Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Replacing Links with Values.

Replacing Links with Values

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 20, 2024)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

John has a large number of workbooks that have links in them and they are getting very large. He wonders if there is any way for Excel to convert the links to the data grabbed from those links so he can archive the old workbooks.

One thing to try is to open the workbooks that contain the links and then use Excel's tools to break the links. Make sure you keep a backup of your workbook (in case you mess things up) and follow these steps:

  1. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the Edit Links tool, in the Connections group (Excel 2007, Excel 2010, or Excel 2013) or in the Queries & Connections group (Excel 2016 and later versions). Excel displays the Edit Links dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Edit Links dialog box.

  4. Select the links in the dialog box.
  5. Click Break Links and acknowledge that you really want to break the selected links.
  6. Click OK.

The result is that all the links are done away with, but the values last retrieved through the links remain in the workbook.

Another approach is to use Paste Special to "overwrite" your links. (This works well if you have a limited number of links in a worksheet.) Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells that contain links.
  2. Press Ctrl+C.
  3. Display the Paste Special dialog box. (On the Home tab of the ribbon click the down-arrow under the Paste tool and choose Paste Special.) (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Paste Special dialog box.

  5. Click the Values radio button.
  6. Click OK.

If you have quite a few links in your workbook, then you will want to use a macro to do the link breaking. The following is an example of a simple macro to do the breaking:

Sub BreakLinks()
    Dim aLinksArray As Variant

    aLinksArray = ActiveWorkbook.LinkSources(Type:=xlLinkTypeExcelLinks)
    Do Until IsEmpty(aLinksArray)
        ActiveWorkbook.BreakLink Name:=aLinksArray(1), _
          Type:=xlLinkTypeExcelLinks
        aLinksArray = _
          ActiveWorkbook.LinkSources(Type:=xlLinkTypeExcelLinks)
    Loop
End Sub

It is important to remember, though, that links can be tricky. Links to other workbooks can be in formulas, names, charts, text boxes, and other objects, both visible and hidden, and in different combinations within formulas and those objects. Getting all the links and breaking them depends on the complexity of your workbook. If you have a complex workbook, then you may benefit by using the FindLink add-in created by Excel MVP Bill Manville. You can find it here:

https://www.manville.org.uk/software/findlink.htm

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7566) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Excel in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Replacing Links with Values.

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 3 + 0?

2024-04-20 11:04:06

J. Woolley

The following dynamic array function in My Excel Toolbox lists external links:
    =ListExLinks([SkipReference], [SkipHeader])
The result is similar to the Edit Links dialog minus its Update column (see Figure 1 above), but ListExLinks adds a Reference column to identify cells that contain a formula referencing the link. (If optional SkipReference is TRUE, the Reference column will be excluded.)
When using pre-2021 versions of Excel without support for dynamic arrays, review the PDF file UseSpillArray.pdf.
My Excel Toolbox also includes the LinksToMe macro to identify all workbooks with an external data link referencing the active workbook.
See https://sites.google.com/view/MyExcelToolbox


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