"Automate-Automate-Automate" said the little red robot
When you start using Excel you’ll probably do all your work manually because you haven’t found the powerful automation built right into Excel. It was the same for me when I first started using Excel. Entering data, copying and pasting results, formatting and charting – you name it, I did it all by hand.
Years later I found out about Macros and VBA and once I got to know VBA, I wonder how I ever got along without it. In this article I’ll introduce you to Macros, quickly show you the Macro recorder and explain the difference between Macros and VBA.
“What’s VBA?” you ask, well read on to find out about this powerful feature of Excel that can help you automate boring, time-consuming tasks.
A Macro is a collection of commands that you can run with a single click or keyboard combination. They can automate almost anything you can do in Excel and even do things you might not have known were possible.
In essence, a macro is a computer program that gives automated instructions to the computer. The original macros were a way to use a few characters to represent a lot of instructions. They were called macros because the output was much bigger than the input. (Greek makros = “long, large”)
The use of Macros in Excel saves time and can expand the capabilities of Excel. They can automate repetitive tasks like creating and printing documents that you and your colleagues use regularly.
"Hi!" drawn by recording and replaying a VB Macro in Excel
You have probably seen macro warnings when opening Microsoft Office documents, and so macros might make you think of scary things such as viruses. Well you should know that most macros are not only harmless but are actually tremendous timesavers. And macros are easier to create and use than you might expect.
Create a Macro in Excel using the Macro Recorder
Create a Macro in Excel using the Macro Recorder
Using the Macro Recorder in Excel 2010 (right click on status bar for options)
You can repeat a macro as many times as you want by asking Excel to replay the macro. Macros may be run from a toolbar button, or menu, from a shape in the workbook, or from another macro.
Microsoft VBA is the programming language that Excel Macros are recorded in. VBA stands for “Visual Basic for Applications”. With VBA you can create visual basic macros for Excel.
If you can record Macros with the Macro recorder, why would you want to use VBA? The truth is that while the Macro recorder is simple to use, it doesn’t create nice code and it can only record straightforward tasks.
VBA allows you to add brains to your macros and turn them into intelligent programs, for example you can ask the user to type in their name and store that in your program. VBA allows you to take advantage of features that can’t be accessed through the standard user interface. Below you can see Option Buttons being used inside a user form to get input from the user.
User Forms can be displayed in Excel using VBA
Excel was the first major Microsoft Office application to use VBA, but VBA is not tied directly to Excel. It works just as well with other VBA-enabled applications, such as Word, Access and PowerPoint. So anyone who knows how to write Excel macros in VBA can transfer that knowledge to other types of Visual Basic programming.
If you know how to write Excel macros in VBA you can quickly transfer that knowledge
and learn to write macros in other Office programs such as Word, Access and
The best way to start learning how VBA communicates with Excel objects is to create some simple macros by using the macro recorder. Eventually, however, you’ll want to move beyond the limitations of the macro recorder and learn VBA.
Excel Macros Tutorial (for Excel 2010)
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Victor expertly teaches Microsoft Excel to people all over the world. He has millions of views of his popular Excel explainer videos on YouTube. These show time-saving shortcuts and real-world applications explained with easy-to-follow visuals.
Victor has over 20 years of experience using Excel as a professional for Big 4 Audit Firm Deloitte and two global tech companies. He knows firsthand that being more productive with Excel can lead to greater job satisfaction and career growth.
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