Hyperlinks in Comments

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 13, 2020)


Excel makes it rather easy to insert a hyperlink into a cell. You may, however, want to actually add a hyperlink to a comment instead of to a cell. This can also be done; the trick is to make sure that the only thing contained in the comment is the hyperlink itself.

Note that Microsoft changed the way comments work in Excel in Office 365. Comments are now threaded allowing users to have discussions with each other regarding the data. Notes work like comments in earlier versions of Excel. The following steps apply both to earlier versions of Excel using comments and to Excel for Office 365 using notes:

  1. Right-click on the cell that you want to contain the comment. Excel displays a Context menu.
  2. Choose Insert Comment or New Note from the Context menu. Excel adds the comment/note and places the insertion point within the comment/note box.
  3. Press the Backspace key enough times that you delete the username. The insertion point should be at the very beginning of the cell.
  4. Type the URL you want to use for the hyperlink.
  5. Press the Delete key a few times to delete any non-printing characters that may exist after the insertion point in the comment/note box.
  6. Click a different cell. The comment/note should disappear.
  7. Right-click the same cell to which you added the comment/note (the same cell as in step 1). Excel displays a Context menu.
  8. Choose Show/Hide Comment/Note from the Context menu. The comments/notes in your worksheet are displayed.

Now you can click on the comment/note that contains the URL and Excel helpfully opens the browser and displays whatever is at that URL. You needed to perform steps 7 and 8 because you need to hover the mouse pointer over the comment/note containing the URL (in order to click it) and you can't hover over a comment/note that isn't displayed.

If you still cannot get the hyperlink to activate successfully, there are two probable culprits. First, you need to make sure that the hyperlink itself is initially the only thing in the comment/note. (More on that in a moment.) That is why you need to perform steps 3 and 5 in the above sequence of steps. The other possible culprit is that you didn't put in a URL that Excel could recognize as a URL.

Now, more on the URL being the only thing in the comment/note. Interestingly enough, once you get the URL to work properly you are free to change the text that the comment/note contains. So, for instance, when I created a comment/note that contained the URL "www.tips.net" (without the quote marks) and nothing else, I could then click on the comment/note and the webpage was displayed. I could then go back, right-click the comment/note to edit it and change the text to something else (such as "Let's go to Tips.net"). Even though the URL was no longer visible, the link was still active in the comment/note and clicking on the comment/note displayed the Tips.net webpage.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (9086) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 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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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 three less than 9?

2021-05-30 12:10:38

J. Woolley

You might be interested in the freely available CommentHyperlink macro in My Excel Toolbox, which automates the technique described in this Tip to create or update a hyperlink attached to the active cell's unthreaded Comment (Note). The hyperlink can be any protocol URL like mailto:..., http://..., ftp://..., etc., or a [FILE]#'SHEET'!RANGE address like
[A Book.xlsx]#'A Sheet'!A1:C3 or #Sheet1!Total" or #E5 or MyDoc.docx#SectionD or Contract.pdf. The Comment's original formatted text will be restored. See https://sites.google.com/view/MyExcelToolbox/

2021-02-14 10:14:27


Can you create a hyperlink to another worksheet in the workbook within a comment?

2020-06-18 12:28:36

Bob Williams

Wonderful little article about putting hyperlinks in cell comments! When I tried it, it did not work. Finally found the culprit, which you should mention in your article. Under "File / Options | Proofing [AutoCorrect Options] | Autoformat as your type" is a box under "Replace as your type" about hyperlinks that has to be checked for your instructions to work.
The other trivial thing to note is that you cannot edit the comment by holding down the left mouse button as you can with a URL in a cell. You must use right-click / Edit Text.
Bob Williams

2020-06-15 12:42:21


Great tip! Who would have thunk that, after you strip down the comment to the bare URL and use it, then you could still embellish it to make it a real comment again.

2020-06-14 07:54:17


Another possibility for urls not being active in notes is if the internet/email has been disabled in auto-correct. Rare but possible.

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