Disappearing Toolbar Buttons for Macros

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 16, 2023)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Gary wrote about a frustration he experienced with Excel. He had some macros, stored in his Personal.xls workbook, that were assigned to some custom toolbar buttons. Out of the blue, the macros disappeared, and Gary couldn't figure out why.

There are any number of reasons why this could happen, so it is very hard to narrow down to a definitive answer. There are a few things to check, however.

Toolbar customizations are stored in a file with an extension .XLB. The main portion of the file name varies based on your version of Excel and Windows. The name may be something like excel10.xlb or some name containing your user ID and a version number. It is usually on the C:\ drive and often in Windows folder or in a personal settings folder (on my system it is C:\Documents and Settings\Allen L. Wyatt\Application Data\Microsoft\Excel\Excel11.xlb.)

The XLB file may become corrupt for various reasons. Because of this, it is a good idea to make a backup of the file so that if it ever gets modified unintentionally or somehow gets corrupted, you can just delete the old one and rename the backup.

The XLB file can be "lost" in various ways. Most often it is due to sloppy programming. Some programmers may decide to make changes to the toolbars to add their own customizations, or they may decide to change the configuration of Excel's menus. All these changes get written to the XLB file, and this is not normally a problem. It can become a problem, however, if Excel ends abnormally and the programmer's code doesn't restore the toolbars or menus in the way it should.

Even if Excel doesn't exit abnormally, there could still be problems introduced by the programmer's code. Excel does not include a command to restore the toolbars to some saved configuration. Programmers often write code to check out the status of all the toolbars and then reverse the steps to get back to that condition, but if the code has errors in it, then the toolbars may be left in an unstable or (worse yet) unusable condition. This is bad.

The solution is to rely on your backup of the XLB file. You need to make sure that you save the file so that you can restore it if you detect a problem with the toolbars or menus. If you make any changes that you want to keep, make a new backup of the XLB file. This is nothing but cheap insurance.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the ExcelTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2368) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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