Opening macro (xlsm) 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

  1. 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
  2. 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

"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 example
Fig 8: Sample malware email - (highlight added). The download icon links to a file at


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