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: Storing a User's Location before Running a Macro.

Storing a User's Location before Running a Macro

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 22, 2014)


John has a macro that does some processing on various worksheets in a workbook. He wants, at the beginning of the macro, to save the range of cells (or the single cell) that the user has selected. He uses ActiveCell.Address to determine this. Then, at the end of the macro, he wants to return to the user with the same range selected that they originally had selected.

The problem is, the macro could be finished on an entirely different worksheet than where the user started, and ActiveCell.Address only gives a cell address, not a worksheet name and definitely not a range. John wonders about the best way to store what he needs so he can return to the user's original location at the end of the macro.

For the best chance of getting someone back to where they started, there are three elements: workbook, worksheet, and cell. Actually, this last element (cell) may be a bit simplistic, as the user will always have a cell selected (this is what is returned by ActiveCell.Address), but may additionally have a range selected.

Here's how you get all four items:

Dim rngOrigSelection As Range
Dim rngOrigCell As Range
Dim sOrigWS As String
Dim sOrigWB As String

Set rngOrigSelection = Selection
Set rngOrigCell = ActiveCell
sOrigWS = ActiveSheet.Name
sOrigWB = ActiveWorkbook.Name

When you want to later return the user to where they were, you can use this type of code:


Of course, Excel always has multiple ways that you can accomplish any given task. In this case, you could shorten your code by only remembering the active cell and selected range:

Dim rngOrigSelection As Range
Dim rngOrigCell As Range

Set rngOrigSelection = Selection
Set rngOrigCell = ActiveCell

When you want to restore the user to the location, you rely upon the Parent object available in VBA:


The Parent object of the selection range you saved is the worksheet in which that range is located, and the Parent of that Parent object is the workbook in which the worksheet is located.

Another approach is to simply create, within your macro, a named range that refers to whatever the user had selected:

ActiveWorkbook.Names.Add Name:="MyOrigPlace", RefersTo:=Selection

After you do your processing, when you are ready to return to what the user had selected, you use this code:

Application.Goto Reference:="MyOrigPlace"

The first line returns to the selection and the second line then deletes the named range. The only drawback to this approach is that the active cell is not retained; the code assumes that you want the upper-left cell in the range to be the active cell when it is done. You should also be aware that if your processing deletes the cells that make up the named range, then the code may not work properly—Excel can't go to a place that no longer exists.

Of course, you may not have to remember any location at all, if you code your macro correctly. While VBA allows you to "move around" and select different areas of your worksheets and workbook, in most cases this isn't necessary. You could, for instance, simply work with different ranges and then do your work on those ranges, without ever changing the current selection or active cell. Indeed, VBA allows you to change, reformat, sort, delete, and do almost anything you can imagine to cells without actually needing to select them.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6161) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Storing a User's Location before Running a Macro.

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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What is 1 + 5?

2015-11-15 23:28:16

James again

Not too mention, this sort of coding messes up the undo stack, doesn't it?

Again, would be much cleaner and more effective if MS added a property for PreviousActiveCell ....

2015-11-15 22:54:02

James Roberts

Is it just me, or does it seem Microsoft should have (by now) thought to include the previous selection (or at least activecell) as an accessible property in VBA for Excel? It seems t would be a fairly commonly required piece of information when using the SelectionChange event, and awfully clumsy to have to code it when needed, and even then not have it update correctly under all scenarios.

(I have *mostly* solved it with auto open and selection change macros updating a value stored in the workbook custom properties [your idea of using references is a nice alternative], but it doesn't always keep up to date with the last known activecell; certain scenarios/processes - which I have yet to identify but which change the selection - don't get caught by the event routines).

Even if it did work faultlessly, it is painful to have to re-implement it on every worksheet for which I may want it!

PS Allen, thanks for the web site.

2014-12-24 12:09:55


I have two macros - 1st one to navigate user to another area in the worksheet. The 2nd one is to take back the user to cell location prior to executing the 1st marco. Per your example when I Dim and save location of the cell within 1st marcro, it is not available to 2nd macro.

One solutions is to save current cell location in another cell through 1st marco. How to do this? And then through 2nd macro read address from another cell and navigate to this address. How to do this?

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