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: Checking for the Existence of a File.

Checking for the Existence of a File

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 8, 2021)
This tip applies to Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


John has a column of invoice numbers in a worksheet. He has a directory on the network where staff save a PDF of the actual invoice and name it using the same invoice number that is in the worksheet. Each invoice number in the worksheet should have a correspondingly named PDF in the directory on the network. John is looking for a way, within Excel, to check and verify that a PDF really does exist for each invoice number.

There is no way to do this using built-in Excel commands. You can, however, create a macro that will do the checking for you. For instance, consider the following simple user-defined function:

Function FileExists1(sPath As String)
    FileExists = Dir(sPath) <> ""
End Function

The routine simply returns a True or False value, based on whether the specified file exists. The value that is passed to the function needs to include a full path and file name. For example, if the file specification (including the path) were in cell A1, you could use the following in a cell:


You may not, however, want to put the full path name into the cell. In that case, you could specify it in the actual formula, in this way:

=FileExists1("c:\your\path\here\" & A1 & ".pdf")

Of course, you could instead specify the path in the user-defined function:

Function FileExists2(sFile As String)
    sPath = "c:\your\path\here\" & sFile & ".pdf"
    FileExists = Dir(sPath) <> ""
End Function

With such a function you could easily create a formula in your worksheet that would "flag" any invoices missing from the directory:

=IF(FileExists2(A1),"","Missing Invoice")


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 (7512) 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: Checking for the Existence of a File.

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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What is one more than 9?

2023-07-01 05:29:45


@Nicky, You need a list of subfolders to scan that for each of the files. I have used a sub that works on the selected file names.

Sub CheckFilesExist()
Dim cc As Range, nn
Dim sStartingFolder As String, sFolder, sFile As String
Dim aSubFolders()
ReDim Preserve aSubFolders(0)

'Given the starting folder, look for subfolders and put them into an array.
'VBA forgets you asked for directories in subsequent passes using Dir(), hence Getattr()

sStartingFolder = Range("Startingfolder").Value ' (name ends with \)
sFolder = Dir(PathName:=sStartingFolder, Attributes:=vbDirectory)
Do While sFolder <> ""
If GetAttr(sStartingFolder & sFolder) = vbDirectory Then
If sFolder = "." Or sFolder = ".." Then ' skip system folders
ElseIf sFolder > "" Then
ReDim Preserve aSubFolders(UBound(aSubFolders) + 1)
aSubFolders(UBound(aSubFolders)) = sFolder
Exit Do
End If
End If
sFolder = Dir()

'Then work through the selected file names of interest. Since this is a sub, I'm putting the True/False result into the cell to the right of the file name.

If UBound(aSubFolders) > 0 Then
For Each cc In Selection
sFile = cc.Value
For Each sFolder In aSubFolders
cc.Offset(0, 1) = (Dir(sStartingFolder & sFolder & "\" & sFile) > "")
If cc.Offset(0, 1) Then
' cc.Offset(0, 2) = sFolder
Exit For
End If
Next cc
MsgBox "No subfolders found.", vbInformation
End If

You could return the subfolder name adjacent to the result. I hope this helps.

2023-06-29 13:16:56


Hi, I am trying to make this function work, however my file path is a variable rather than a fixed location. I did try using the whole filepath directly from a cell, but still had the 'Value' error returning against it.

The filepath is fixed until the last folder in the string, which changes depending on which Suppliers' invoice I am trying to check:

Full Path: C:\TEST\2324\Invoices\Supplier Name\filename.pdf

In which both the Supplier Name and filename are variable. I have tried multiple variations, but not one that works, any help would be appreciated :)

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