Tag Archives: file

Why is my Excel file so LARGE? Learn how to reduce Excel file size!

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In this post I will explain various ways to reduce Excel file size. Large Excel files slow down your system, increase the likelihood of the file crashing as well as obviously use more drive space.XLSB files save or open faster

Microsoft Excel was designed to be a tool for managing relatively small datasets for Finance & Accounting purposes, today we see that Excel is used often for large data analysis, prototyping of complex solutions (built often with VBA Marcos). You probably wondered here struggling with bloated Excel file, frustrated with having to wait for calculations to complete or constantly crashing Excel file.

Reduce Excel file size… or change the tool

Before we start working to reduce the Excel this is a good moment to ask yourself the question…

Is Excel the right tool for the job?

If you are convinced so proceed further, otherwise consider that Microsoft Excel has built several tools dedicated to managing with challenges that appear when working with larger data sets:

  • PowerQuery – this Microsoft AddIn for Excel was created specifically for pulling and running queries on large datasets in Excel. You can easily merge worksheets, csv files or run complex relationship queries across your worksheets
  • PowerBI – Microsoft PowerBI is a free application you can download from the Microsoft Store that allows you to create custom dashboards, run complex analytics… and easily publish your dashboards and reports online

Save file as Binary (XLSB)

xlsb vs xlsx
Saving a file in XLSB from my experience often resulted in reducing file size even by 70%.. If you don’t know the difference between a XLSX (OpenXML format) and XLSX (Binary Excel format) file format I encourage you read my post on XLSB.

Since Excel 2007 Microsoft was pressured to open up the Excel format so other applications could use it. This meant moving away from the binary file format which was storage friendly and would open efficiently, to the more heavy file format (XMLs files compressed to a ZIP file). In effect the XSLX file format will always be larger than the XLSB.

To save a file in binary format go to FILE click on Save As and select Excel Binary Workbook (*.xlsb) as shown below.
Save Excel file as XLSB

Remove Used Cell Range

A troublesome thing that can increase your Excel file size is Used Range. Imagine the worksheet below. Let us assume at some point I added some data into cell G16, and afterwards I deleted it. Although de facto I am only now using A1:C4, de jure Excel will keep in memory the entire range of A1:G12 expanding the file size.
Unempty Cells vs Actually Excel Used Range

How to check your Excel Used Range? Use the CTRL+END key combo. You will be moved to the last cell in your Worksheets Used Range

Removing Unused Ranged

So what to do to reduce your Used Range only to the actual range you are using? Follow the steps below:

Remove data and formatting from unused cells

Select all unneccesary cells that contain data or formatting and go to Home->Editing->Clear and select Clear All:
Excel Delete Unused Range

Reset Worksheet Used Range

Now we need to update the Used Range property in your Worksheet. Go to the Developer Tab and open the VBE. Next add the following VBA Macro to any VBA Module.

Next run the Macro (or use the F5 shortcut). The Used Range should be now updated.

Remove Hidden / Unused Worksheets

Another reason for large file size is having many unused or hidden worksheets in your Workbook. Each Excel Worksheet has it’s own share of metadata, more importantly, however, you may be keeping sheets with similar datasets, copies or unnecessary Pivot Tables that also take up a lot of space. Follow steps below to show and delete unnecessary hidden worksheets.

Unhide hidden worksheets

To unhide hidden worksheets right-click on a Worksheet and select Unhide:Excel Unhide Hidden Worksheets

Delete unused Worksheets

To delete an unused Worksheet right-click and select Delete:
Excel Delete Worksheet

Remove Formatting

Formatting adds additional kilobytes to your Excel file size. A good approach is to remove any formatting from cells that don’t need formatting.

To remove cell formatting you can read this MSDN article or follow below:

Select Cells and click Clear Formats

Select Cells for which you want to remove formats. Look for the Editing section in the Home ribbon and select Clear Formats:
Excel Clear Formatting

Compress Images

Another reason for Excel to have an unreasonable file size is due to media, especially Images. Although you may think cropping and Image and resizing reduce its size, in fact Excel still keeps the entire image in memory. Hence the only way to free Image memory is to Compress Pictures.

