.EntireColumn.Hidden = True

Other tricks pertaining to visibility of columns work in a direct analogy to the examples for rows above.


Opening or following a hyperlink (open a hyperlink, follow a hyperlink, open hyperlink, follow hyperlink):

ActiveWorkbook.FollowHyperlink ""

Opening the Wikipedia article for the article title found in the single active cell by opening a put-together URL:

ActiveWorkbook.FollowHyperlink "" & ActiveCell

Opening a Wikipedia article per article title in any of the currently selected cells:

For Each Cell In Selection
  ActiveWorkbook.FollowHyperlink "" & Cell

Opening a local hyperlink, with a possible pop-up asking for confirmation for security reasons:

ActiveWorkbook.FollowHyperlink "file://C:\Users\Joe Hoe\Desktop\Test.txt"


Temporary file


Getting a temporary file, with unclear robustness of the following method, which uses random numbers and tests for file existence:

Function GetTempFile(Prefix As String, Suffix As String) As String
  TempFolder = Environ$("tmp")
  While True
    TempFileName = TempFolder & "\" & Prefix & CStr(Int(10000000 * Rnd)) & Suffix
    If Dir(TempFileName) = "" Then 'Then the file does not exist
      GetTempFile = TempFileName
      Exit Function
    End If
End Function


Command Output


If you do not mind a popping up console window, here is a way of obtaining output of a command from Excel VBA:

Set MyShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
Set ExecObject = MyShell.Exec("tasklist /v")
' AllText = ExecObject.StdOut.ReadAll
Do While Not ExecObject.StdOut.AtEndOfStream
  Line = ExecObject.StdOut.ReadLine()
  If InStr(Line, "AcroRd32.exe") > 0 Then
    'Do something
  End If

If having a console window popping up is not acceptable and you are okay with creating a temporary file, here is another way of obtaining output of a command from Excel VBA:

'Summary: Run "attrib" on the file in column A (1) of the row
'of the currently selected cell, writing the result into
'column B (2) of the row.

'Get temp file name
TempFolder = Environ$("tmp")
TempFileName = ""
While TempFileName = ""
  TempFileNameCand = TempFolder & "\" & "mytmp" & CStr(Int(10000000 * Rnd)) & ".tmp"
  If Dir(TempFileNameCand) = "" Then 'Then the file does not exist
    TempFileName = TempFileNameCand
  End If
'Run the command
Set MyShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
MyCommand = "cmd /c attrib """ & Cells(Selection.Row, 1) & """ >" & TempFileName
MyShell.Run MyCommand, 0, True '0 = show no window
'Although attrib has an exe file, we need to use "cmd" for the
'redirection to work.

FileNo = FreeFile()
Open TempFileName For Input As #FileNo
While Not EOF(FileNo)
  Line Input #FileNo, MyLine
  Cells(Selection.Row, 2) = MyLine
Close #FileNo
Kill TempFileName 'Delete the file to clean up, although not strictly necessary

Using cmd /c, you can run chains of commands connected using & or | as well:

Set MyShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
Set ExecObject = MyShell.Exec("cmd /c cd /d C:\Users\Joe Hoe & findstr /s knowledge *.txt")
' AllText = ExecObject.StdOut.ReadAll
Do While Not ExecObject.StdOut.AtEndOfStream
  Line = ExecObject.StdOut.ReadLine()
  'Do something




Row height and column width:

Selection.RowHeight = 15
Cells(1,1).RowHeight = 15 'Can be applied to cells, not only to rows
Rows(4).AutoFit 'Automatically adjust row height
'Cells(4, 1).AutoFit 'Error
Cells(4, 1).EntireRow.AutoFit
Selection.EntireRow.AutoFit 'Auto fit the row height of the current selection
ActiveSheet.UsedRange.Rows.AutoFit 'Auto fit the row height of the entire sheet
Selection.RowHeight = ActiveSheet.StandardHeight

Columns(1).ColumnWidth = 70
Cells(1,1).ColumnWidth = 70 'Can be applied to cells, not only to columns
Columns(2).AutoFit 'Automatically adjust column width
Selection.EntireRow.AutoFit 'Auto fit the column width of the current selection
ActiveSheet.UsedRange.Columns.AutoFit 'Auto fit the column width of the entire sheet
Selection.ColumnWidth = ActiveSheet.StandardWidth




Working with comment aka note:

