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Creating Add-Ins

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Creating Add-Ins.

Any Excel workbook can be converted to an add-in. The steps you need to follow to create an add-in are very precise, and may seem a bit overwhelming (particularly the first couple of times you do it). To create a protected add-in file, you need to do a little work in the VBA Editor and in Excel itself. First, here are the steps to follow to get the settings correct in the VBA Editor:

  1. Load the workbook that is destined to become your add-in.
  2. Press Alt+F11. Excel displays the Visual Basic Editor.
  3. At the very top of the Project window, select the bold entry that declares the name of the VBA project that is open.
  4. Choose the Properties option from the Tools menu. This displays the Project Properties dialog box.
  5. Make sure the Protection tab is selected. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Protection tab of the project's Properties dialog box.

  7. Make sure the Lock Project For Viewing check box is selected.
  8. Enter a password in both fields at the bottom of the dialog box.
  9. Click on OK. The dialog box closes.
  10. Press Alt+Q. Excel close the Visual Basic Editor and returns to the Excel workbook.

Now it is time to do a little work in Excel. Follow these steps if you are using Excel 2010 or Excel 2013:

  1. Display the File tab of the ribbon.
  2. Make sure the Info option is selected at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Click the Properties link near the right side of the dialog box and then click Advanced Properties. Excel displays the Properties dialog box for your workbook.
  4. Make sure the Summary tab is displayed. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. The Summary tab of the workbook's Properties dialog box.

  6. Make sure the Title field is filled in. What you enter here will appear in the Add-Ins dialog box used by Excel.
  7. Make sure the Comments field is filled in. What you enter here will appear in the description area of the Add-Ins dialog box used by Excel.
  8. Click on the OK button.
  9. Press F12. Excel displays the Save As dialog box.
  10. Using the Save As Type pull-down list, specify a file type of Excel Add-In (*.xlam).
  11. Specify a name for your add-in file in the File Name field.
  12. Click on Save. Your add-in file is created.
  13. Close the workbook you just saved as an add-in.

The steps are slightly different in Excel 2007:

  1. Click the Office button, Prepare, and then Properties. Excel displays the Document Information Panel just below the ribbon and just above the worksheet.
  2. Make sure the Title field is filled in. What you enter here will appear in the Add-Ins dialog box used by Excel.
  3. Make sure the Comments field is filled in. What you enter here will appear in the description area of the Add-Ins dialog box used by Excel.
  4. Close the Document Information Panel.
  5. Press F12. Excel displays the Save As dialog box.
  6. Using the Save As Type pull-down list, specify a file type of Excel Add-In (*.xlam).
  7. Specify a name for your add-in file in the File Name field.
  8. Click on Save. Your add-in file is created.
  9. Close the workbook you just saved as an add-in.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8528) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Creating Add-Ins.

Related Tips:

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

 

Comments for this tip:

Kurukafa    02 Oct 2014, 05:58
Thanks you for this nice explanation. I was unable to find that add-in description is actually grabbed from the Comments field of the file. Fortunately I come across your page.

I also want to note that it is not possible to set the Publisher field of the add-in. It is always displayed as blank, unless your add-in is not an xlam file.
Aldo    06 Aug 2014, 11:21
ADD-INs are one of the best tools available in MS Excel! I have created over the years many useful functions and macros for various tasks and requires. One in particular is a function that works with feet-inch measurements ie: 5'-4 3/4" converts to 64.75

I deal with a lot of field work measurements and is was always frustrating to do the conversions, so I created a function to do this for me and then saved it as in an add-in file. Now I have this function (among others now) available every time for any file. I can share with co-workers as well.

Add-ins are the best, and they are super easy to update as needed. I have over 20 custom functions I use on a regular bases!

Learn it, use it. It will greatly be worth it.
rpurosky    01 Jul 2014, 08:11
Thanks, John, that's very clear.
rpurosky    01 Jul 2014, 08:11
Thanks, John, that's very clear.
johnjacobson    30 Jun 2014, 20:10
rpurosky:

one advantage of an add-in is it makes custom functions easier. If you want to use a custom function in a macro file, you have to have the file open and you have to preface the function name with the filename, like =personal.xlsm!BuildRange(). However if the custom function is in an add-in, it's always available and you don't have to type the filename, just =BuildRange().
rpurosky    30 Jun 2014, 09:07
My main question is what is the purpose of creating an add-in? What can you do with an add-in that you can't with a macro or why would it be easier to use than a macro? Not seeing the "why" in this tip, just the "how".
(Jodi: I can see the graphics fine, so may be your browser settings.)
Jodi     30 Jun 2014, 08:26
Figure images for the site do not appear even when selecting "show pictures" (rt click).. Any suggestions on how to get these to appear?
pegstein    28 Jun 2014, 10:59
how does an add-in work with another worksheet? I want to create something that will automate formatting of data and worksheets. Is an add-in the right answer?

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