Deleting Stubborn Links

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 15, 2020)
This tip applies to Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365


Max has a client to whom he e-mails a workbook. The client somehow adds local links to the workbook; they are not in what Max sends him. The links clearly show they are linked to the client's machine, and Max can't seem to delete the added links and the client can't either. (The client has no idea how they are being added.) When they become annoying enough, Max simply creates a new workbook and moves the data to the new workbook, and the process starts over again. Max wonders how he can remove the links that won't "break" and how he can prevent his client from adding such links.

There are actually two questions here: how to remove the links and how to prevent their addition. Finding and removing links can be a challenge because those links can exist in so, so many places. In fact, I wrote a complete tip about this some time ago; check it out: Uncovering and Removing Links. You can find some great information there (which I won't repeat here) on how to track down stubborn links. You may also find that using an add-in to help track down links, such as the one created by Bill Manville (FindLink), to be a good resource. You can find information about the add-in here:

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

As to how to stop the client from adding those links? My guess is that they are probably being added by the client copying information into Max's workbook. For instance:

  • The client is copying a range of cells from a different workbook into Max's workbook and those cells contain links.
  • The client is moving a copy of a worksheet from a different workbook into Max's workbook and that worksheet contains links.
  • The client is copying an image or other object and pasting it, with Excel using "paste as link" as the default because of the large size of the image or object.
  • The client is copying information from a Word document and using "paste as link" to place it in the workbook.

These are just a few common scenarios; there could be dozens of others. The key is knowing what the client is adding to the workbook and how the client is adding it. Once you know this, you can direct the client to either not add it or to add it differently (such as using "paste as text" or "paste values" instead of "paste as link").

If it seems impossible to get the client to change his or her pasting habits, then you may want to consider protecting your worksheets before sending the workbook. That way the cells cannot be changed. The client may still be able to add entire worksheets (depending on how you have protection applied), but in that case you would have a very good idea of where the links are located, knowing they are not on your protected worksheets.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7653) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Microsoft 365.

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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