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: Changing Link References.

Changing Link References

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 28, 2015)

An ExcelTips reader wrote about a problem their company was having with links in their workbooks. It seems that their links were showing up as UNC paths to files instead of as mapped drive letters. This initially posed no problem, but when the files were moved to a new network server in preparation for changing the network configuration, the UNC paths no longer worked.

Fortunately, Excel has a very powerful search and replace feature. It is so powerful, it even works on OLE links in your worksheet. For instance, let's say your links in some cells looked like this:

='\\proserver\Excel\mystuff\[WordTips.xlsx]Sheet1!B25

If the server name is changing or the data is being moved to a different server, this can present a problem. And, unfortunately, the Edit Links tool (On the Data tab of the ribbon) is a real pain at times. You can quickly change all UNC references in the worksheet by searching for the UNC path (in this case, "\\proserver\Excel\mystuff\") and replacing it with your desired mapped drive letter (for instance, "q:\"). The result is links that all of a sudden point to the proper location.

There is one "gottcha" to be aware of. The UNC path is very specific, and will work regardless of what computer is connected to a network. However, it is possible for different computers to have different drive letters mapped for the same network destination. For instance, one workstation might have \\proserver\Excel\ mapped to drive S:, and another workstation may have it mapped to T:. If you change all the links to S:, then the workstations that don't use drive S: for mapping to that location will not be able to access the file.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10519) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Changing Link References.

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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