To get started with macros first you need to open the developer tab.
Open the developer tab
Getting the developer tab open
The developer tab is hidden by default in Excel. Unhiding it is easy. You should only need to do it once (e.g. after you install Excel or get a new computer). Your computer should remember that you’ve opened the developer tab and will leave it open from then.
Opening the developer tab
In the newer versions of Excel, find your Excel options (“File” “Options” for Excel 2010 and 2013).
Under “Customize Ribbon”, make sure there is a tick against “Developer” on the right hand side.
From now on your developer tab should stay showing.
If you are unsure how to open the developer tab, please click on the video below to see exactly what you need to do (“File” “Options” will get you started).
An overview of the developer tab
What’s the developer tab all about?
The developer tab gives you access to some extra functionality within Excel. You’ll have to ask Microsoft why it’s hidden by default, but we think the answer’s going to be something like this:
- Your average Excel user’s not going to need what the developer tab has to offer.
- The functionality within the developer tab is pretty ‘clunky’. It’s pretty hard to work out what’s going on. Looking at it probably immediately prompts more questions than it answers. If you were to measure “user friendliness” the whole thing may not be Microsoft’s finest moment and that could explain why they’re happy to keep it tucked away from all but the expert users who know how to unveil it.
We’re happy to help you work out what’s going on with the developer tab.
The “code” section of the developer tab
The first “Code” section of the developer tab is what we’re going to be using to record our first ever macro. That’s what we need next.
Other sections of the developer tab
The add-ins section gives you access to some extra functionality in Excel. If you click on “Add-ins” feel free to tick what’s there so you have that available to you – but you’d need to be a very specialist user of Excel to ever need to make use of it.
The controls section of the developer tab can be quite useful. It allows you to draw some extra control boxes or Excel forms which can help you run parts of your models. They can be used, for example, to automate and run your scenarios. We get you started on that here when we cover drop down boxes. If you get familiar with those controls you’ll find them remarkably similar to the choices you have available as you go on and build your own custom macro custom dialog boxes/ user forms – but that’s for later.
The XML section is used by people who are importing extra data into Excel e.g. from outside databases. Talk to your IT department if you think it might be relevant to you but it’s not used by anyone who is doing stand alone financial modelling. Sometimes it’s used by people who need to interface with internal management reporting systems and can’t get away with a straight copy and paste or quick data dump from somewhere else.
What next? Using the developer tab to record your first macro
We know you’re dying to keep going. In the next lesson we’re going to use the first “code” section of the developer tab – we are going to show you how to record a macro.