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Browse for file path with VBA: insert value into cell

In this post, we look at how to browse for file path with VBA, and then insert the selected filepath into a cell.

This post is inspired by a question I received:

“If you would want to add a browse button right beside the cell that contains the file path so that you won’t need to manually copy and paste the file path in the cell, how would you do that?”

OK, let me show you the solution that I came up with.

Download the example file: Click the link below to download the example file used for this post:

Watch the video

Watch the video on YouTube.

The solution

Before we look at how to build it, let’s look at the solution in action.

Cell C3 contains a file path, with a folder icon next to it.

Example solution - final version

If we click on the folder icon, the file open dialog box opens.  We can select a file and click Open.

Select File in the File Open Dialog Box - Browse for file path

The file path is now inserted into cell C3.

Example solution - updated file path

If you’re here to find out how to do this yourself, then you’re in the right place 😁

Building the solution

Now we know what it does; let’s build it.

Create a named range

First, we need to create a named range for the cell containing the file path.

While this step isn’t essential, it reduces the risk of error. If we wrote a macro that references cell C3, then inserted a new row or column, the code in the macro doesn’t change, so it then refers to the wrong cell. Therefore, named ranges help to remove this risk.

  1. Select the cell which contains the file path
  2. In the name box, type filePath and press Enter
    Create named range

First step. Done. ✅

The VBA macro

The main driving force for this solution is a VBA macro.

If you have the Developer ribbon visible, click Developer > Visual Basic. if not, press ALT + F11

Developer - Visual Basic

The Visual Basic Editor opens.

Right-click the file in the Project window, then click Insert > Module from the menu.

Create a new module

A new code module opens. Enter the following code into the code module

Enter code into code module
Sub selectFile()

'Create and set dialog box as variable
Dim dialogBox As FileDialog
Set dialogBox = Application.FileDialog(msoFileDialogOpen)

'Do not allow multiple files to be selected
dialogBox.AllowMultiSelect = False

'Set the title of the DialogBox
dialogBox.Title = "Select a file"

'Set the default folder to open
dialogBox.InitialFileName = "C:\Users\marks\Downloads\Example Folder"

'Clear the dialog box filters
'Apply file filters - use ; to separate filters for the same name
dialogBox.Filters.Add "Excel workbooks", "*.xlsx;*.xls;*.xlsm"

'Show the dialog box and output full file name
If dialogBox.Show = -1 Then
    ActiveSheet.Range("filePath").Value = dialogBox.SelectedItems(1)
End If

End Sub

The comments in the code describe the purpose of each section.

Please take careful note of the following, as you will need to change the code for your specific scenario.

ActiveSheet.Range(“filePath”).Value = dialogBox.SelectedItems(1)
Change the word filePath for the named range you created above.

dialogBox.InitialFileName = “C:\Users\marks\Downloads\Example Folder”
This contains the default folder path where the file picker opens each time. Change this to match your environment.

dialogBox.Filters.Add “Excel workbooks”, “*.xlsx;*.xls;*.xlsm”

This code restricts the types of files that are shown in the file picker. The asterisk ( * ) is a wildcard character; any files ending in .xlsx, .xlsx, and .xlsm will be displayed. To add new file types, PDFs for example, add “;*.pdf” into the text string. Or, to allow all file types, remove the dialogbox.Filters.Add… line completely.

Once the code has been entered and amended to your scenario, close the Visual Basic Editor by clicking on the [X] at the window’s top right.

Insert folder picture

Now we need something to act as the button. I am going to use an Icon. Depending on your version of Excel, you may not have the Icons feature. But you can insert any picture or shape you wish.

To insert an icon like me, click Insert > Icons.

Insert Icon

Search for “Folder”, in the icons window. Select the preferred icon and click Insert.

Insert Folder Icon

The image will be inserted onto the face of the worksheet.

Move and resize the image to be in the right location. I have also formatted the folder icon to be an orange color (similar to how folders look in the normal Windows environment).

Assign macro to picture

Finally, we assign the macro to the image. Right-click on the image and select Assign macro… from the menu.

Assign Macro

From the Assign Macro window, click the selectFile macro (this is the name of the macro we created earlier), then click OK.

Select File - OK

Test it out

That’s it. We’re done. Now go and test it out.


In this post, we have seen how to create a user interface for selecting files. Users can browse for a file path, then insert that into a cell. This is a really useful technique if using cell parameters in Power Query.

Related posts:

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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:

7 thoughts on “Browse for file path with VBA: insert value into cell

  1. Blair Milster says:

    Would you like a non VBA based method of doing the above?

    Using MicroSoft 365 Excel, you have the option of using a formula to pull out the file name and path from.

