How to enable macros in Excel and automate your work on a spreadsheet

ShutterstockThere are several ways you can enable macros on Excel.
  • You can enable macros in Excel using the Trust Centre or enable a specific macro from the security warning at the top of a spreadsheet.
  • Excel supports macros, which are programmable scripts that automate various features in Excel.
  • Macros can be dangerous, so Excel disables them by default.
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Microsoft Excel spreadsheets can contain scripts known as macros. Macros are small, simple programs within Excel (or other Office programs) that can automate common tasks.

There was a time when macros were very common in Excel, but macro viruses — malicious macros that could inflict serious harm — forced Microsoft to implement safety and security precautions, including disabling macros by default.

These days, you can still use macros in Excel, but you need to enable the macro feature to do so. Here’s how to enable (and disable) macros.

How to enable macros in Excel

If you are willing to accept the risk of enabling all macros in Excel, you can permanently enable them using the Trust Centre.

1. Click “File” and then click “Options.”

2. In the Excel Options window, click “Trust Centre” in the navigation pane on the left.

3. Click “Trust Centre Settings…”

Dave Johnson/Business InsiderOpen the Trust Centre Settings to tweak the way Excel deals with macros.

4. In the navigation pane on the left, click “Macro Settings.”

5. In the Macro Settings section, click “Enable all macros (not recommended: potentially dangerous code can run)” and then click “OK.” As the option warns, this is a dangerous choice and not recommended.

Dave Johnson/Business InsiderThis window is where you can turn macros on and off in Excel.

If you want to disable macros in the future, return to the Trust Centre and choose “Disable all macros with notifications.”

How to permanently enable a single macro in Excel

If you have an Excel file with a macro, you can easily enable it when you open the spreadsheet.

1. Open the file with the macro in Excel.

2. You should see a yellow Security Warning message bar advising you that macros have been disabled.

3. Click “Enable Content.”

Dave Johnson/Business InsiderClick ‘Enable Content’ to always allow this macro to run without being blocked.

How to enable a macro in Excel for one time only

If you want to run a particular macro just one time, you can configure Excel’s security settings for that as well.

1. Open the file with the macro in Excel.

2. You should see a yellow Security Warning message bar advising you that macros have been disabled.

3. Click “File” and then click “Info.”

4. In the Security Warning section, click “Enable Content.”

5. In the dropdown menu, click “Advanced Options.”

Dave Johnson/Business InsiderTo enable a macro, click ‘Advanced Options’ under the ‘Enable Content’ dropdown.

6. Click “Enable content for this session” and then click “OK.”

The macro will be enabled for this one time and will be disabled the next time you open the file.

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