How to enable the Developer tab and open the Visual Basic Editor in Word and Excel 2016 and Office 365

These step-by-step instructions show you how to add the Developer tab to the Ribbon in Word and Excel 2016 and Office 365, and to use it to launch the Visual Basic Editor and access Visual Basic for Applications.

Visual Basic for Applications (VBA for short) is a handy way to automate Microsoft Office tasks and is a favorite of many Word and Excel power users. And although VBA is installed by default, accessing the Visual Basic Editor (VBE), through which you'll enter your VBA code, doesn't automatically appear in the Ribbon.

Never fear, you can add it to the Ribbon by enabling the Developer tab. From within an Office application, such Word 2016 or Excel 2016:

  1. Click File
  2. Click Options
  3. Click Customize Ribbon
  4. Under the list of Main Tabs, select Developer
  5. Click OK

The Developer tab will now appear on the Ribbon and from it you can open the Visual Basic Editor.


You can open the Visual Basic Editor by adding the Developer tab to the Excel 2016 Ribbon or using the keyboard shortcut Alt F11.

If opening the Developer tab and clicking a button is a little too much work, you can also open the editor with the keyboard shortcut Alt+F11, which works whether the Developer tab is enabled or not.

SEE: Windows spotlight: 30 tips and tricks for power users (Tech Pro Research)

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By Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...