    I use the hyperlink function starting with the path that the current file is saved it.

    That side steps security having issues with ‘rogue macro’ concerns.
    =IF(ISNA(@CELL(“filename”,B1)),”After the file is saved this formula will display the path and name”,SUBSTITUTE(LEFT(@CELL(“filename”,B1),FIND(“]”,@CELL(“filename”,B1),1)-1),”[“,””,1))

    Gives you the path for the entire file.
    If you know you will be back to that file on a regular basis:
    paste the formula into the file
    F2 then press Enter to force recalc,
    copy/paste values back in my home worksheet.
    Trim to length for if I want to link to the folder or file desired.
    Wrap it in a hyperlink formula.
    Click save.

    Here is an example that lets you click to open the folder a file is saved in.

    =IF(ISNA(@CELL(“filename”,B2)),””,IF(ISERROR(FIND(“\”,@CELL(“filename”,A1),1)),HYPERLINK(LEFT(@CELL(“filename”,B2),FIND(“[“,@CELL(“filename”,B2),1)-1), “Saved in: “&MID(@CELL(“filename”,B2),FIND(“/[[“,SUBSTITUTE(@CELL(“filename”,B2),”/”,”/[[“,-1+SUMPRODUCT(LEN(CELL(“filename”,B2))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(CELL(“filename”,B2),”/”,””)))),1)+1,(FIND(“/[“,@CELL(“filename”,B2))-2)-FIND(“/[[“,SUBSTITUTE(@CELL(“filename”,B2),”/”,”/[[“,-1+SUMPRODUCT(LEN(CELL(“filename”,B2))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(CELL(“filename”,B2),”/”,””)))),1)+1)),HYPERLINK(LEFT(@CELL(“filename”,B2),FIND(“[“,@CELL(“filename”,B2),1)-1), “Saved in: “&MID(@CELL(“filename”,B2),FIND(“\[[“,SUBSTITUTE(@CELL(“filename”,B2),”\”,”\[[“,-1+SUMPRODUCT(LEN(CELL(“filename”,B2))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(CELL(“filename”,B2),”\”,””)))),1)+1,(FIND(“\[“,@CELL(“filename”,B2))-2)-FIND(“\[[“,SUBSTITUTE(@CELL(“filename”,B2),”\”,”\[[“,-1+SUMPRODUCT(LEN(CELL(“filename”,B2))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(CELL(“filename”,B2),”\”,””)))),1)+1))))

    Anyhow, I was stopping by to say “Thanks for posting some interesting examples and pointers from a POV that works.”

    Your writing style is a readable and effective at communicating.

    Thank you for taking the time to post and make it effective.



  2. Yiee says:

    Hello, May I know what do you mean by
    ActiveSheet.Range(“filePath”).Value = dialogBox.SelectedItems(1)
    Change the word “filePath” for the named range you created above.

    • Excel Off The Grid says:

      In the Create Named Range step at the start, you created a named range. In the example, I used “filePath”. But if you used a different name, then you will need to change the code

      ActiveSheet.Range([   insert your named range here    ]).Value = dialogBox.SelectedItems(1)
  3. Arneil Phinn says:

    Question please:

    How would I change the below to just being a folder path rather than file path. Thanks. This will be very useful

    Option Explicit

    Sub selectFile()

    ‘Create and set dialog box as variable
    Dim dialogBox As FileDialog
    Set dialogBox = Application.FileDialog(msoFileDialogOpen)

    ‘Do not allow multiple files to be selected
    dialogBox.AllowMultiSelect = False

    ‘Set the title of of the DialogBox
    dialogBox.Title = “Select a file”

    ‘Set the default folder to open
    dialogBox.InitialFileName = “C:\Users\marks\Downloads\Example Folder”

    ‘Clear the dialog box filters

    ‘Show the dialog box and output full file name
    If dialogBox.Show = -1 Then
    ActiveSheet.Range(“filePath”).Value = dialogBox.SelectedItems(1)
    End If

    End Sub

    • Excel Off The Grid says:

      Change this:

      ActiveSheet.Range("FilePath").Value = dialogBox.SelectedItems(1)

      To this:

      ActiveSheet.Range("FilePath").Value = Left(dialogBox.SelectedItems(1), InStrRev(dialogBox.SelectedItems(1), "\"))
  4. Nick says:


    How do you make the button insert the path of the file/folder to different cells? For instance, you have a button for Cell A1, and another for Cell A2.
    I know you can create 1 button for each cell but is there a way to make it easier?

    • Excel Off The Grid says:

      You can program it to put the values into different cells. What you need first is the logic of how the button knows which cell to put the path into.

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