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: Understanding Add-Ins.

Understanding Add-Ins

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 21, 2016)

6

Many features of Excel are available only through what are called add-ins. For instance, the Analysis ToolPak is a good example of an add-in. The tools available in add-ins such as the Analysis ToolPak are not part of the basic Excel system, but can be added to the system as needs dictate. These add-ins are nothing more than programs which have been "added to" Excel in such a way that they appear to be part of Excel itself.

You also know that macros are nothing more than programs that you write using a language understood by Excel. These programs instruct Excel to perform tasks that otherwise might be time consuming or repetitious on your part. These programs, if elaborate enough, can become full-fledged applications that operate under Excel.

Excel allows you to translate your macro programs into add-ins, which can become part of Excel—the same as the Analysis ToolPak and others. Eventually you might want to take advantage of this capability. The files you convert to add-ins do not need to be elaborate, nor do they have to be fancy. Converting them to add-ins does have several advantages, however:

  • The program code cannot be altered by others.
  • The program code runs a bit quicker.
  • The add-in is available without needing to open any particular workbook.
  • The functions provided by the add-in appear to be a part of Excel.

    In essence, add-ins are nothing but a special type of workbook which you have converted to an add-in format that is understood by Excel.

    You may want to make sure your macro code which is destined to be an add-in performs some initializing routine that modifies, in some way, the Excel user interface. For instance, an add-in may modify the ribbon structure used by Excel or it may add a selection to the Quick Access Toolbar so that the functions in the add-in can be accessed. Your macros should take care of the interface modification so that people can access your add-ins. If you don't modify the interface in some way, then users can only get to the macro code in your add-in by directly referencing in a worksheet formula the names of any functions in your add-in.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (8527) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Understanding Add-Ins.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Turning Off Comment Color when Printing

Comments that you add to your document are most often displayed in a bright color so they aren't easily missed. If you want ...

Discover More

Finding an Optimal Table Height

Word can adjust the height of individual rows in a table based on the information you put in each row. This may not result in ...

Discover More

Searching for Leading Apostrophes

Take a look at the Formula bar when you select a cell that contains text, and you may see an apostrophe at the beginning of ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Counting with Subtotals

There are a variety of ways you can count information in different groupings. One convenient way is to use the subtotaling ...

Discover More

Undoing Smart Tag Exclusions

Depending on who you ask, Smart Tags can be really cool or really distracting. If you fall on the "cool" side, you may make a ...

Discover More

Using Check Boxes

Check boxes, just like those used in Windows dialog boxes, can be a great addition to a worksheet. Here's how to add them and ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 6?

2016-03-25 10:15:51

allen@sharonparq.com

Scott: It is impossible to get a list of "available add-ins" because they aren't created just by Microsoft. They can be created by just about anyone who can problem a macro.

Case in point: The list that TomW supplied is a list of add-ins from that ONE company, not a comprehensive list of available add-ins.

-Allen


2016-03-25 07:16:49

TomW

For what it's worth, I just looked up this site with a list:
https://www.add-ins.com/product_list.htm.


2016-03-21 09:03:59

scott

It would have been nice had a listing of available add-ins and what they can do been incorporated in the tip.


2013-09-27 07:03:45

Shravan Kumar Yadav

I want to know how any add-ins may be converted as macros. Because I have to work on different computer and when any add-ins is available at one computer, it does not work at another. Second problem comes when i leave one computer and delete add-ins each time excel asks about it.


2013-07-05 21:45:01

JULIAN GARCIA

Everyone using Excel should use the ASAP add on.
You can find it at
http://www.asap-utilities.com/
I have been using it for years. It has saved me hundred of hours of application design.


2013-06-22 10:03:37

Robert Ilechuku

At work 2 days ago I spotted that the "EoMonth" and "NetWorkDays" worksheet functions, previously only available in the Analysis Toolpak Addin, had been re-created as intrinsic Excel 2010 worksheet functions.

As a matter of fact, because I was migrating an Excel 2003 application to Excel 2010, Excel assumed that my pre-existing Excel 2003 version was a user-defined function in conflict with its own worksheet version of "EoMonth". Imagine that!


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.