If Cells(1,1).Comment Is Nothing Then
  Cells(1,1).AddComment Text:="Hey"
  'AddComment throws an error if the cell already has a comment
  'Range("A2:A3").AddComment Text:="Hey" 'Error
  'AddComment throws an error if applies to more than one cell at once.
End If
Cells(1,1).Comment.Text Text:=Selection.Comment.Text & " there"
Cells(1,1).Comment.Visible = True 'Prevent the comment from autohiding
Cells(1,1).Comment.Visible = False 'The default setting
Cells(1,1).Comment.Shape.Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(220, 255, 160)
'The above is the fill color, that is, the background color
Cells(1,1).Comment.Shape.Height = 60
Cells(1,1).Comment.Shape.Width = 80
Cells(1,1).Comment.Shape.TextFrame.Characters.Font.Name = "Verdana"
Cells(1,1).Comment.Shape.TextFrame.Characters.Font.Size = 9
Cells(1,1).Comment.Shape.TextFrame.Characters(1, 3).Font.Bold = True
If False Then
  Range("A1:A2").ClearComments 'Can apply to several cells at once
  Cells(1,1).PasteSpecial Paste:=xlPasteComments
End If

Collecting all comments of the sheet into a string:

CommentString = ""
For Each Comment in ActiveSheet.Comments
  CommentString = CommentString & " " & Comment.Text




Approximately speaking, tells whether a variable has been initialized and not yet written to.

Can be used to tell whether a cell is empty; the presence of a comment attached to the cell or formatting of the cell does not make a cell non-empty.


Set MyCell = Cells(1, 1)
If IsEmpty(MyCell) Then
  MyCell.Value = "New value"
End If
MyCell.Value = ""
Result1 = IsEmpty(MyCell) 'True
Dim MyVar
Result2 = IsEmpty(MyVar) 'True
MyVar = ""
Result3 = IsEmpty(MyVar) 'False
MyVar = Empty
Result4 = IsEmpty(MyVar) 'True


  • IsEmpty at Excel 2010 VBA Language Reference at msdn



Tells whether an expression is Null, which is distinct from Empty.

Null can be assigned to variant variables; it cannot be assigned to variables dimensioned as strings or integers. Null cannot be assigned to objects, unlike Nothing.


Result1 = IsNull(Null)   'True
Result2 = IsNull(Empty)  'False
Dim MyVar As Variant
MyVar = Null             'All right
Result3 = IsNull(MyVar)  'True
Dim MyColl As Collection
Set MyColl = Nothing     'All right
Set MyColl = Null        'Error
Dim MyStr As String
MyStr = Null             'Error
Dim MyInt As Integer
MyInt = Null             'Error


  • IsNull at Excel 2013 VBA Language Reference at msdn

Add-Ins at Startup


Controlling what add-ins Excel opens at startup:

Microsoft Excel 2003: Configure loaded add-ins via Tools -> Add-ins. Their list is mirrored in the following Registry key, but there's no advantage in editing the Registry:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Excel\Init Commands

Microsoft Excel 2002 SP-2:When you start Excel, it may automatically load addins (i.e. those you added from Tools -> Add-Ins). The list of add-ins that get loaded come from the following registry key:


Under this key you may find a list of string-variables:

  • OPEN
  • OPEN1
  • OPEN2
  • etc...

The values of these variables is the name of the add-in. Excel, on start-up, will attempt to load the add-in in string-variable OPEN first, then OPEN1 (if present), onward until it runs out of such string-variables. It seems like Excel will automatically renumber the keys if they are not consecutive (i.e. OPEN1, OPEN3, OPEN4 will become OPEN1, OPEN2, OPEN3).

Note also the list of add-ins presented when you do Tools -> Add-Ons is, in part, populated by the contents of the following key:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\10.0\Excel\Addin Manager

See also the following MS KB article: How to Remove Entries from Add-Ins Dialog Box.

Chart direct from VBA array data


Charts need not be based on the values in cells of a spreadsheet, but can also be made directly in VBA from an array. The following code makes a chart of the relative frequency of characters in a string, in percent of the total, or normalized to a maximum of unity. There is also an option to sort the display and the content can be changed by modifying the content or sequence of the vRef array. Procedures to remove charts and test the functions are included.

Sub TestChartOfStrFreq()
    'run this to make a chart
    Dim str As String, n As Long, c As Long
    'place user string here
    str = ""
    'if no user string use these random charas
    If str = "" Then
           n = Int((127 - 0 + 1) * Rnd + 0)
            Select Case n
            'numbers, and upper and lower letters
            Case 48 To 57, 65 To 90, 97 To 122
               str = str & Chr(n)
               c = c + 1
            End Select
        Loop Until c = 1000
    End If
    If ChartOfStrFreq(str, 1, 1) Then MsgBox "Chart done..."

