Change macro security settings in Excel

In Microsoft Excel, you can change the macro security settings to control which macros run and under what circumstances when you open a workbook. For example, you might allow macros to run based on whether they are digitally signed by a trusted developer (a person who writes programming code).

In this article

Macro security settings and their effects

Change macro security settings

Using digital signatures


Macro security settings and their effects

The following list summarizes the various macro security settings. Under all settings, if antivirus software that works with Microsoft Office 2010 is installed and the workbook contains macros, the workbook is scanned for known viruses before it is opened.

  • Disable all macros without notification    Click this option if you don't trust macros. All macros in documents and security alerts about macros are disabled. If there are documents that contain unsigned macros that you do trust, you can put those documents into a trusted location. Documents in trusted locations are allowed to run without being checked by the Trust Center security system.

  • Disable all macros with notification    This is the default setting. Click this option if you want macros to be disabled, but you want to get security alerts if there are macros present. This way, you can choose when to enable those macros on a case by case basis.

  • Disable all macros except digitally signed macros    This setting is the same as the Disable all macros with notification option, except that if the macro is digitally signed by a trusted publisher, the macro can run if you have already trusted the publisher. If you have not trusted the publisher, you are notified. That way, you can choose to enable those signed macros or trust the publisher. All unsigned macros are disabled without notification.

  • Enable all macros (not recommended, potentially dangerous code can run)    Click this option to allow all macros to run. Using this setting makes your computer vulnerable to potentially malicious code and is not recommended.

  • Trust access to the VBA project object model    This setting is for developers and is used to deliberately lock out or allow programmatic access to the VBA object model from any Automation client. In other words, it provides a security option for code that is written to automate an Office program and programmatically manipulate the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) environment and object model. This is a per user and per application setting, and denies access by default. This security option makes it more difficult for unauthorized programs to build "self-replicating" code that can harm end-user systems. For any Automation client to be able to access the VBA object model programmatically, the user running the code must explicitly grant access. To turn on access, select the check box.

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Change macro security settings

You can change macro security settings in the Trust Center, unless a system administrator in your organization has changed the default settings to prevent you from changing the settings.

  1. On the Developer tab, in the Code group, click Macro Security.

    Macro Security command on the Developer tab

    Note    If the Developer tab is not available, do the following to display it:

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

    2. In the Main Tabs list, select the Developer check box, and then click OK.

    3. Click any other tab to return to your file.

  2. In the Macro Settings category, under Macro Settings, click the option that you want. For detailed information about these settings, see the section Macro security settings and their effects, earlier in this article.

    Note    Any changes that you make in the Macro Settings category in Excel apply only to Excel and do not affect any other Microsoft Office program.

Tip    You can also access the Trust Center in the Options dialog box.

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

  2. Click Trust Center Settings, and then click the Macro Settings category.

For more information about macro security, see the following topics:

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Using digital signatures

Microsoft Office 2010 uses Microsoft Authenticode technology to enable macro creators to digitally sign a file or a macro project. The certificate that is used to create this signature confirms that the macro or document originated from the signer, and the signature confirms that the macro or document has not been altered.

After you install your digital certificate, you can sign files and macro projects.

Obtaining a digital certificate for signing

You can obtain a digital certificate from a commercial certificate authority (CA), or from your internal security administrator or information technology (IT) professional.

To learn more about certificate authorities that offer services for Microsoft products, see the list of Microsoft Root Certificate Program Members.

Creating your own digital certificate for self-signing

You can also create your own self-signing certificate by using the Selfcert.exe tool.

Note: Because a digital certificate that you create isn't issued by a formal certificate authority, macro projects that are signed by using such a certificate are referred to as self-signed projects. Microsoft Office trusts a self-signed certificate only on a computer that has that certificate in your Personal Certificates store.


I can’t change my macro security settings

Some users may not be able to change Trust Center settings due to group security policies in their organizations. In such cases, you need to contact the IT administrator for your organization.

What happened to the Very High, High, Medium, and Low security settings?

The security model in Microsoft Office has undergone significant changes in the last few versions. The following list approximates a mapping of Excel 2003 macro security settings to the macro security settings for Excel 2010:

Excel 2003 setting

Excel 2010 equivalent

Additional information

Very High

Disable all macros without notification

In Excel 2003, VBA macros can run only if the Trust all installed add-ins and templates option (in Excel 2003, the Trusted Publishers tab in the Security dialog box) is selected and the macros (whether signed or unsigned) are stored in a specific trusted folder on the user’s hard disk.

If not all of these conditions are met, VBA macros cannot run under the Very High security setting in Excel 2003.


Disable all macros except digitally signed macros

In Excel 2003, executable files (such as .exe or .com) must be signed by an acknowledged trusted source (that is, they must have a certificate of trust) in order to run. Otherwise, all executables associated with or embedded in documents are automatically disabled without warning the user when those documents are opened.

By default, all Office 2003 programs are installed with macro security set to High.


Disable all macros with notification

In Excel 2003, users are prompted to enable or disable executables when a document is opened. This level requires the acceptance of a certificate of trust for each executable, which is accepted by adding the certificate to a segment of the computer’s Windows registry.

Subsequent requests to run a macro from a trusted source are automatically accepted (the executable runs without prompting the user).


Enable all macros (not recommended; potentially dangerous code can run)

In Excel 2003, all macros are run without restrictions. This security level does not protect against malicious programs, does not allow for acceptance of certificates of trust, and is not considered secure in general. This level is not recommended.

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