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Get started with programming in Excel, by recording and testing a short macro.
What Can Excel Do Without Macros?
Identify an Excel Task to Automate
Get Ready to Record
Perform the Macro Steps
Stop the Recording
Get Ready to Test the Macro
Test the Macro
Run the Recorded Macro
Video: Record and Test Excel Macro
If you don't know anything about Excel VBA, where should you start? In this tutorial you'll take these first steps in using Excel VBA:
- Understand what Excel can do without macros
- Think of a simple, repetitive, Excel task that you have to repeat every day
- Use the Macro Recorder to automate that simple routine
Excel can do all kinds of amazing things, without macros. Get to know Excel's powerful built-in features, such as:
If you use those built-in features, you might not need a macro. For example, instead of checking each cell in a column, and manually colouring the cell green if it's over 50, use conditional formatting to highlight the cells automatically.
If you use Excel every day, you probably have a few tasks that you repeat daily, weekly or monthly. To get started with Excel VBA, you could focus on one of those tasks, and try to automate it.
In this example, you have a list of stationery orders, in a workbook named Orders.xlsx. You can download the sample Orders file, or use a file of your own. The sample file is in Excel 2007 format, and is zipped.
Every day, in your imaginary job, you open that Orders file and filter the list of orders, to find all the orders for binders. Then you copy the orders, and paste them into a new workbook.
Here's a summary of the steps that you follow every morning:
- Open the orders file
- Filter the list for binder orders
- Copy the binder orders
- Create a new workbook
- Paste the binder orders into the new workbook.
Instead of doing that task manually every day, you could automate it, by creating an Excel macro.
Now that you've decided to automate this task, you'll use Excel's Macro Recorder tool to create the Excel VBA code. Before you start recording, you'll get everything into position. For example:
- Do you want the macro to open a specific workbook, or will that workbook already be open?
- Should you select a cell or worksheet before the macro runs, or will selecting the cell be part of the macro?
In this example, you want the macro to open the Orders workbook for you, and then filter and copy the data. So, the Orders workbook should be closed when you start recording. You don't need to select a specific cell or worksheet before recording; any cell selection will be done during the macro recording.
Once everything is in position, you can get ready to start recording.
- Open a new blank workbook, which is where you'll store the macro.
- At the bottom left of the Excel window, click the Record Macro button.
- In the Record Macro dialog box, type a one word name for the macro, CopyDailyRecords
- From the Store Macro In drop down, select This Workbook as the workbook where you'd like to store the VBA code. Later, you can open this workbook every morning, to run the macro.
- In the Description box, you can type a brief note about what the macro will do. This is optional, and you can leave the Description box empty, if you prefer.
- Click OK, to start recording.
While the Macro Recorder is on, you'll perform the steps that you want to automate. In this example, these are the steps that you should do now:
- Open the orders file - Orders.xlsx
- On the Data sheet in the Orders file, use an AutoFilter to view the binder orders
- Copy the filtered binder orders, including the heading row.
- Create a new blank workbook
- Paste the binder orders into the new workbook, in cell A1 on Sheet1.
If you make a mistake - no problem! Just stop the recording (instructions below), close the files without saving, and start over again.
Once you finished all the steps, follow these steps to turn off the Macro Recorder and save the macro file.
NOTE: When saving a file that contains macros, you must choose Binary (xlsb) or Macro-Enabled (xlsm) file format in the Save window.
- Click the Stop Recording button at the bottom left of the Excel window.
- Close the workbook where you pasted the binder orders, without saving the changes.
- Close the Orders.xlsx workbook, without saving the changes
- Save the workbook where you stored the macro:
- Name: BinderCode.xlsm
- File Type: Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook *.xlsm or Excel Binary Workbook *.xlsb
- Close the BinderCode.xlsm file.
To prepare to test the macro, make sure that the Orders.xlsx workbook is closed.
Add the Developer Tab
To run the macro, you'll use the Developer tab on the Excel Ribbon. You can add the Developer tab to the Excel Ribbon, if it's not there already.
To add the Developer tab in Excel 2010:
- Right-click on the Ribbon, and click Customize Ribbon
- Add a check mark beside Developer, in the list at the right.
- Click OK, to close the Excel Options window.
To add the Developer tab in Excel 2007:
- Click the Microsoft Office Button, and then click Excel Options.
- Click the Popular category, and add a check mark to Show Developer tab in the Ribbon
- Click OK, to close the Excel Options window.
Video: Add the Developer Tab in Excel 2010
Macro Security Settings
If you haven't run macros before, you might need to change your macro security level. (You may have to clear this with your IT department.)
- On the Ribbon, click the Developer tab, and in the Code group, click Macro Security.
- In the Macro Settings category, under Macro Settings, click Disable all macros with notification
- Click OK.
- If you changed the setting, close the workbook, and then reopen it.
Now that the Developer tab is visible, you can get ready to test the macro. Open the Macro File First you'll open the file where the recorded macro is stored, and enable macros, by following these steps:
- Open the file (BinderCode.xlsm) where you stored the macro that you recorded.
- If a security warning appears at the top of the worksheet, click the Options button.
- Click Enable This Content, to allow the workbook's macros to run, and click OK.
Now, follow these steps to run the macro, to see if it works the way you want.
- On the Ribbon, click the Developer tab, and in the Code group, click Macros.
- In the Macro dialog box, click the macro that you want to run - CopyDailyRecords.
- Click Run.
If you see an error message, click the End button, and try recording the macro again. If everything went as expected, great! You can close all 3 workbooks used by the macro, without saving the changes.
To view the steps for recording and running an Excel macro, please watch this short video tutorial.
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Last updated: February 13, 2016