Opening macro enabled workbooks

Warning: You should only enable a macro workbook from a trusted source.

1. Excel Windows – Macro security and the Trust Center

The FBE desktop computers reset after each session, so this Macro Settings procedure will need to be performed at the commencement of each new session.

Laptops will only need to be set once, as the settings remain on the machine from session to session.

To check or change the Trust Center settings (in Excel 2010, Excel 2013, or Excel 2016):

  1. On the ribbon select File > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings … to display the Trust Center dialog box as shown in figure 1
  2. From the Trust Center dialog box, select Macro Settings, then choose the Disable all macros with notification option. Notification means that the Warning shown in figures 2, 3,5 or 6 will appear when the macro workbook is opened
  3. Click OK

Note: You should close the xlsm workbook before these changes are made. Follow the three steps above, then open the xlsm file.

Fig 1. – Excel 2010 / Excel 2013 / Excel 2016 – Trust Center dialog box – select the Disable all macros with notification option

2. Excel Mac

2.1 Sharing and Privacy

  • Click the Excel menu on the menu bar (located at the top of the screen), then select the Preferences > Sharing and Privacy > Security & Privacy > Macro Security sequence
  • Select the Check Box beside Warn me before opening a file that contains macros
  • 2.2 Mac macro warning

    Fig 2. – Excel for Mac 2016 – Macro Warning message – click Enable Macros for documents from a trusted source

    Download a pdf version of sections 1 and 2 xlf-excel-macro-security [198 Kb]

    3. Excel Windows

    Follow these steps if a Security Warning appears when you open the session workbook.

    3.1 Excel 2007

    1. Download the session file to your computer, then open the file from Excel. Do not open the file from within your web browser.
      Depending on your security settings, you will need to enable the macros. Failure to follow these instructions will cause errors such as #NAME? for functions, and inoperative macros.
    2. In Excel 2007, Click Options as shown by in figure 3
    3. Then Enable this content as shown by in figure 4
    Fig 3. – Excel 2007 macro warning – click the Options button
    Fig 4. – Excel 2007 security options – select the Enable this content option

    3.2 Excel 2010, Excel 2013 and Excel 2016

    1. In Excel 2010, Excel 2013, or Excel 2016, click Enable Content as shown by in figures 5 and 6
    Fig 5. – Excel 2010 security options – select the Enable content option
    Fig 6. – Excel 2013 and excel 2016 security options – select the Enable content option

    3.3 The security warning has been dismissed

    In cases when the Security Warning is no longer visible, you cannot change the security setting of an open workbook.

    To enable the macros:

    1. Close the macro workbook. How? Click File > Close. You do not need to Close the Excel Application
    2. Follow the appropriate macro security steps as listed above – see figure 1 and figure 6
    3. Then open the Excel workbook, and click Enable Content (item 3 in figure 6)

    3.4 Trusted locations

    Files stored in a trusted location (introduced in Office 2010) are not checked by the Trust Center. See the left column of the Trust Center (second item) dialog box in figure 1, and the example in figure 7.

    Fig 7: Excel 2016 Trust center – showing the details of the Trusted Locations settings

    3.5 Macro based malware

    • Malware is an acronym for malicious software. It is the modern day version of a computer virus
    • It is malicious in the way it acts against the intentions of the computer user
    • Malware may corrupt the computer or network components, gather sensitive information (personal details, username and password combinations, or bank account details), or even lock the computer and its data, then require the computer user to pay a ransom for release of the data encryption code
    • VBA macros embedded in Word or Excel can be used by malicious persons (criminals) to download software such as ransomware, eg. CryptoLocker

    “Macro malware usually hides in Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel documents. These malicious documents are sent as spam email attachments, or inside ZIP files attached to spam emails. They use files names designed to entice you into opening them.” Source: Microsoft Malware Protection Center

    • Malware is often distributed by email and attachments including macros – see the example in figure 8
    • Note: The “Funds RETURNED” email purports to be sent from a staff member in the same organization as the recipient!
    malware example
    Fig 8: Sample malware email – (highlight added). The download icon links to a file at


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