Crop and Compress Images in Excel

To Compress your Images click on your Image(s) in Excel and go to Format->Adjust->Compress Pictures. Next select your preffered options. Select Delete cropped Areas of pictures to remove the unseen cropped areas of your images as well as the preffered resolution (the lower the more pixelated the image will seem):
Excel Crop Images and Reduce Resolution

Other options

Other honorable mentions to reduce your Excel file size may be:

  1. Remove unused Pivot Tables
  2. Remove Pivot Cache
  3. Replace Formulas with Data (Copy Paste as Data)

Feel free to comment below and add your ideas!

VBA Delete File – Deleting files using VBA

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To delete a file using VBA you need to use the VBA Kill Function. The problem with the VBA Kill function however is that it will not check whether the file exists in the first place, and instead will throw and error.

VBA Deleting multiple files using Wildcards (*)

In case you have many files to delete in a single directory that match a certain sequence of characters in the name you can use Wildcards (*).

A Wildcard (*) replaces any number of characters (more than one) in the filename. An example below:

VBA Deleting files matching a Regular Expression

In some cases there are more complex rules defining the files we should delete. In such case we can create a new function that uses VBA Regular Expressions:

Having this functions we can delete files using patterns (be sure to read my VBA Regular Expression tutorial if you are new to Regex).

Let us use this example below.
vba delete file
I would like to delete files “1.txt” and “2.txt” while maintaining remaining files. Hence I can use the Regex pattern [0-9] which means any single numeric digit. Execution would look hence like this:

VBA Delete files recursively

In some cases you might not know if which directory the file you want to delete is and you have only a root directory. Traversing these folder manually is cumbersome. However with the help of my TraversePath procedure which I created in the postVBA Dir Function – How to traverse directories we can create our own RecursiveKill function:

Now using the same example from above let us assume we have the file 1.txt copied multiple times across our directory. We can easily delete all copies like this:

VBA FileDialog – Opening, Selecting and Saving files and folders

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VBA File DialogOften in VBA we need to ask the users to select files or directories before we execute the actual functionality of our macro. Welcome to the VBA Open file dialog post. Today we will learn how to use the Application.FileDialog, to understand the various msoFileDialogFilePicker file dialog picking options and how to properly manage these dialogs.

Here is a simple example of a VBA File Dialog:

Application.FileDialog function

Before we start let’s understand the Application.FileDialog function.

The Application.FileDialog has the following syntax:


An enumeration defining the type of file dialog to open. It has the following values:

Value Description
msoFileDialogOpen Open dialog box
msoFileDialogSaveAs Save As dialog box
msoFileDialogFilePicker File picker dialog box
msoFileDialogFolderPicker Folder picker dialog box

Properties and functions

FileDialog properties

Property Description
AllowMultiSelect Allow to select more than one file or folder
ButtonName Text displayed on the action button of a file dialog box
DialogType Change the MsoFileDialogType (see above)
Filter Set a file filter to filter file types user can select
InitialFileName The initial path to be opened e.g. C:\
InitialView The initial file view. Can be one of the following:

SelectedItems Collection of type FileDialogSelectedItems with all selected items
Title Title of the Open file dialog window

Select files – msoFileDialogFilePicker

select file filedialogThe msoFileDialogFilePicker dialog type allows you to select one or more files.

Select single files

The most common select file scenario is asking the user to select a single file. The code below does just that:

Select multiple files

Quite common is a scenario when you are asking the user to select one or more files. The code below does just that. Notice that you need to set AllowMultiSelect to True.

Select folder – msoFileDialogFilePicker

select folder application.filedialogSelecting a folder is more simple than selecting files. However only a single folder can be select within a single dialog window.

