Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. 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: Working while a Macro is Running.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 10, 2020)
Macros are great for doing the mundane (or not so mundane) processing that is often necessary with Excel data. After you start to use them, you may find that running macros can consume quite a bit of time. While you are running them, there is very little else that you can do, since Excel won't allow you to do any other work while the macro is chunking away.
The best way to do additional work is to open another instance of Excel. As you are working on one workbook in the foreground, the other instance of Excel continues to work away at the macro in the background. This approach works because Windows allows multiple instances of a program, each in its own workspace. The only thing you cannot do is work in the foreground on the same workbook which the macro is using.
In order to open a second instance of Excel, simply follow the steps you followed to open the first instance. For example, if you started Excel by calling up the Start menu and then the Programs submenu, you could do the same thing to open the second instance.
You should realize that the macro running in the background instance of Excel will be affected by you working on a different instance of Excel in the foreground. This, again, is related to how Windows treats different programs. On most systems, the background programs are given a smaller percentage of the CPU's attention than the foreground program.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (11031) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Working while a Macro is Running.
Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!
Macros often need to select different cells in a worksheet. Here's how you can use macro commands to change which cell is ...Discover More
Need to know the address of the cell that is currently selected? The function and macro highlighted in this tip will come ...Discover More
Logical structures are important in programming, as they allow you to control how the programming statements are ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.