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Replacing Links with Values

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: Replacing Links with Values.

John has a large number of workbooks that have links in them and they are getting very large. He wonders if there is any way for Excel to convert the links to the data grabbed from those links so he can archive the old workbooks.

One thing to try is to open the workbooks that contain the links and then use Excel's tools to break the links. Make sure you keep a backup of your workbook (in case you mess things up) and follow these steps:

  1. Open the workbook you want to affect.
  2. Choose the Links option from the Edit menu. Excel displays the Edit Links dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Edit Links dialog box.

  4. Select the links in the dialog box.
  5. Click Break Links and acknowledge that you really want to break the selected links.
  6. Click OK.

The result is that all the links are done away with, but the values last retrieved through the links remain in the workbook.

Another approach is to use Paste Special to "overwrite" your links. (This works well if you have a limited number of links in a worksheet.) Follow these steps:

  1. Select the cells that contain links.
  2. Press Ctrl+C.
  3. Choose Paste Special from the Edit menu. Excel displays the Paste Special dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  4. Figure 2. The Paste Special dialog box.

  5. Click the Values radio button.
  6. Click OK.

If you have quite a few links in your workbook, then you will want to use a macro to do the link breaking. The following is an example of a simple macro to do the breaking:

Sub BreakLinks()
    Dim aLinksArray As Variant

    aLinksArray = ActiveWorkbook.LinkSources(Type:=xlLinkTypeExcelLinks)
    Do Until IsEmpty(aLinksArray)
        ActiveWorkbook.BreakLink Name:=aLinksArray(1), _
        aLinksArray = _
End Sub

It is important to remember, though, that links can be tricky. Links to other workbooks can be in formulas, names, charts, text boxes, and other objects, both visible and hidden, and in different combinations within formulas and those objects. Getting all the links and breaking them depends on the complexity of your workbook. If you have a complex workbook, then you may benefit by using the FindLink add-in created by Excel MVP Bill Manville. You can find it here:


ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7537) 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: Replacing Links with Values.

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Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!


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