How to Enable Macros in Excel Safely

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Performing tasks manually in Excel can be a pain, but fortunately, this Microsoft Office application offers many features that can help you automate time-consuming and boring tasks.

One of these features is macros, which you can use to store commands related to tasks you perform regularly. You can then run the macros to repeat the actions you want to perform. In this guide, we will examine this feature and ways to enable it for use in detail.


What are macros in Excel?

Excel is known for automating complex tasks, and macros are one of the many components of Excel that take automation to the next level. You can automate repetitive tasks like calculating your employees’ performance bonus at the end of each month.

However, although it may seem convenient, macros are quite risky. Running malicious code (usually ones you didn’t create yourself) can infect your entire operating system and hard drive, causing serious problems.

Below, we’ll look at ways to enable macros safely. As a general rule, you should only enable macros that you have carefully reviewed and are sure are safe.

How to Enable Macros in Excel

In Excel, macros can be enabled quite easily for files. All you have to do is make changes in Excel’s Privacy Center.

1. Enable Macros in Windows

If you’re a Windows user, here’s how to enable macros and start using them:

  1. In Excel, click Case and select Choice from the left pane.
  2. Picking out Customize the ribbon in the left pane and check the box Developer option in the Main Tabs section.
  3. Once done, return to the Excel Options dialog box and choose Trust Center from the left pane.
  4. Click on Trust Center Settings.
  5. Now choose Macro settings and select the Enable all macros (not recommended: potentially dangerous code may run) option in the right pane.
  6. Click on OKAY to save changes.

If you are unsure which option to choose when enabling macros, here is a brief explanation of what all the options mean:

  • Disable all macros without notification— macros and their associated security alerts are disabled.
  • Disable all macros with notification— macros will be disabled by default and you will be notified if any are enabled. With this feature, you have the option to enable macros in some cases.
  • Disable all macros except digitally signed macros— only macros signed by a trusted publisher will be allowed to run.
  • Enable all macros (not recommended, potentially dangerous code may run)– all macros are allowed to run and you will not receive a security warning beforehand.

Once done, it’s time to start recording the macro. The process is similar to using macros in Word. To do this, follow these steps below:

  1. Go back to your Excel file and head to the Developer tongue.
  2. Click on Record a macro.
  3. In the next dialog, enter a name for the macro, choose a shortcut key, and select a location. Click on OKAY to save changes.
  4. You are now ready to start recording orders. Once all the commands have been saved, choose stop recording.


2. Enable macros on Mac

The process for enabling macros on Mac is slightly different from the steps we performed above. You can check this article to enable macros in Excel on Mac.

Once you enable macros on macOS, you can either manually record macros or use VBA code for this purpose.

How to enable macros for a session

There may be cases where you have files that you want to run a macro on only during the time you are using them. If you no longer need the file in the future, you can enable macros for a single session. Here’s how:

  1. In Excel, choose Case in the top pane and select information.
  2. Expand the Security Warning option and select Allow content.
  3. Click on Advanced options.
  4. In the next dialog box, click the Enable content for this session option to activate it and press OKAY.

This should enable macros for the current session successfully.

How to enable macros for a specific file

If you want to enable macros for an individual file or workbook only, using Office Backstage view is the easiest way to do so. Here’s how:

  1. With an Excel workbook open, click Case in the upper pane.
  2. Select information in the next window.
  3. Expand the Security Warning option and select Activate all content.

That should do the trick for you. If you find this method complicated, you can also simply click on the yellow security warning in the workbook that says “Macros have been disabled”. Click on the Allow content button associated with the message, and in the next dialog box, click Enable Macros.

How to Enable Macros in a Trusted Location Permanently

Another way to enable macros that ensures security is to choose a trusted location in the operating system and manipulate Excel to trust only that location.

This means that only files located in the selected location will be launched with macros already enabled. You will also not receive a security warning when opening these files.

  1. In Excel, click Case and select Choice from the left pane.
  2. Select Trust Center in the next dialog box.
  3. Click on Trust Center Settings.
  4. Choose Trusted locations from the left pane and click Add a new location button on the right side of the window.
  5. In the next dialog box, click the Browse and choose a location based on your preferences.
  6. Once you have chosen a location, check the box associated with Subfolders in this location are also trusted.
  7. Enter a description in the text field under Description and click OKAY to save changes.

Automate hectic tasks with macros

Like other Excel functions, macros can also seem intimidating to activate and use at first, but that’s not the case. With the methods we mentioned above, you can start using them in just a few minutes!

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