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: Determining If a File Exists.

Determining If a File Exists

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 23, 2018)


As you are programming your macros, you may have a need to determine if a particular file exists on disk. For instance, the purpose of your macro may be to open and read from a text file. Before doing so, you will want to check to see if the file exists, in order to avoid an error.

The following VBA function can be used to check for the existence of a file. All you need to do is pass it the full filename as a string, and the macro returns either True (if the file exists) or False (if it doesn't).

Function FileThere(FileName As String) As Boolean
     FileThere = (Dir(FileName) > "")
End Function

This function works by using the Dir function, which checks for a file in a directory. If the file exists, then Dir returns the full path of the file. The True/False condition of the function is derived by comparing what Dir returns against an empty string. If something is returned, the file exists because Dir doesn't return an empty string.

You can use the function similar to the following:

If FileThere("c:\myfile.txt") Then
     ' Do stuff here
     MsgBox "File Not There!"
End If


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 (2516) 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: Determining If a File Exists.

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. ...


Avoiding Rounding Errors in Formula Results

Some formulas just don't give the results you expect. Sometimes this is due to the way that Excel handles rounding. ...

Discover More

Determining the Day of the Month

Want to figure out the day of the month represented by a particular date? You can use the Day function in VBA to get the ...

Discover More

Adding a User Account

Windows allows you to set up individual user accounts in case there are multiple people using the same computer. Here's ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Getting Rid of "Copy of"

When you save a read-only workbook file under a new name, Excel automatically adds "copy of" to the beginning of that ...

Discover More

Locked File Puzzle

What would you do if every time you opened a workbook Excel told you it was locked? Here's how you can try to recover ...

Discover More

Opening Non-Excel Files

Not all data is created in Excel. Indeed, you may have data in files created by many other types of programs. You might ...

Discover More

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

View most recent newsletter.


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 3 + 4?

2018-11-19 06:10:59

Alan Elston

Hello Dave,
Yes, as far as I know you’re right. – I have only seen it in the practice return a simple name. I don’t think there is any way to make it return a full path.
Actually what Dir seems to do is “return the thing it finds “There”” , where “There” is like in Dir(“There”). In other words what is at the Path you give it.
If you give it the full path and file name, as Allen Wyatt is suggesting, then all it can give you back is that one thing if it is there, which is your file. In other words, the only thing it finds at your file is your file
( I think Dir is a throw back to old computer stuff. I seem to remember that you typed Dir and something.. and then you got it back, or the path changed to it.. or something similar to that happened.. I don’t quite remember what… it was a long time ago..)
If Instead of giving Dir the full path and file name, I give it the full path like this,.._
Dir(ThisWorkbook.Path & "\")
Or this
_.. , then it will return me any file from that path. (It will return the first file there, or maybe it goes by alphabetical order - I am not sure how it organises the order)
By the way, I just took a look at the documentation and I see that Dir( ) has a second argument. As Allen Wyatt is not using that, then it defaults to vbNormal , like this in my last example:
Dir(ThisWorkbook.Path & "\", vbNormal)
Dir(“c:\”, vbNormal)
If I do it slightly differently like these .._
Dir(ThisWorkbook.Path & "\", vbDirectory)
Dir(“c:\”, vbDirectory)
_.. then folders are also included in what it looks for
In VBA I see Dir a lot in looping through files in a folder. That works nicely because of 2 characteristics of the VBA Dir
_1 The Dir takes a wild card in the first string argument in ( ) and returns initially the first thing that it finds that matches that search criteria.
_2 If you use just Dir on its own without the ( ) then it returns the next thing it finds that matches the last used search criteria

This code is like to find all Excel files

Sub Duh_XL()
Dim MeFiles As String, MeStrungOut As String
Let MeNextFile = Dir(ThisWorkbook.Path & "\*.xls*", vbNormal) ' Search criteria is all Excel files in the same folder as the workboook that this code is in
Do While MeNextFile <> "" '======
Let MeStrungOut = MeStrungOut & MeNextFile & vbCrLf
Let MeNextFile = Dir ' use of just Dir looks for next file which meets the last search criteria
Loop 'if MeNextFile <> "" '======
MsgBox prompt:="The found files were:" & vbCrLf & MeStrungOut: Debug.Print "The found files were:" & vbCrLf & MeStrungOut ' From XL Spreadsheet, Hit Alt+F11 to get in VB Editor. From in VB Editor hit Ctrl+g to get immediate window to see the Debug.Print ed stuff
End Sub

As far as I can tell, if you use this instead , in that last code, .._
MeNextFile = Dir(ThisWorkbook.Path & "\", vbDirectory)
_.. , then you get a complete list of everything there at the path
ThisWorkbook.Path & "\"
That includes Files , Folders and maybe other strange things .. .

Alan Elston

2018-11-18 13:29:22


Good tip - however, maybe a slight correction: "If the file exists, then Dir returns the full path of the file". Not so, Dir only returns the filename, eg, Dir("C:\myPath\myFile.txt") returns "myFile.txt".

2015-03-27 14:23:06


Thank you, it works great.

2014-07-15 17:28:42

Greg Yoder

Never mind I figured it out. Had to add the function to the end of my sub

2014-07-15 17:22:01

Greg Yoder

I am using Excel 2010. Writing a macro to load a file from c:temp.

When I try using FileThere I get the following Error.

Compile Error SubFunction not defined?

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

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.