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Automatically open workbooks when Excel starts

Automatically open workbooks

There are a lot of circumstances where it is useful for a specific workbook, or workbooks to open whenever Excel starts:

  • Save time by opening workbooks you always use
  • To control the calculation mode
  • To trigger VBA events when you open Excel

This isn’t just something interesting you can do with Excel, it’s actually a useful technique to save time and control the Excel environment.

How to make a workbook open automatically

It is easy to make workbooks automatically.  There are no settings to change, it is just a matter of saving the workbook in the right folder.  Excel will open all of the workbooks contained in that folder when it starts.

Where to save the workbook?

In most set-ups the folder location is the same. However, if you are running Windows XP or earlier, or if you have always updated Windows from XP or earlier then the folder location may differ.  There are two approaches to finding the exact path; (1) Looking at the Trusted Locations list (2) Using VBA.

1. Looking at the Trusted Locations list

We can look at the Trusted Locations list in Excel to find the exact folder location.

From the Ribbon click: File -> Options

In the Excel Options box click: Trust Center -> Trust Center Settings… -> Trusted Locations

Startup Folder Location Trusted Locations

Find the file path with the description Excel default location: User Startup

Make a note of that folder location.

2. Using VBA

In the Immediate Window of the Visual Basic Editor type the following code and press Return (Shortcut keys: Press ALT + F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor, then Ctrl + G to open the Immediate window)


The location of the User Start Up folder will be displayed.

Startup Folder Location Immediate Window

Whichever method you chose, you now have the location for the XLSTART folder, just save the workbooks into there.  They will open automatically whenever Excel opens, opening after Add-ins but before other any workbooks.

Creating your own start-up folder

If you do not like the default start-up location you can define your own folder location.

From the Ribbon click: File -> Options

From the Excel Options window click: Advanced -> (Scroll down to) General -> At startup, open all files in:

Startup Folder Custom Location

In the box enter the file path of the folder location you wish to use.

Ideas for other approaches

Perhaps the files you use are stored on a shared network drive which is used by others.  As a result, it is not convenient to have the files saved in the XLSTART folder, or in a personally defined folder location.  But, there are other options:

  • Save shortcuts to the files you require into the XLSTART folder
  • Create a workbook containing hyperlinks to the workbooks you need
  • Create a workbook which contains VBA to open the workbooks saved in other locations

What do I use this feature for?

I use this feature for:

  • Controlling the calculation mode, as I always want Excel to open in a specific calculation mode
  • Opening my list of future development ideas; every idea goes on this workbook.
  • Providing hyperlinks to files I commonly use.  Most of the files I need are just a single click away.

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About the author

Hey, I’m Mark, and I run Excel Off The Grid.

My parents tell me that at the age of 7 I declared I was going to become a qualified accountant. I was either psychic or had no imagination, as that is exactly what happened. However, it wasn't until I was 35 that my journey really began.

In 2015, I started a new job, for which I was regularly working after 10pm. As a result, I rarely saw my children during the week. So, I started searching for the secrets to automating Excel. I discovered that by building a small number of simple tools, I could combine them together in different ways to automate nearly all my regular tasks. This meant I could work less hours (and I got pay raises!). Today, I teach these techniques to other professionals in our training program so they too can spend less time at work (and more time with their children and doing the things they love).

Do you need help adapting this post to your needs?

I'm guessing the examples in this post don't exactly match your situation. We all use Excel differently, so it's impossible to write a post that will meet everybody's needs. By taking the time to understand the techniques and principles in this post (and elsewhere on this site), you should be able to adapt it to your needs.

But, if you're still struggling you should:

  1. Read other blogs, or watch YouTube videos on the same topic. You will benefit much more by discovering your own solutions.
  2. Ask the 'Excel Ninja' in your office. It's amazing what things other people know.
  3. Ask a question in a forum like Mr Excel, or the Microsoft Answers Community. Remember, the people on these forums are generally giving their time for free. So take care to craft your question, make sure it's clear and concise.  List all the things you've tried, and provide screenshots, code segments and example workbooks.
  4. Use Excel Rescue, who are my consultancy partner. They help by providing solutions to smaller Excel problems.

What next?
Don't go yet, there is plenty more to learn on Excel Off The Grid.  Check out the latest posts:

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