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

Setting the Right Indent of a Paragraph in a Macro

Need to format your document using a macro? You can easily set the right margin for an individual paragraph by using the ...

Discover More

Setting Up Your Printer

Word allows you to take full advantage of the capabilities of your printer. Accessing those capabilities is done through ...

Discover More

Setting Spell-Checking Options

Like many things in Word, you can configure the way the spelling checker does its job. If you want to exercise more ...

Discover More

Save Time and Supercharge Excel! Automate virtually any routine task and save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Then, learn how to make Excel do things you thought were simply impossible! Mastering advanced Excel macros has never been easier. Check out Excel 2010 VBA and Macros today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Always Open at 100% Zoom

Tired of shared workbooks opening at some strange zoom factor that makes viewing your data difficult? Here's how to make ...

Discover More

Accessing Old Excel Data

If you have some legacy data stored in very old spreadsheet files, you may be wondering how to get that data into an ...

Discover More

Canceling a Command

Need to cancel a command you've already started? It is as easy as pressing a single keystroke.

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 four less than 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.