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: Determining if Calculation is Necessary.

Determining if Calculation is Necessary

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 13, 2016)


Excel allows you to control when it recalculates a worksheet. Normally, Excel recalculates anytime you change something in a cell. If you are working with very large worksheets that have lots of formulas in them, you may want to turn off the automatic recalculation feature. You can turn off automatic recalculation using the tools in the Calculation group on the Formulas tab of the ribbon.

Your macros can also force Excel to recalculate your worksheet. If you have automatic recalculation turned on, then any change your macro makes in a worksheet will force Excel to recalculate. If you have automatic recalculation turned off, then you can use the Calculate method to recalculate a worksheet:


Of course, if recalculation takes quite a while to perform, you might want to check to see if a recalculation is necessary before actually forcing one. It appears that there is no flag you can directly check to see if a recalculation is necessary. The closest thing is to check the Workbook object's Saved property. This property essentially acts as a "dirty flag" for the entire workbook. If there are unsaved changes in a workbook, then the Saved property is False; if everything is saved, then it is True.

How does this help you figure out if a recalculation is necessary? Remember that calculation is only necessary when there are changes in a worksheet. Changing anything in a worksheet will also set the workbook's Saved property to False. Thus, you could check the Saved property before doing the recalculation, as shown here:

If Not ActiveWorkbook.Saved Then
End If

There is only one problem with this approach, of course—the Saved property is only set to True if the workbook is actually saved. This means that you could recalculate multiple times without really needing to do so, unless you tie saving and recalculation together, as shown here:

If Not ActiveWorkbook.Saved Then
End If

The wisdom of approaching this problem in this manner depends on the nature of your particular situation. If it takes longer to save the workbook than it does to simply recalculate, then this approach won't work. If, however, recalculation takes longer (which is very possible with some types of operations), then this approach may work well.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (5685) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Determining if Calculation is Necessary.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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Comments for this tip:

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What is seven minus 6?

2016-07-15 08:41:35

Marlon Simons

Dear Allen,

The proposed solution only works if the workbook does not contain any conditional formatting based on the current date.
If the workbook contains conditional formatting based on the current date, the ActiveWorkbook.Saved property will turn false when opening the workbook.

With kind regards,

2013-07-22 08:38:39


This approach also won't work with volatile functions: TODAY(), NOW(), RAND(), RANDBETWEEN(), or macros including Application.Volatile. (INDIRECT() and OFFSET() are also volatile functions, but if nothing else has changed on the sheet, then neither should these). Even Excel has no way to tell when these need to be updated, so it always recalculates them.

Generally speaking, if you are having trouble with long calculation times, it's better to rewrite your formulas or reorganize your data to speed up the calculations rather than brute-forcing around the issue.

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