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: Recovering Macros from Corrupted Workbooks.

Recovering Macros from Corrupted Workbooks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 30, 2019)


Devarajan ran into a situation where a workbook became corrupted, but he wanted to recover the macro module that was associated with the workbook. (The macros represented quite a bit of development time.) Devarajan wondered how the module could be recovered.

The answer depends, in large part, on how corrupted the workbook really is and where the corruption is located within the workbook. Much has been written about how to recover corrupted workbooks; the following resources will be of interest in this regard:

These pages refer specifically to recovering data, not to recovering the macros in a module associated with a workbook. One thing that you might try in order to get your macros is the following:

  1. Open Excel, but not the problem workbook.
  2. Set the calculation mode to manual (Formulas tab | Calculation group | Calculation Options | Manual).
  3. Set the security setting to High (Developer tab | Code group | Macro Security | Macro Settings | Disable All Macros without Notification).
  4. Open the troublesome workbook. If it opens successfully, you should see a notice that the macros were disabled. (If the workbook doesn't open, then you might as well shut Excel down; this series of steps won't work.)
  5. Press Alt+F11 to display the VBA Editor.
  6. In the Project Explorer, locate the module you want to save.
  7. Right-click the module name and choose Export File.
  8. Provide a name and location of where to save the module.
  9. Close the VBA Editor and get out of Excel.
  10. With the module saved in its own file, you can now import it into another workbook, as desired.

Another way to attempt recovery is to use OpenOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office. The spreadsheet program in OpenOffice will open Excel files, and it isn't as sensitive to some corruption issues.

If this still doesn't work, try using a low-level file manipulation tool that allow you to read files sector by sector from a disk, and then allow you to see the information in each sector. With most types of files this won't be very helpful. In fact, it wouldn't help you recover any data from an Excel workbook. Recovering macros is a different story, however. They are stored in the workbook in plain ASCII text, so you should be able to recognize the macro code and then copy it from the disk tool.


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 (12712) 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: Recovering Macros from Corrupted Workbooks.

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. ...


Debugging a Macro

Part of writing macros is to make sure they work as you expect. This involves a process known as debugging. Here's how ...

Discover More

Appending to a Non-Excel Text File

Does your macro need to add information to the end of a text file? This is called appending and is done using the ...

Discover More

Alerts About Approaching Due Dates

You may use Excel to track due dates for a variety of purposes. As a due date approaches, you may want that fact drawn to ...

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)

Retrieving Drive Statistics

Need to gather some information about the drives on a system? It can be pretty easy to do using a macro, as shown in this ...

Discover More

Creating and Naming a Worksheet Using a Macro

You can use macros to make your common Excel tasks easier and faster. For instance, if you routinely need to create new ...

Discover More

Cropping Graphics in a Macro

Excel allows you to easily paste graphics into a worksheet. Once added, you may want to quickly process the graphics by ...

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}] 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 two less than 8?

2020-06-22 11:24:27

James McNemar

When I opened my xlsm this morning, it appeared OK, no error messages... But when I went to add more code - poof, it was all gone. Every module was empty. I tried exporting, it wouldn't even save an empty file. When I tried to view code on a form, received message that object not found. Then when I tried to close the file to try reopening, received "catastrophic error" message. File wouldn't close, sheets wouldn't "copy". Had to kill Excel task. Reopening file resulted in same outcome. So I found this post and, much to my surprise, the steps worked. When I opened the file with the Macros disabled, the code was all there again. Thank you! Don't understand the why or the how, but just happy that I was able to recover everything. Thank you again.

2020-02-11 05:19:18

David Patras

I just encountered similar issue. Steps above didn't help me. What helped was to open the excel file in older and clean Office version (o365, ver. 1906) and save it again - thus removing anything that was corrupt in the file.

2019-08-01 02:44:49

Sam Benson


I've had a couple of issues with corrupted Excel macro files over the last 6 months and have found the following works (though for non-technical it is a bit involved)

1. Install python 3 and get a copy of the oletools package
2. Make a copy of the corrupted file and put in an empty directory
3. olevba -c <name of file.xlsm> > <file to save code into.txt
4. Rename the corrupted xlsm file to zip file.
5. Within the zip file under xl directory delete the vbaProject.bin file
6. Save the zip file and rename back to xlsm (effectively have deleted all excel modules and classes)
7. Open up the renamed file in Excel
8. Import the text file from 3 above into Excel and edit as required.

It is not perfect but has saved me having to re-write/ rebuild / re-record macros from scratch.

Could probably use olevba to backup all the Excel macro code and save problems when codes does fail.

2019-03-31 03:11:36


Use the MACRO MOVER addin to recover an entire VBA project even from a corrupted workbook that won't open or load (given that its VBA project is intact). Locked VBA projects can be recovered as well. VBA projects can be exported intact, along with code, forms, references, protection settings and compilation directives.

Click 'Export Macros' and select the corrupted workbook, then import the exported [vbaProject.bin] to a 'healthy' macro-enabled workbook.

"...Recovering macros is a different story, however. They are stored in the workbook in plain ASCII text, so you should be able to recognize the macro code and then copy it from the disk tool"

=> No, VBA is stored in a compressed format called RLE, which is not fully readable by text or Hex editors.

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.