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: Finding Unused Names.

Finding Unused Names

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 30, 2019)

4

Richard has a workbook that he's been using for a while, and it has quite a few names in it (named ranges, named formulas, etc.). He wonders if there is an easy way to find names that are not used at all, as he'd like to get rid of those names.

There is no built-in way to get rid of these unused names. You can, however, create a macro that will do the trick for you. This is most easily done by using the Find method to figure out which names have references that can be "found." If the reference cannot be found, then the name is not in use.

Sub RidOfNames()
    Dim myName As Name
    Dim fdMsg As String

    On Error Resume Next
    fdMsg = ""
    For Each myName In Names
        If Cells.Find(What:=myName.Name, _
          After:=ActiveCell, _
          LookIn:=xlFormulas, _
          LookAt:=xlPart, _
          SearchOrder:=xlByRows, _
          SearchDirection:=xlNext, _
          MatchCase:=False, _
          SearchFormat:=False).Activate = False Then
            fdMsg = fdMsg & myName.Name & vbCr
            ActiveWorkbook.Names(myName.Name).Delete
        End If
    Next myName
    If fdMsg = "" Then
        MsgBox "No unused names found in the workbook"
    Else
        MsgBox "Names Deleted:" & vbCr & fdMsg
    End If
End Sub

The macro steps through all the elements of the Names collection and does a search for each name. If the name cannot be found, then the name is deleted. When the macro is completed, it displays a message box that lists the names that were removed from the workbook.

If you would rather not create your own macro, you can opt to use a free add-in by Jan Karel Pieterse. The add-in, called Name Manager, allows you to (guess what?) manage names better than you can do with native Excel. One of the functions it provides is the ability to get rid of names that are no longer needed. You can find the add-in here:

http://www.jkp-ads.com/OfficeMarketPlaceNM-EN.asp

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 (3312) 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: Finding Unused Names.

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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Comments

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What is three less than 9?

2020-07-23 11:35:14

Michel Goes

1. It must be noted that a named range can have the same name as a built-in Excel function. E.g. I can name my named range SUM i.e. exactly as the SUM function. So if a formula uses the SUM function but the SUM named range is not used anywhere in the worksheet/workbook, it is believed to be used while in fact it is not.
2. Another point is that a formula can contain a string literal which can potentially contain a string of characters matching the name of a defined named range. This also results this named range believed to be used while in fact it is potentially not.


2020-06-06 06:38:43

Willy Vanhaelen

THIS IS A VERY DANGEROUS MACRO. I tested it in a workbook with many names and it deleted most of them because they were only used in vba code. It also deleted one used in a conditional format formula.


2020-06-05 12:06:56

Marco

This macro doesn't seem to cope with names used in different sheets. It removed all names from my workbook, and a lot of things stopped working.


2019-05-17 09:56:17

Andrew

However, this macro would incorrectly delete named ranges which are only used on data validation formulae?

Please kindly clarify.

Andrew


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