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.

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.

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 (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.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Introducing the Organizer

The Organizer is a great tool for, well, organizing the information stored in your templates. This tip introduces the ...

Discover More

Changing Link References

If you use UNC paths in your links to external information, those paths may need to be changed at some point. You can ...

Discover More

Getting Identical Margins

Need to get the margins on your document exactly right? It can be a challenge to get the Word settings where you need ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Worksheet Events

You can create macros that are automatically executed whenever certain events occur within a worksheet. This tip details ...

Discover More

Showing RGB Colors in a Cell

Excel allows you to specify the RGB (red, green, and blue) value for any color used in a cell. Here's a quick way to see ...

Discover More

Replacing Some Formulas with the Formula Results

Macros are often used to process the data stored in a worksheet. Some of these processing needs can be pretty specific to ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one more than 7?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

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.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.