Automatically Opening Macro Workbooks when Using a Shortcut Key

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 9, 2016)

Inna notes that Excel allows her to assign shortcut keys to my macros. However, it looks like the shortcuts will only work if they refer to a macro in an open workbook. She usually has her macros stored in a separate workbook. If a macro is assigned to a toolbar button (or an option on the Quick Access toolbar), the workbook containing the macro is automatically opened so it can be run. This does not happen if Inna uses a keyboard shortcut for the same macro; pressing the shortcut won't load the workbook that contains the macro. She wonders if there is a way around this.

This problem is caused by the fact that Excel stores a fully qualified path to a macro as part of its toolbar info (that means it includes the name of the workbook in which the macro is stored), but it doesn't with the shortcut key info—that only has the macro name itself. This means that a shortcut doesn't know how to find a macro unless it is in a workbook that is open.

The easiest way around the problem would be to move the macros to the Personal.xlsm (or, in older versions of Excel, Personal.xls) workbook. This workbook is loaded automatically loaded when Excel is started, so the macros would always be available and the shortcut keys always work. Detailed information on the workbook can be found here:

Of course, you can bypass the Personal.xlsm approach by simply moving the workbook containing the macros to the Startup folder used by Excel. Anything in the folder is automatically opened when you first start Excel, which means that the macros in those workbooks would also be accessible.

The workbook containing your macros could also be compiled into an Excel add-in, which would be available at all times. (How you create and use an add-in has been covered in other ExcelTips.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6401) 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. ...


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