Select folder example

The dialog below will ask the user to select a folder:

The msoFileDialogFolderPicker dialog allows you to only select a SINGLE folder and obviously does not support file folders

Open file – msoFileDialogOpen

file open application.filedialogOpening files is much more simple as it usually involves a single file. The only difference between the behavior between Selecting and Opening files are button labels.

Open file example

The dialog below will ask the user to select a file to open:

Save file – msoFileDialogSaveAs

saveas application.filedialogSaving a file is similarly easy, and also only the buttons are differently named.

The save file dialog will in fact not save any files! It will just allow the user to select a filename for the file. You need to open the files for reading / writing yourself. Check out my post on how to write files in VBA

Save file example

The dialog below will ask the user to select a path to which a files is to be saved:

The msoFileDialogSaveAs dialog does NOT support file filters

FileDialog Filters

One of the common problems with working with the Application.FileDialog is setting multiple file filters. Below some common examples of how to do this properly. To add a filter for multiple files use the semicolor ;:

Be sure to clear your list of filters each time. The FileDialog has its nuisances and often filters are not cleared automatically. Hence, when creating multiple dialogs you might see filters coming from previous executed dialogs if not cleared and re-initiated properly.

The open file dialog will in fact not open any files! It will just allow the user to select files to open. You need to open the files for reading / writing yourself. Check out my posts:

Merge Excel files – How to merge multiple Excel files

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Having your data spread across multiple Excel files? Want to merge Excel files into a single Excel Workbook? Today we going to explore just that – how to merge multiple Excel Workbook spreadsheets into a single Workbook. The obvious tool for this task is Visual Basic for Applications so let us jump right in.

Merge Excel files manually

Open the destination Workbook

Merge Source.xlsx with Destination.xlsx
Merge Source.xlsx with Destination.xlsx
Open the destination Excel Workbook (in our example Destination.xlsx) to which you want to copy the Worksheets of the remaining Workbooks (in our example Source.xlsx).

The further steps need to be repeated for each Excel Workbook you want to copy to the destination Workbook.

Open (each) the Workbook you want to merge and copy Worksheets

Copy each Worksheet to the destination Workbook
Copy each Worksheet to the destination Workbook
Open each Excel Workbook you want to merge with the destination Workbook.

Next right-click on each Worksheet you want to copy, click Move or Copy.... In the Move or Copy Window select the destination Workbook (Destination.xlsx in our case). Next:

  • If you want to move (cut & paste) the Worksheet – simply click the OK button to proceed
  • If you want to copy (copy & paste) the Worksheet – select the Create a Copy checkbox and click the OK button

Copy Worksheet to destination Workbook
Copy Worksheet to destination Workbook

Repeat Step 2 for each Workbook you want to copy to the destination Workbook.

Merge Excel files using VBA

merge excel filesLet us assume we have a couple of files listed in our directory (in my example these are File1 and File2.xlsx). What we want to do is create a new Excel Workbook and copy Worksheets to this new Workbook. I wanted however to account for 2 typical scenarios:

  • Copy ALL worksheets
  • Copy only a single worksheet – with a specific name

The code below supports both these scenarios.

Merge Excel files code

Use the MergeExcelFiles Sub procedure below to merge any number of Workbooks:

Sub MergeExcelFiles(fileNames() As String, Optional worksheetName As String = vbNullString, Optional mergedFileName As String = "merged.xlsx")
    Dim fileName As Variant, wb As Workbook, ws As Worksheet, destWb As Workbook, excelApp As Application
    Set excelApp = New Application
    Set destWb = excelApp.Workbooks.Add
    For Each fileName In fileNames
        Set wb = excelApp.Workbooks.Open(fileName, ReadOnly = True)
        For Each ws In wb.Sheets
            If worksheetName <> vbNullString Then
                If ws.Name = worksheetName Then ws.Copy After:=destWb.Sheets(destWb.Sheets.Count)
                ws.Copy After:=destWb.Sheets(destWb.Sheets.Count)
            End If
        Next ws
        wb.Close SaveChanges:=False
    Next fileName
    destWb.SaveAs ThisWorkbook.Path & "\" & mergedFileName
    destWb.Close SaveChanges:=False
    Set destWb = Nothing: Set excelApp = Nothing
    MsgBox "Merge completed!"
End Sub

How to use the procedure above? Below I create a simple Test procedure that lists the Excel files within the Workbook directory and merges the Workbooks.

