Excel VBA Developer Toolbar

Basic Description

Start a new spreadsheet for this. Now click on your Developer toolbar at the top of Excel. You should see this:

Developer Toolbar

The above image is taken from Excel 2013. If you have an earlier version, you may not have the Add-Ins and Modify panels. But that’s OK because we won’t be using these. The first panel to explore is the one on the left – Code:

There are five items on the Code panel: Visual Basic, Macros, Record Macro, Use Relative References, and Macro Security. You’ve already seen the Macro Security item. If you can’t run your Macros then click this item and change the security settings.

Clicking the Visual Basic item opens up the Visual Basic editor. You can also press ALT + F11 on your keyboard as a shortcut. Clicking the Macros item on the Code panel. Once you create a few Macros, they will appear in the list. You can then run them by selecting a Macro Name and clicking the Run button. The other two items are Record Macro and Use Relative References. We’ll skip over these two, as we won’t have too much use for them. The panel we’ll use a lot, though, is the Controls panel. The first item, Insert, is expanded when you click on it. Doing so will reveal the following:


These are all the controls you can add to an Excel spreadsheet or a user form. We’ll be adding one of these controls to a spreadsheet shortly. But back to the Controls panel. The other items are:

  • The Design Mode item is used to edit a control on a spreadsheet.
  • The Properties item shows you properties for a selected control.
  • The View Code item takes you to the Visual Basic editor again.
  • The Run Dialog item can be ignored, as we won’t be using it.

We’ll now create a Macro that selects a range of cells. These cells will be selected when we click a button on a spreadsheet.

To create the Macro, click the Visual Basic item on the Code panel. The Visual Basic Editor will open up. We want this Macro to be only for Sheet1 in the current Workbook. On the left hand side of the Editor, locate the Project Explorer panel. (If you can’t see it, Click View > Project Explorer from the menu at the top of the Editor.) In the Project Explorer right click the Sheet1 item under VBAProject (Book1). From the menu that appears, select View Code. A blank coding window will open up. (You can also double click on Sheet1 to open up the code window.) What we want to do here is to create a Subroutine. This Subroutine will be our Macro. Type the following line into the white coding area:

Sub Range_A1_D6()

Press the Enter key on your keyboard and the Editor should add the corresponding End Sub for you. Your coding window will then look like this:


So we now have a Subroutine (a Macro) with the name Range_A1_D6. In between Sub and End Sub enter the following code:



Adding a Button

you’ll activate that Sub from a button on a spreadsheet. At the top of the VBA Editor, locate the Excel icon, just under the File menu. Click this icon to return to your spreadsheet. We’ll now place a button control on the spreadsheet. Locate the Controls panel on the Developer toolbar, and then click the Insert item. From the Insert menu, click the first item, which is a button. Now move your mouse to your spreadsheet. Hold down your left mouse button somewhere on the F column (F3 will do). Keep it held down and draw out a rectangular button. Let go of the left mouse button when your cursor is on H4.

As you can guess, this code selects a range of cells. It selects the cells A1 to D6. Before we try it out, you need to save your work. From the menu bar at the top of the Editor, click File > Save Book1. The Save As dialogue box should appear. Change the name of the file to Range_Exercises.xlxs. Click the Save button and you should see an error message appear. This one:


Click No to return to the Save As dialogue box. You get the error message because your file contains Macros. Excel can’t save Macros in a file that end in xlxs. You need to change the file ending. To do that, click the Save As Type dropdown list. From the list, select Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook(*.xlsm). Click the Save button again. When you click the Save button this time, the file should save OK. But note that the file ending is now xlsm. Now that you know how to save a spreadsheet with a Macro in it, it’s time to do something with that Macro. We’ll add a button to a spreadsheet and activate our Sub when the button is clicked. We’ll do that in the next part of this lesson below.

As soon as you let go of the left mouse button you’ll see the Assign Macro dialogue box appear. Select your Macro from the list and click OK. The button on your spreadsheet should now look like this. You can edit the text on a button quite easily. Right click the button to see a menu appear. From the menu, select Edit Text.

When you select Edit Text, a cursor will appear at the start of the text. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move the cursor to the end of the line. Delete the text Button 1 and type Range(“A1:D6”).Select instead (If you accidentally click away from the button, click on it again with right mouse button and not the left button. This will select your button again.) Click away from the button to exit edit mode and you’ll see the sizing handles disappear. You can now test your button out. Give it a click and you’ll see the cells A1 to D6 highlighted.

Congratulations! You have now written Excel VBA code to select a range of cells on a spreadsheet. And all with the click of a button!

Now return to the Visual Basic editor (From the Developer toolbar, click Visual Basic on the Code panel.) Type a single quote before your Range line. Now return to the Visual Basic editor (From the Developer toolbar, click Visual Basic on the Code panel.) Type a single quote before your Range line. The line should turn green. The reason it turns green is because a single quote is used for comments. When the line is commented out it means Visual Basic will no longer see it as code, so doesn’t do anything with it. You can add comments to remind yourself what your code does. Adding comments to your code is a good habit to get in to. Especially when you come back to your code after a few weeks or so. If you haven’t added comments you may not quite understand what it was you were trying to do.

Back to the Range code, though. Notice how we referred to the range of cells A1 to D6:


Another way to refer to the same range is like this:

Range(“A1”, “D6”).Select

This time, the start cell A1 and the end cell D6 are enclosed with double quotes. In between the two we have a comma. Both the examples above do the same thing: they first select the top left cell of the range, and then the bottom right cell of the range. It’s entirely up to you which you use. But with the second version you can use something called the ActiveCell.

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