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Macros in Template Files

Kay wrote to describe a problem she was having with a template, a macro, and a toolbar button. It seems that Kay created a macro, saved it in the workbook, and assigned the macro to a toolbar button. When she later saved the workbook as a template, the toolbar button no longer worked properly if she deleted the original workbook.

When you create a macro, you have the opportunity to specify exactly where it should be stored. If you store it in a workbook and then later save the workbook as a template, the macro is still there because the workbook is converted to a template that contains all the original macros stored with the workbook.

The problem is with the toolbar button. When you create a toolbar button and assign a macro to it, Excel remembers where the macro is stored. When the workbook was originally created, the macro was stored in the workbook. This means that the toolbar button "points" to the macro in the workbook. Even after the workbook is saved as a template, the toolbar button still points to the macro in the workbook, not in the template.

To correct this situation, all you need to do is—after you save the workbook as a template—make sure you open the template and reassign macros to the toolbar buttons. These macros should be ones that reside in the template itself, not in any other workbook you have open at the time. You can then save the template and everything should work fine. You can reassign the macros by following these steps:

  1. Open the new template file. (Make sure you open the actual XLT file, and that you don't create a new XLS file based on the template.)
  2. Right-click the toolbar button that runs the macro.
  3. Choose Customize from the resulting Context menu. Excel displays the Customize dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Customize dialog box.

  5. Again right-click on the toolbar button that runs the macro.
  6. Choose Assign Macro from the resulting Context menu. Excel displays the Assign Macro dialog box.
  7. In the Macro Name box you will see the name of the macro assigned to the button. It should consist of a worksheet name (XLS) and the macro name, separated by an exclamation point. Change the worksheet name to the template name. (This may be as simple as changing the letters XLS to XLT.)
  8. Click on OK.
  9. Click on Close
  10. Resave your template.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2717) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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Comments for this tip:

Willy Vanhaelen    14 Feb 2016, 06:51
These tips refer only to Excel 97-2003.
For Excel 2007 and up, refer to: http://excelribbon.tips.net/

.XLAM is not a template but an add-in (Excel 2007 and up).

Templates in Excel 2007 and up can be saved as .XLTX (no macros) or .XLTM with macros.
Rolf    13 Feb 2016, 11:40
Well, this all worked fine for previous Excel versions. But as of Excel 2016, you can ONLY save with macros if the extension is .XLAM, whereas templates can only be named .xlsx (which can't contain macros.)

So, something like the template Personal.xl?? will not work -- unless you can find a trick. Please let me know if you have one!
jehad Zuqibeh    11 Apr 2013, 08:40

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