Skip to main content

Introduction to Excel Add-in

What is an Add-In?

A spreadsheet add-in is something added to a spreadsheet application to give it additional functionality. Excel ships with several add-ins. Examples include the Analysis ToolPak (which adds statistical and analysis capabilities) and Solver (which performs advanced optimization calculations).

Excel Add-in include Standard add-ins, COM add-ins and Office add-ins. Be aware that COM add-ins and Office add-ins can not be created with VBA. You need either Visual Basic.NET or Visual C++ to create COM add-ins. You use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create Office add-ins.

Add-in vs. standard workbook

You can create add-ins from Excel workbook files without additional software or programming tools. An Excel add-in is basically a normal XLSM workbook with the following differences:

  • The IsAddin property of the ThisWorkbook object is True. By default, this property is False.
  • The workbook window is hidden in such a way that it can't be unhidden by choosing the View > Window > Unhide command. This means you can't display worksheets or chart sheets contained in an add-in unless you write code to copy the sheet to a standard workbook.
  • You install and uninstall add-ins by using the Add-ins dialog box. When an add-in is installed, it remains installed across Excel sessions.
  • The Macro dialog box (invoked by choosing Developer > Code > Macros or View > Macros > Macros) doesn't display the names of the macros contained in an add-in.
  • Generally, custom functions work only in the workbook in which they are defined. A custom function added to an add-in is available to all open workbooks.
  • Usually, You can bypass your Workbook_Open code by holding down the Shift key while opening the workbook. With an add-in, they cannot bypass the Workbook_Open code in this manner.
  • After you use the Add-ins dialog box to install an add-in (by selecting File, Options, Add-Ins, Manage Excel Add-Ins, Go), the add-in will always be loaded and available.
  • Programs in an installed add-in can still run even if the macro security level is set to disallow macros.
  • An add-in isn't a member of the Workbooks collection. Rather, it's a member of the AddIns collection. However, you can access an add-in through the Workbooks collection.

About Excel Add-ins Manager

You can install and uninstall add-ins by using Excel's Add-ins dialog box. Which you access by using any of the following methods:

  • Launch Excel, then choose Developer > Add-ins group > Excel Add-ins to launch the "Add-ins" dialog box. If you don't find Developer tab, please read: Introduction to the Developer tab
  • Choose File > Options and select the Adds-ins item in the left-hand pane, In the Manage drop-down list at the bottom of the right-hand pane, select Excel Add-ins, then click the Go button.

You can install an add-in by selecting its check box, and you can uninstall an installed add-in by removing the check mark. To add an add-in to the list, use the Browse button to locate its file.

By default, the Add-ins dialog box lists files of the following types:

  • XLAM: An Excel 2007 or newer add-in created from an XLSM file
  • XLA: A pre–Excel 2007 add-in created from an XLS file
  • XLL: A stand-alone compiled DLL file

If you click the Automation button, you can browse for COM add-ins. Note that the Automation Servers dialog box will probably list many files, including COM add-ins that don't work with Excel.

The Add-in Manager stores the installed status of the add-ins in the Windows Registry when you exit Excel. Therefore, all add-ins that are installed when you close Excel are automatically opened the next time you start Excel.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Format your code: <pre><code class="language-vba">place your code here</code></pre>