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: Running Macros in the Background.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 16, 2019)
When you run a macro in Excel, the program turns its full attention to completing the macro. (Sounds almost anthropomorphic, doesn't it?) This means that if the macro does quite a bit of heavy-duty processing of your data, it can seem as if your system has "locked up" during the processing of the macro.
Rest assured that the macro processing is only affecting Excel, however. You can open a different application and work within it while the macro chunks away in Excel in the background. Of course, the attention being paid to the macro by your system will probably slow down the response of the other program, but this depends on the version of Windows you are using on your system. The reason? Sharing of resources requires a process known as multitasking. Different versions of Windows handle multitasking in different ways.
You may wonder how you can do other work in Excel while the program is busy running a macro. Easy—just open another instance of Excel (run it again from your Start menu) and do some other work. All you need to do is make sure that you don't try to work on the same workbook (or workbooks) being utilized by the macros in your first instance of Excel.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2513) 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: Running Macros in the Background.
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Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.