Forcing a Macro to Run when a Worksheet is Recalculated

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 11, 2021)


When you write a macro, it is designed to be run whenever you choose to run it. What if you need to develop a macro that will run whenever something changes in your worksheet? This is particularly necessary if you are creating a custom function that you want to use within the cells of the worksheet.

This is where it is important to understand what is meant by function volatility. Excel considers a function to be volatile if its value cannot be assumed to be the same from one moment to the next. The following worksheet functions are considered to be volatile in nature:

  • CELL
  • INFO
  • NOW

    Even though the list looks short, there is some controversy over what worksheet functions are actually volatile and which ones aren't. The following short article is helpful in understanding this:

    What do worksheet functions have to do with macros? Well, you can create a macro that is a UDF (user-defined function) that may fit into the category of not having a value that "can be assumed to be the same from one moment to the next." By default, Excel assumes that any macro you create is non-volatile. This may not be the case, however. Consider the following single-line UDF:

    Function FutureDay(D As Integer) As Double
        FutureDay = Now() + D
    End Function

    All this does is determine the time, right now, and add an integer value to that time in order to deternine a future (or past) date and time. You might call this UDF in a worksheet in this manner:


    That returns a date/time value 7 days in the future. When your worksheet recalculates, though, the UDF doesn't recalculate. This means that the date/time value in the cell is no longer accurate.

    The solution is to tell Excel that your UDF is volatile. You do this by adding a single line to the macro:

    Function FutureDay(D As Integer) As Double
        FutureDay = Now() + D
    End Function

    Now when Excel recalculates the worksheet, it will force a recalculation of your UDF, as well.

    You should note that you should only use the Volatile method sparingly in your macros. It doesn't hurt anything to use it everywhere, except it adds additional work to the recalculation of your worksheets. To make sure things run as quickly as possible, just use Volatile where you determine that it is really needed.


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 (10598) 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. ...


Printing Odd or Even Pages

When you print a worksheet, Excel normally prints all the pages or a consecutive series of pages that you specify. If you ...

Discover More

Telling which Worksheets are Selected

If your macro processes information on a number of worksheets, chances are good that you need your macro to figure out ...

Discover More

Checking for Missing Quotation Marks

Word provides handy spelling and grammar checkers. The grammar checker won't catch everything, however. One thing it ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Pulling First Letters from Parenthetical Text

When working with text in Excel, you can slice and dice it in many ways. This tip shows how to pull first letters from ...

Discover More

Determining the Day of the Month

Want to figure out the day of the month represented by a particular date? You can use the Day function in VBA to get the ...

Discover More

Worksheet Events

You can create macros that are automatically executed whenever certain events occur within a worksheet. This tip details ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) 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 9 - 3?

2021-12-13 04:18:50


I presume a UDF will recalculate should any of it's parameters change? E.g. if your "=FutureDay(had a cell reference here)"?

2021-12-11 11:14:34

J. Woolley

I have an issue with the word Macro in the title of this Tip. It should be UDF or User-Defined Function.
The definition of Macro should be consistent with the list of procedures in the Macro dialog that results when you press Alt+F8. In particular, these are Public Sub procedures without parameters; for example,
Public Sub MyMacro()
A UDF is a Public Function procedure that might have parameters; for example, the Tip's FutureDay procedure is a UDF. Application.Volatile is effective only in a UDF that is referenced in a cell formula.

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

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.