Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Hiding Macros.

Hiding Macros

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 23, 2016)

Most readers already know that you can create functions and subroutines using VBA. This is no different than it is under VBA's namesake, Visual Basic. Normally, a macro shows up in the macro list when you display the Macros dialog box (Alt+F8), unless one of three conditions is met:

  • The macro is a function. Functions typically return information, and they require information to be passed to them. Since running a macro from the macro list doesn't allow either of these things to happen, Word figures there is no need to list it.
  • The macro is a subroutine with parameters. Word assumes that since parameters are necessary and you cannot provide parameters by choosing the subroutine from the macro list, there is no need to list it.
  • The subroutine has been declared Private. This means that the subroutine is only useful to code within the module in which it is declared.

The upshot of these three conditions is that the only type of macro listed in the Macros dialog box is a non-private subroutine with no parameters. In certain situations, however, you may not want those listed either. For instance, you may have created some universal subroutines that don't do anything useful if called on their own; they are designed to be called from other code. For instance, consider the following macro:

Sub MySub()
    MsgBox "We are running the macro"
End Sub

This macro will appear in the Macros dialog box. If you don't want it to appear, there are several solutions you can pursue, all of which become obvious from examining the three ways in which macros are excluded from the macro list. The first potential solution is to examine your code and find out if it is really "universal." Do you need the code from more than a single module? If you don't, then declare the subroutine Private; it will not appear in the Macros dialog box. Thus, the previous problem macro becomes the following:

Private Sub MySub()
    MsgBox "We are running the macro"
End Sub

The second way to hide the macro is to simply convert it to a function. This may sound odd, particularly if you don't want to return any values, but it is perfectly permissible. In VBA a function does not have to return a value. In the absence of explicitly declaring a return value, the function will return a default result (for example, Boolean returns False, String returns "", etc.) Thus, the problem procedure could be changed to a function and declared as shown here:

Function MySub() As Boolean
    MsgBox "We are running the macro"
End Function

This procedure will not show in the Macros dialog box and does not require arguments. It will return False by default, but this result can be ignored. Depending on the nature of the subroutine you are changing, it may be to your benefit to really allow the converted function to return True or False depending on the success of what is being done in the code. In this case, the converted function is a real function, and not really a dummy subroutine, since it is returning something of value.

The third potential solution is to use some dummy parameters with the subroutine. You don't need to do anything with them within the subroutine itself, but by including them the procedure is not listed in the macro list. In this scenario, the problem subroutine is changed to something like the following:

Sub MySub(Void As Integer)
    MsgBox "We are running the macro"
End Sub

Now the procedure is not listed in the macro list, but you need to change the way in which the subroutine is called. You must modify every instance so that a parameter is passed, even though it is never used.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1137) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Hiding Macros.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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