Disabling Excel's Help System

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 23, 2018)

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.

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 (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

Word Slow to Open Documents

If you've noticed a slowdown in Word when it is opening a document, you probably would like to speed up the operation. ...

Discover More

Changing Your Name

One of the many pieces of information that Excel keeps track of is your name. If you want to change your name for Excel's ...

Discover More

Changing Compression Print Resolution

The resolution at which Word compresses graphics in a document may be bothersome. If it is, your options are very ...

Discover More

Professional Development Guidance! Four world-class developers offer start-to-finish guidance for building powerful, robust, and secure applications with Excel. The authors show how to consistently make the right design decisions and make the most of Excel's powerful features. Check out Professional Excel Development today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Thoughts and Ideas on Significant Digits in Excel

Ruminations and reflections about significant digits in Excel. Includes examples of how significant digits can affect the ...

Discover More

Generating Random Testing Data

Need to test your formulas? Then you need some testing data that you can use to see if the formulas function as you ...

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 ...

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 8 + 5?

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.