How to record and test a short macro. This tutorial is for absolute beginners, and will help you get started with Excel programming
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:
Watch this short video to see the steps, and the written instructions are below the video.
NOTE: There's another video below, that shows how to record and run a simple macro, to format an Excel file.
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 programming language, 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.
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
This video shows the steps, and there are written instructions below the video.
To add the Developer tab in Excel:
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.)
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:
Now, follow these steps to run the macro, to see if it works the way you want.
If your recorded macro work as expected, great! You can close all 3 workbooks used by the macro, without saving the changes.
But, if you see an error message, click the End button, and try recording the macro again. Maybe it will work this time.
Or, go to the Edit a Recorded Macro section below, and see if your macro code needs a minor change or two.
Create a Macro Shortcut
To make it easier to run a macro, you can create a keyboard shortcut for it.
After you record a macro, you might need to make minor adjustments to the VBA code, so that the macro is more flexible. For example, change cell references that the macro recorded.
Watch this video to see the steps, and see the written instructions below the video
Open the Macro Workbook
When you recorded the macro, you selected a workbook where you wanted to store the macro. If that workbook has been closed, follow these steps to open it again:
Find the Excel VBA Code
Next, follow these steps, to go to the recorded code.
Excel Visual Basic Editor
In the Code Window, you can edit the text, just as you would in Microsoft Word, or Notepad.
In the Project Explorer Window, you can select an object and see any code that it contains.
In the screen shot above, Module 1 is highlighted, in the VBA Project for our workbook, named MacroCopyProduct.xlsm.
Check the Recorded Code
The Excel Macro Recorder created some code, while we performed the steps in our process. In my example, these were the steps:
Here’s how those steps look, when written in Excel VBA by the Macro Recorder.
Change the Recorded Code
The Excel Macro Recorder is a great tool for getting started with Excel VBA. Sometimes you can leave the code exactly as is, and it will run fine every time you need it. Most times though, the recorded code needs to be modified, and we’ll start with a simple change.
When recording the code, I selected a specific range, “A1:J50”, which is used in two lines of the code. If new rows of data are added, the code won’t include them.
To accommodate for an increase in rows, we could change the 50 to 500. Then, if rows are added, they’ll be included in the filter. There are more sophisticated ways to deal with a range that changes size, but this works for now.
Test the Changes
After you have changed the recorded code, follow the steps below, to close the VBE.
Use the Menu:
OR, use the shortcut
Try the Macro Again
After the VBE is closed, run the macro again, to test the changed code.
If the revised macro worked well, you can save the workbook that stores the macro.
But, if there are still problems with the macro:
Record Macro to Format Excel File
Here's another video that shows how to record and run a simple macro in Excel, to automate the task of formatting an Excel file every day.
I made this video because one of my clients was tired of manually formatting a daily list of customer information, and asked me for help. So, I set up a workbook with fake data, that was similar to the Excel file setup that she was formatting.
Next, I made this video, to show her how to record an Excel macro, while she did the daily steps. The video has a few Excel tips too, like using the F4 key to repeat the last action, and adding a button to the Quick Access Toolbar, so it's easy to run a macro.
Get the Workbook
Last updated: March 20, 2023 4:07 PM