Sub TestMerge()
    Dim fileNames(0 To 1) As String
    fileNames(0) = ThisWorkbook.Path & "\File1.xlsx"
    fileNames(1) = ThisWorkbook.Path & "\File2.xlsx"

    'Merge all worksheets in listed files
    MergeExcelFiles fileNames
    'Merge only worksheets named "SomeWs" in listed files and save the merged file as "test.xlsx"
    MergeExcelFiles fileNames, "SomeWs", "test.xlsx"

End Sub

Pretty simple right?

Merge Excel files within a directory

The scenario above works pretty well for situations where we want to list explicitly files we want to merge into a single Excel Workbook. How about when we have tons of files? Or to make it more simple, if we want to merge all files within a SINGLE directory. As this is also a typical scenario I have modified the above Test procedure to accommodate just that:

Sub TestMergeDirectory()
    Dim fileNames() As String, currIndex As Long, fileName As String, directory As String
    directory = ThisWorkbook.Path & "\SomeDir\"
    ReDim fileNames(0 To 0) As String
    fileName = Dir(directory)
    fileNames(0) = directory & fileName
    Do Until fileName = vbNullString
        currIndex = currIndex + 1
        ReDim Preserve fileNames(0 To currIndex) As String
        fileName = Dir
        fileNames(currIndex) = directory & fileName
    ReDim Preserve fileNames(0 To currIndex - 1) As String
    MergeExcelFiles fileNames
End Sub

What happens is that we use the VBA Dir function to loop through all files within a selected directory. As we go along we modify our VBA Array redefining its size and adding additional items.

Download the code

Want to download the code above and the example?

Merge Excel files in a whole directory structure

One last scenario that came to mind is when we have a whole directory structure (directories within other directories) containing files with want to merge. As the VBA Dir function works only for a single directory and does not traverse any directories within we would need to amend additionally the code above. If needed I recommend reading my post on How to traverse directories using the VBA Dir function.

Convert CSV to Excel – How to open CSV and save as Excel

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CSV files are commonplace nowadays. Hence knowing how to convert CSV to Excel is a useful skill. CSV files are especially useful when wanting to save a table worth of data in a simple to read format. CSVs are also easy files to create and read from – as they are basically text files with a .csv file extension. That means they easily open in Wordpad, Notepad, Word and virtually any other text editor.

CSV fileCSV (Comma-separated values) – in computing these are text files that store tabular data (numbers and text in columns):

  • Each row represent a single record
  • Each column represents a certain property
  • Each “cell“, or in other words columns within a row, are separated by a certain delimiter. Usually a comma , character (but not only!)
  • Usually the first row is the header – contains names for each column

Today I want to show how you can quickly convert a CSV file into an Excel XLSX file. I will base this tutorial on the following example of a CSV file:

Sample CSV (Comma-separated values file)
Sample CSV (Comma-separated values file)

Open the file in Excel

Simply double click on the file or if needed right-click and Open with the file in Microsoft Excel. The file should open showing only a single Worksheet like shown below:

CSV file opened in Excel
CSV file opened in Excel

If columns in a CSV are separated by your default Windows list separator the columns will be separated automatically without needing to proceed further. Where to find you default Windows locale list separator? Control Panel->Region and Language->Additional Settings->List Separator. In my case it was a ;

Select first column and proceed to Text to Columns

Select the entire first column where all your data should be located. Next click on the Text to Columns button in the DATA ribbon tab:

Data ribbon: Text to Columns
Data ribbon: Text to Columns

Proceed according to Wizard instructions

This is the hard part. Text to Columns need additional information on the delimiter and format of your columns.

