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Selecting a file using the FileDialog

VBA Code Snippets

In a Macro or Add-in there may be times when you require the user to select a file.  It is possible to use the standard FileDialog box for this purpose.  The following code is intended to provide the most common settings which you can amend to meet your needs.

Open the file DialogBox for selecting a file

Sub selectFile()

Dim dialogBox As FileDialog
Set dialogBox = Application.FileDialog(msoFileDialogOpen)

'Set the display properties - these are optional
'All the settings must be applied before the .Show command

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

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

'Show the dialog box and output full file path and file name
If dialogBox.Show = -1 Then
   MsgBox "You selected: " & dialogBox.SelectedItems(1)
End If

End Sub

Selecting multiple files

If you the user is allowed to select more than one file the following code can be used:

Sub selectFiles()

Dim dialogBox As FileDialog
Set dialogBox = Application.FileDialog(msoFileDialogOpen)
Dim i As Integer
'Set the display properties - these are optional
'All the settings must be applied before the .Show command

'Allow multiple files to be selected
dialogBox.AllowMultiSelect = True

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

'Show the dialog box
'Loop through each selected item and output to Immediate Window
For i = 1 To dialogBox.SelectedItems.Count
    Debug.Print dialogBox.SelectedItems(i)
Next i

End Sub

Setting the default folder options

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

'Set filters to show specific files types only - these are optional
'Clear any existing filters first
'Add more filters - use ; to separate filters for the same name
dialogBox.Filters.Add "Excel workboooks", "*.xlsx;*.xls;*.xlsm"

File name or full file path

Sometimes you want the full file path of the selected item

'Show the full file path (folder & file name)
MgsBox dialogBox.SelectedItems(i)

Other times, you just want the name of the file (not the folder)

'Just show the file name
MsgBox Dir(dialogBox.SelectedItems(1))

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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.

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4 thoughts on “Selecting a file using the FileDialog

  1. black pepper says:

    How do you open a single specific file with complete pathname to include filename already known using msoFileDialogOpen? No selection by the user, just open it immediately.

  2. Ryan says:

    Every day I open the ‘open file’ dialog box in Excel, choose desktop and ‘all files’ (or text files), then choose my text file to import. I’ve tried everything I know to do.

    I can get this to open to desktop and with choosing text files or all files but clicking my daily (new) text file on my desktop doesn’t do anything. I need it to then go to the Text Import Wizard pop-up like I’m used to so that I can set things. How would I do that?

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