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Disabling Shift Key Use when Opening a Workbook

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Disabling Shift Key Use when Opening a Workbook.

The VBA capabilities of Excel are quite astounding. VBA is a full-blown programming language, which means you can do most anything with it. Some folks have even written entire applications in VBA; applications that build upon the Excel environment to accomplish a specific task.

If you've written such a system, you no-doubt rely on the automatic macros that run when you first start Excel or open a workbook. It is common to use these macros to configure the Excel environment and start the application running. It is frustrating to think that someone could disable your entire system simply by holding down the Shift key when opening the workbook. (Holding the Shift key disables any of the automatic macros associated with a workbook.)

There is no way in Excel to disable the shift-key bypass of startup macros. The reason is quite simple—security. If this feature could be blocked or disabled it would be possible for macro viruses to start running, without the user being able to do anything about it. This would be very bad.

One possible workaround is to not have the workbook do anything useful if the startup macros are not allowed to run. The default worksheet that displays when the workbook is opened should say something to the effect that the workbook must be opened with the macros enabled in order to function properly. The user could then be directed to close the workbook and try again.

In this default condition, the other worksheets in the workbook could be set to a "very hidden" state. This is done by setting the Visible property of each sheet to xlSheetVeryHidden. With this property set, the worksheets cannot be manually made visible; this can only be done via VBA.

If the user opens the workbook and the macros successfully run, they could hide the default worksheet or simply delete it. The macro could then unhide the "very hidden" worksheets, as necessary, to implement the application in the way desired.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3288) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Disabling Shift Key Use when Opening a Workbook.

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