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: Recovering Macros from Corrupted Workbooks.

Recovering Macros from Corrupted Workbooks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 21, 2016)

Devarajan ran into a situation where a workbook became corrupted, but he wanted to recover the macro module that was associated with the workbook. (The macros represented quite a bit of development time.) Devarajan wondered how the module could be recovered.

The answer depends, in large part, on how corrupted the workbook really is and where the corruption is located within the workbook. Much has been written about how to recover corrupted workbooks; the following resources will be of interest in this regard:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/142117 (for Excel 97)
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/179871 (for Excel 2000)
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/820741 (for Excel 2002 and 2003)
http://www.jkp-ads.com/Articles/CorruptFiles.asp

Most of these pages refer specifically to recovering data, not to recovering the macros in a module associated with a workbook. (It is interesting that the Microsoft Knowledge Base doesn't have any articles on recovering data from a corrupted Excel 2007 workbook. Perhaps one will come, with time.) One thing that you might try in order to get your macros is the following:

  1. Open Excel, but not the problem workbook.
  2. Set the calculation mode to manual (Tools | Options | Calculation tab | Manual).
  3. Set the security setting to High (Tools | Macro | Security | High).
  4. Open the troublesome workbook. If it opens successfully, you should see a notice that the macros were disabled. (If the workbook doesn't open, then you might as well shut Excel down; this series of steps won't work.)
  5. Press Alt+F11 to display the VBA Editor.
  6. In the Project Explorer, locate the module you want to save.
  7. Right-click the module name and choose Export File.
  8. Provide a name and location of where to save the module.
  9. Close the VBA Editor and get out of Excel.
  10. With the module saved in its own file, you can now import it into another workbook, as desired.

Another way to attempt recovery is to use OpenOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Office. The spreadsheet program in OpenOffice will open Excel files, and it isn't as sensitive to some corruption issues.

If this still doesn't work, try using a low-level file manipulation tool that allow you to read files sector by sector from a disk, and then allow you to see the information in each sector. With most types of files this won't be very helpful. In fact, it wouldn't help you recover any data from an Excel workbook. Recovering macros is a different story, however. They are stored in the workbook in plain ASCII text, so you should be able to recognize the macro code and then copy it from the disk tool.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2399) 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: Recovering Macros from Corrupted Workbooks.

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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