Let’s Start with the Basics:
What is a macro? Simply put, a macro is a recording. Imagine that rather than frying eggs, pouring cereal, or munching on a power bar for breakfast, you make a video of yourself doing it once. Then each morning, instead of going through the effort to eat, you just play back the video and magically breakfast is done.
While most of us may wish for a mystical morning meal-timesaver, none exists to date. But with macros, you can automate some of the more mundane functions within Excel. These can range from basic tasks like formatting cells or copying and pasting, to complicated operations such as importing data, creating tables, and inserting charts.
So How Do I Know Whether or Not a Macro Is Dangerous?
Whenever you receive a macro enabled spreadsheet, ask yourself, “Do I know and trust the sender? Also, do I know what this document is about?” If the answer to both questions is yes, then confidently click “Allow.” Odds are, the macros are in place to make your life a little easier.
However, a modicum of caution is still necessary. Macros can be used to infect your computer with viruses and other malware. So if you don’t recognize the sender or the document appears bizarre, trust your gut and select “Cancel.”
OK, I’m sold on Macros… How Do I Add Them to My Spreadsheets?
The first thing to do is start recording. Go to the view tab and choose “Record New Macro.” Then perform the function you wish to automate as you would normally. After you’ve finished, push the square icon in the bottom left corner to stop the recording. From here you can assign the macro a hot-key, create a button that runs it, or even give your brand new macro a name.
Be warned: macros record everything. That includes mistakes. So before you begin automating your entire work life, try a few practice walk-throughs. If you do happen to mess up while the camera’s rolling, you can always delete your recording and start over by clicking “Edit Macros” under the view tab.
To further hone your MS Excel skills and learn more information about macros, click here.