End Sub

Sub DeleteAllWorkbookCharts5()
'run this to delete all charts
    Dim oC
    Application.DisplayAlerts = False
        For Each oC In ThisWorkbook.Charts
        Next oC
    Application.DisplayAlerts = True

End Sub

Function ChartOfStrFreq(sIn As String, Optional bSort As Boolean = False, Optional bNormalize As Boolean = False) As Boolean
'makes Excel bar-graph chart for percentage incidence of vRef charas in string (or normalized to max value= 1)
'bSort = True for descending percent otherwise vRef sequence

    Dim vRef As Variant, LBC As Long, UBC As Long, LBR As Long, UBR As Long
    Dim vW() As Variant, x() As Variant, y() As Variant
    Dim sUC As String, nC As Long, n As Long, sS As String, nS As Long
    Dim vR As Variant, bCond As Boolean, SortIndex As Long, temp As Variant
    Dim t As Variant, i As Long, j As Long, q As Long, max As Variant
    Dim bXValueLabels As Boolean, sT As String, sX As String, sY As String
    If sIn = "" Then
       MsgBox "Empty input string - closing"
       Exit Function
    End If
    'load the intended x-axis display set here...add to it and delete as required
    vRef = Array("A", "B", "C", "D", "E", "F", "G", "H", "I", "J", "K", "L", "M", _
                 "N", "O", "P", "Q", "R", "S", "T", "U", "V", "W", "X", "Y", "Z", _
                 "0", "1", "2", "3", "4", "5", "6", "7", "8", "9")
    'set axis labels etc...
    sT = "Selective Distribution from a " & Len(sIn) & "-Character String"
    sX = "Character Set of Interest"
    If bNormalize Then
       sY = "Count Divided by Maximum Value"
       sY = "Percentage of Original String"
    End If
    bXValueLabels = True
    LBC = LBound(vRef): UBC = UBound(vRef)
    ReDim vW(0 To 2, LBC To UBC)
    LBR = LBound(vW, 1): UBR = UBound(vW, 1)
    ReDim x(LBC To UBC)
    ReDim y(LBC To UBC)

    sUC = UCase(sIn)
    nC = Len(sIn)
    For n = LBC To UBC
       vW(0, n) = vRef(n) 'all charas to first row
       sS = vW(0, n)
       'count hits in string for each chara in ref set
       vW(1, n) = UBound(Split(sUC, sS)) - LBound(Split(sUC, sS)) 'count hits
       'calculate hits as percentages of total chara count
       vW(2, n) = Round(((vW(1, n)) * 100 / nC), 2)
    Next n

    If bNormalize Then
        max = vW(1, FindMax(vW, 1))
        For n = LBC To UBC
           temp = vW(1, n)
           vW(2, n) = Round((temp / max), 2)
        Next n
    End If

    If bSort Then
        SortIndex = 2
        'descending sort, on rows
        For i = LBC To UBC - 1
            For j = LBC To UBC - 1
                bCond = vW(SortIndex, j) < vW(SortIndex, j + 1)
                If bCond Then
                    For q = LBR To UBR
                        t = vW(q, j)
                        vW(q, j) = vW(q, j + 1)
                        vW(q, j + 1) = t
                    Next q
                End If
    End If

    'transfer data to chart arrays
    For n = LBC To UBC
        x(n) = vW(0, n) 'x axis data
        y(n) = vW(2, n) 'y axis data
    Next n

    'make chart
    ActiveChart.ChartType = xlColumnClustered 'column chart
    'assign the data and labels to a series
    With ActiveChart.SeriesCollection
       If .count = 0 Then .NewSeries
          If bXValueLabels Then
             .Item(1).ApplyDataLabels Type:=xlDataLabelsShowValue
             .Item(1).DataLabels.Orientation = 60
          End If
       If Val(Application.Version) >= 12 Then
          .Item(1).Values = y
          .Item(1).XValues = x
          Names.Add "_", x
          ExecuteExcel4Macro "series.x(!_)"
          Names.Add "_", y
          ExecuteExcel4Macro "series.y(,!_)"
       End If
    End With
    'apply title string, x and y axis strings, and delete legend
    With ActiveChart
       .HasTitle = True
       .ChartTitle.Text = sT
       .SetElement (msoElementPrimaryCategoryAxisTitleAdjacentToAxis) 'X
       .Axes(xlCategory).AxisTitle.Text = sX
       .SetElement (msoElementPrimaryValueAxisTitleRotated) 'Y
       .Axes(xlValue).AxisTitle.Text = sY
    End With

ChartOfStrFreq = True
End Function

Public Function FindMax(arr() As Variant, row As Long) As Long
  Dim myMax As Long
  Dim i As Long
  For i = LBound(arr, 2) To UBound(arr, 2)
    If arr(row, i) > myMax Then
      myMax = arr(row, i)
      FindMax = i
    End If
  Next i
End Function

Nuking Retained State

  • Works on: Microsoft Excel 2002 SP-2
  • OS: Windows XP

Nuking Excel's Retained State: Excel remembers all sorts of things between runs: What addins to load, what buttons and menus to display, etc. Sometime you'll want to clean all of this stuff up and bring Excel back to its factory state.

Nuking Excel Checklist:

  1. Make sure the following directories are empty:
    1. C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\xlstart
    2. C:\apps\xp\application data\Microsoft\xlstart
  2. Nuke the auto-open keys from the registry(as shown below);
  3. Nuke all .xlbs – For example check here:
    1. C:\apps\xp\application data\Microsoft\Excel