Delimited or Fixed width?

CSV files are usually delimited using a specific character (like a comma or semicolon), in this case select Delimited. Sometimes however columns are fixed width, separated by spaces, in this case select Fixed width. Next click Next to proceed.

Text to Columns Wizard: Step 1
Text to Columns Wizard: Step 1

Select delimiter

Assuming your columns are separated with a specific delimiter you need to provide this delimiter in the Wizard. Look at the Data preview to make sure your columns will be separated correctly. When finished proceed with Next

Text to Columns Wizard: Step 2
Text to Columns Wizard: Step 2

Format your columns (optional)

The last step is to format your columns if needed. If your columns represent Dates or you want to pull a column containing numbers/dates as text instead – be sure to format it appropriately. Usually, however, you are fine with hitting Finish:

Text to Columns Wizard: Step 3
Text to Columns Wizard: Step 3

Admire your Excel converted CSV file

If you have proceeded according to the steps above you should have a neatly formatted spreadsheet like the one below.

Convert CSV to Excel file
Convert CSV to Excel file

One last thing as Steve Jobs used to say… Remember to save the file as an Excel XSLX (or XLSB or similar) file:
save csv

Convert multiple CSV to Excel with VBA

If you have multiple CSVs you want to convert or pull into an Excel file the above approach may be a big burden. So lets use some VBA macros to help.

Import entire CSV

The below is take straight from my Read file in VBA blog post. This pulls a single file into the destRng Excel range.

Dim ws as Worksheet, destRng as Range, fileName as String
Set destRng = Range("A1")
Set ws = ActiveSheet
fileName = "C:\text.csv" 'Replace with file name
With ws.QueryTables.Add(Connection:= "TEXT;" & fileName & "", Destination:=destRng)
    .FieldNames = True
    .RowNumbers = False
    .FillAdjacentFormulas = False
    .PreserveFormatting = True
    .RefreshOnFileOpen = False
    .RefreshStyle = xlInsertDeleteCells
    .SaveData = True
    .AdjustColumnWidth = True
    .RefreshPeriod = 0
    .TextFilePromptOnRefresh = False
    .TextFilePlatform = 852
    .TextFileStartRow = 1
    .TextFileParseType = xlDelimited
    .TextFileTextQualifier = xlTextQualifierDoubleQuote
    'Select your delimiter - selected below for Comma
    .TextFileConsecutiveDelimiter = False
    .TextFileTabDelimiter = False
    .TextFileSemicolonDelimiter = False
    .TextFileCommaDelimiter = True
    .TextFileSpaceDelimiter = False
    .TextFileTrailingMinusNumbers = True
    'This will refresh the query
End With

Import selected CSV rows

Now a more interesting and complex scenario – let us assume we want to import just some rows of our CSV. Fortunately Excel (as well as Access) support SQL queries. We can therefore do a simple SELECT query to upload all records or add some filtering (using WHERE clause), grouping (using GROUP BY clause) and etc.

'Assuming file looks like this. File path: C:\test.csv
'"Col1", "Col2", "Col3"
'1     , 2     , 3
'11    , 12    , 1
'2     , 5     , 6
Set rs = CreateObject("ADODB.Recordset")
strcon = "Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Data Source=C:\;" _
& "Extended Properties=""text;HDR=Yes;FMT=Delimited"";"
strSQL = "SELECT * FROM test.csv WHERE Col1 > 10"
rs.Open strSQL, strcon, 3, 3
   col1 = rs("Col1")
   col2 = rs("Col2")
   col3 = rs("Col3")
Loop Until rs.EOF

The above will only pull the second row as Col1 is > 10.

Convert CSV to Excel tips

CSV files are usually used when a file contains a large amount of data. Excel tends to bloat pretty quickly although it compresses the data pretty well. Nevertheless you might find yourself struggling with Excel performance or even experiencing an Excel crash. What to do? Save the file as an XLSB – read more here.