Disabling Excel's Help System

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 26, 2014)

Mark is a high school teacher and he wants to disable Excel's Help system during student tests. He wonders if there is an easy way to do this.

The answer is yes, there is a relatively easy way. You could set up a couple of macros that disable and restore the most common ways of opening the Help system. The following macros, DisableHelp and EnableHelp, do that.

Sub DisableHelp()
    EnableControl 984, False ' help
    EnableControl 1004, False ' Office Assistant
    Application.OnKey "{F1}", ""
End Sub
Sub EnableHelp()
    EnableControl 984, True ' help
    EnableControl 1004, True ' Office Assistant
    Application.OnKey "{F1}"
End Sub
Sub EnableControl(Id As Integer, Enabled As Boolean)
    Dim CB As CommandBar
    Dim C As CommandBarControl
    For Each CB In Application.CommandBars
        Set C = CB.FindControl(Id:=Id, recursive:=True)
        If Not C Is Nothing Then C.Enabled = Enabled
    Next
End Sub

Both of the main macros call the EnableControl macro. This macro does the actual work of removing the Help options from the menus and toolbars. Note that the main macros also use the OnKey method to disable (or restore) the functioning of the F1 function key. To use these macros, you can call them from a suitable event procedure, such as those that automatically run when a workbook is opened and closed.

Even with a macro such as this at work, you need to realize that the Help system is not totally disabled. The Help files still reside on disk and could be located via Windows and opened. (You don't even need Excel to open and view them.)

Typically the Excel Help files are stored in files that use the CHM file extension. Disabling the file can be as simple as locating the proper CHM help file on the disk and renaming it to something different.

For example, Excel may be installed on a certain machine in the directory "c:\program files\microsoft office\office11". The Help file for this installation of Excel can be found in "c:\program files\microsoft office\office11\1033". The main Excel file is XLMAIN11.CHM, but there may be other Help files (CHM extension) in the directory as well. All you need to do is to rename these files something such as XLMAIN11.XXX. Since the Help program cannot locate the file, it cannot display any help in Excel.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (3406) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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

Displaying the Selected Cell's Address

Need to know the address of the cell that is currently selected? There is no worksheet function to return this information, ...

Discover More

Pulling Initial Letters from a String

When working with names or a different series of words, you may need to pull the initial letters from each word in the ...

Discover More

Determining the Current Page Number

While your macro is processing the text in your document, you may need a way to determine the current page number where the ...

Discover More

Solve Real Business Problems Master business modeling and analysis techniques with Excel and transform data into bottom-line results. This hands-on, scenario-focused guide shows you how to use the latest Excel tools to integrate data from multiple tables. Check out Microsoft Excel 2013 Data Analysis and Business Modeling today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Hiding a Huge Number of Rows

Need to hide a large number of rows? It's easy to do if you combine a few keyboard shortcuts. Here are several techniques you ...

Discover More

Clearing Large Clipboard Entries

Need to clear out a large amount of information saved on the Clipboard? All you need to do is to replace it with a small ...

Discover More

Tasks for Each Workbook

Excel allows you to control how it uses the Windows Taskbar. This tip explains the two ways Excel can use the Taskbar and how ...

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 nine minus 3?

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.