Copying, pasting and moving cells are simple everyday tasks for an Excel user. But what if something already occupies the area we want to paste to? We have to move things into temporary locations before putting them into their final destination. Wouldn’t it be better if there were a simple way to swap ranges, rows and columns? Wouldn’t it be better if we could just select the ranges and click one button? Yes, it would, and that is why I created the macro in this post.
Download the example file
I recommend you download the example file for this post. Then you’ll be able to work along with examples and see the solution in action, plus the file will be useful for future reference.
Download the file: 0011 Swap ranges.zip
When to use the macro
Here is a scenario that I’m sure you can identify with. You’ve received a workbook, which is to be used within a presentation. However, you (or your manager) want to present the items in a different order.
Let the dragging, or copying and pasting begin. Alternatively, if you have the following macro available, you can simply select the ranges and click.
Here is the VBA code; paste it into a standard module and it will be available for use. To make the code more reusable, your Personal Macro Workbook is the best place to save it. Add a custom button to your ribbon, and it’s just one click away 🙂
Sub SwapSelectedRanges() 'Create variables to hold the ranges Dim rng As Range Dim tempRng As Variant Dim areaCount As Long Dim areaRows As Long Dim areaCols As Long Dim i As Integer Dim j As Integer Set rng = Selection areaCount = rng.Areas.Count 'There must be at least two areas selected If areaCount < 2 Then MsgBox "Please select atleast two ranges." Exit Sub End If 'All areas must be the same shape areaRows = rng.Areas(1).Rows.Count areaCols = rng.Areas(1).Columns.Count For i = 2 To areaCount If rng.Areas(i).Rows.Count <> areaRows Or _ rng.Areas(i).Columns.Count <> areaCols Then MsgBox "All ranges must have the same number of rows and columns." Exit Sub End If Next i 'Check that ranges don't intersect with each other For j = 1 To areaCount - 1 For i = 1 + j To areaCount If Not Intersect(rng.Areas(i), rng.Areas(j)) Is Nothing Then MsgBox "Selected areas must not overlap." End If Next i Next j 'Switch the ranges tempRng = rng.Areas(areaCount).Cells.Formula For i = areaCount To 2 Step -1 rng.Areas(i).Cells.Formula = rng.Areas(i - 1).Cells.Formula Next i rng.Areas(1).Cells.Formula = tempRng End Sub
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Using the VBA code
The macro is simple to use:
- Select the first range
- Hold the Ctrl key, select the second range
- Run the macro
Done! That’s it – how easy was that!
When using the macro, there are a few things to be aware of:
- The individual ranges must be the same size (i.e., containing the same number of rows and columns).
- The macro will include any hidden columns or rows
- Cell references are maintained. So, if a range contains a reference to cell A2, after clicking the macro, the range (which has now been moved) still references cell A2
- Ranges cannot cross over with each other
- Formatting does not move when the ranges are swapped
- The code works on ranges which exist in the same worksheet
- The macro will work with complete columns or rows, but will take longer than selecting a specific cell range.
Using with three or more ranges
Technically, the macro does not swap ranges, but rotates them. When there are two ranges, rotating and swapping has the same result.
If we select more than two ranges, the macro will rotate them. The first range moves to the second, the second moves to the third, etc. Finally, the last range moves into the position initially occupied by the first range.
As before, select each individual range (holding the Ctrl key to select more ranges), then run the macro.
If you’ve found this post useful, or if you have a better approach, then please leave a comment below.
Do you need help adapting this to your needs?
I’m guessing the examples in this post didn’t exactly meet 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:
- Read other blogs, or watch YouTube videos on the same topic. You will benefit much more by discovering your own solutions.
- Ask the ‘Excel Ninja’ in your office. It’s amazing what things other people know.
- 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.
- Use Excel Rescue, who are my consultancy partner. They help by providing solutions to smaller Excel problems.
Don’t go yet, there is plenty more to learn on Excel Off The Grid. Check out the latest posts: