Control when external references (links) are updated

When you create external references (also called links), you can control whether the external references stay up to date, and when they are updated. If another user has changed a value in a cell, Microsoft Excel does not look for the new value unless you tell it to.

What do you want to do?

Learn more about external references

Control links to other workbooks

Control the startup prompt for updating all of the links

Decide whether to update links when prompted at startup

Learn more about external references

The workbook that contains the links is called the destination workbook, and the workbook that is linked to it is called the source workbook. If the workbook that you have opened (called a destination file) contains links to other workbooks or files (called source files), and the source files have changed, the links in the workbook that you are opening may display information that is out of date.

Workbook contains links

1. The destination workbook contains the external reference.

2. The external reference (or link) is a reference to a cell range in the source workbook.

3. The source workbook contains the cell and the actual value that is retrieved and placed in the destination workbook.

Top of Page

Control links to other workbooks

When the source workbook and the destination workbook are open on the same computer, links are updated automatically. When you open a destination workbook, and the source workbook is not open, you may be alerted by the Trust Bar whether to update the links. You can control whether the Trust Bar alerts you, and whether to update all links when the alert does not appear. You can also update only some of the links, if the workbook contains more than one link.

Manually update all of the links or none of the links in a workbook

  1. Close all workbooks. If one source workbook is open, and others are closed, the updates will not be uniform.

  2. Open the workbook that contains the links.

  3. To update the links, on the Trust Bar, click Options, and then click Enable this Content.

Top of Page

Manually update only some of the links to other workbooks

  1. Close all workbooks.

  2. Open the workbook that contains the links.

  3. On the Data tab, in the Connections group, click Edit Links.

    Excel Ribbon Image

  4. In the Source list, click the linked object that you want to update.

    To select multiple links, hold down CTRL and click each linked object.

    To select all links, press CTRL+A.

  5. Click Update Values.

Top of Page

Control the startup prompt for updating all of the links

You can decide whether to update links automatically at startup or after startup.

Don't ask whether to update links when I open any workbook, and update links automatically

This option is for the current user only, and affects every workbook opened. Other users are not affected. This option also affects links to other programs.

  1. Click the File tab, click Options, and then click the Advanced category.

  2. Under When calculating this workbook, clear the Update links to other documents check box. If this check box is clear, the links are automatically updated, and no prompt is displayed.

Top of Page

Don't ask to update links for this workbook, and let me control whether links are updated

Warning    This option affects all users of the workbook. If you choose not to update links, and not to prompt, users of the workbook will not know that the data is out of date.

  1. On the Data tab, in the Connections group, click Edit Links.

  2. Click Startup Prompt.

  3. Select the option that you want.

Note   Even if you specify that Excel should not ask whether to update links, you will still be notified if there are any broken links.

Top of Page

Decide whether to update links when prompted at startup

There are a number of decisions you can make in the Startup Prompt dialog box.

If you don't remember creating links

  1. On the Data tab, in the Connections group, click Edit Links.

  2. Click Startup Prompt.

  3. Click Don't display the alert and don’t update automatic links.

    It is possible to accidentally create a link by moving or copying a range, worksheet, or chart between workbooks. Open the workbook, and then find the links that were created, and either break the link or replace it with a value.

Break a link to a source

Important    When you break a link to a source, all formulas that use the source are converted to their current value. For example, the link =SUM([Budget.xls]Annual!C10:C25) would be converted to =45. Because this action cannot be undone, you may want to save a version of the file.

  1. On the Data tab, in the Connections group, click Edit Links.

  2. In the Source list, click the link that you want to break.

    To select multiple linked objects, hold down CTRL and click each linked object.

    To select all links, press CTRL+A.

  3. Click Break Link.

  4. If the link used a defined name, the name is not automatically removed. You may want to delete the name as well.

    How to delete a name

    1. On the Formulas tab, in the Named Cells group, click Name Manager.

    2. In the Name column, click the name that you want to delete, and then click Delete.

  5. If you use an external data range, a parameter of a query may also use data from another workbook. You may want to check for and remove any of these types of links.

Replace a single formula with its calculated value

When you replace a formula with its value, Excel permanently removes the formula. If you accidentally replace a formula with a value and you want to restore the formula, click Undo Button image immediately after you enter or paste the value.

  1. Select the cell that contains the formula.

    If the formula is an array formula, select the range that contains the array formula.

    How to select a range that contains an array

    1. Click any cell in the array range.

    2. On the Home tab, in the Editing group, click Find & Select, and then click Go To Special.

    3. In the Go To Special dialog box, click Current Array.

  2. On the Home tab, in the Clipboard group, click Copy Button image .

  3. Click Paste Button image .

  4. Click the arrow next to Paste Options Button image , and then click Values Button image .

Top of Page

If you know you are not connected to the source

Click Don't Update. Excel cannot update from a source that is not connected. For example, the source may be on a network, and you may not be connected to that network.

Top of Page

If you want the data as it already exists, and don't want it replaced with new data

Click Don't Update.

Top of Page

If you tried to update last time, and it took too long

Click Don't Update. If the data does not need to be the most current, you can save time by not updating all of the links. After opening the workbook, on the Data tab, in the Connections group, click Edit Links, and then update the links only from the sources that you need.

Top of Page

If someone else created the workbook, and you don't know why you are seeing this prompt

Click Don’t Update. Contact the owner of the workbook. You can also investigate what links are in the workbook. On the Data tab, in the Connections group, click Edit Links.

Top of Page

If you answer the prompt the same way every time, and don't want to see it again

You can answer the startup prompt in a consistent way, and avoid seeing the startup prompt for this workbook.

Don't prompt for all workbooks I open, and update the links automatically    

This option is for the current user only, and affects every workbook opened. Other users of the workbook are not affected.

  1. Click the File tab, click Options, and then click the Advanced category.

  2. Under General, clear the Ask to update automatic links check box. If this check box is cleared, the links are automatically updated, and no alert is displayed.

Prompt in the same way for every user of this workbook    

Warning   This option affects all users of the workbook. If you choose to not update links, and not to prompt, users of the workbook will not know that the data is out of date.

  1. On the Data tab, in the Connections group, click Edit Links.

  2. Click Startup Prompt.

  3. Select the option that you want.

Note   You will still be notified if there are any broken links.

Top of Page

If you know the workbook Excel is trying to connect to is available

Click Update. This ensures that you have the latest data.

Top of Page

If you are using a parameter query

A link to a parameter query cannot be updated unless the source workbook is open.

  1. Click Don't Update.

  2. Close the destination workbook.

  3. Open the source workbook.

  4. Open the destination workbook.

  5. Click Update.

Top of Page

Share Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Email Email

Was this information helpful?

Great! Any other feedback?

How can we improve it?

Thank you for your feedback!

×