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: DOS from Macros.

DOS From Macros

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 19, 2015)

Macros are a wonderful way to expand the functionality of a program such as Excel. You may, however, want to expand that functionality even more by executing a DOS batch file from your macro. Excel allows you to do this by using the Shell command. The general syntax for the command is as follows:

dRetVal = Shell("myfile.bat", mode)

Within the quote marks you can place the full path name and file name of the file you want to execute. On some systems you may experience problems if you use a path name with the file specification. (This seems to crop its ugly head if you have complex path names or if the path name includes spaces.) If you have this problem, then simply use the ChDir command just prior to Shell in order to change the directory used by Excel. You can then execute Shell using just a file name.

The mode indicator simply tells Excel how you want the window opened for the file to appear. The mode indicator can be any of the following:

Value Variable Nam Meaning
0 vbHide Window is hidden and has focus.
1 vbNormalFocus Window is the normal size and has focus.
2 vbMinimizedFocus Window is minimized and has focus.
3 vbMaximizedFocus Window is maximized and has focus.
4 vbNormalNoFocus Window is normal size, but doesn't have focus.
6 vbMinimizedNoFocus Window is minimized, but doesn't have focus.

The Shell command returns a value that indicates the program ID of the file you executed, or else a zero. If a zero is returned, then there was an error executing the file.

You should remember that when you use Shell, the target file is executed right away, and it is executed independently of Excel. This means that the next macro command, in your Excel macro, is immediately executed without waiting for the Shell target file to finish. Unfortunately, there is no way around this behavior.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2506) 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: DOS from Macros.

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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