Excel Automation Tools (Best of List) - Automate Excel (2023)

In this Article

  • Excel Automation Tools
    • VBA Tools
      • VBA – Macro Recorder (free)
      • VBA – AutoMacro
    • Data Tools
      • Power Query / M (free)
      • SQL – QueryStorm
    • Excel Developer Tools
      • Python – Multiple Tools
        • Which Python tool to use?
      • Java – Jinx
      • C# / .NET –Excel-DNA (free)
      • C++ – XLL Plus
      • D – excel-d (free)
    • Excel Automation FAQs
      • How to Automate Excel Spreadsheets?
      • What is Excel Automation?
      • How to Automate Excel reports using Python or Java?

Excel automation generally involves building code to interact with Excel and automatically perform tasks. This article contains a comprehensive list of the best coding tools and software for Excel automation. Some tools (ex. Power Query) can be used to automate Excel without any coding knowledge. Others tools help professional developers create complex Excel add-ins.

If you’re not an experienced programmer we recommend the first three tools as your first steps into Excel Automation:

  • VBA Macro Recorder – Record actions in Excel, and replay recorded Macros to repeat processes.
  • AutoMacro – Reduces VBA’s learning curve for beginners. Makes coding VBA more accessible to non-programmers.
  • Power Query – No coding knowledge required. Easily manipulate data in Excel and save queries for future use.

In the rest of the article you’ll find Excel automation tools for Python, SQL, Java, C#, C++, and D.

VBA Tools

You may already know that Excel has the ability to record Macros. Macros allow users to record their actions in Excel, so that they can be easily repeated in the future.

Macros are saved as VBA code procedures. VBA is Excel’s built-in programming language (short for Visual Basic for Applications). VBA is stored in the Visual Basic Editor, which is built directly into Excel and other Microsoft Office software.

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For an experienced Excel user, VBA is relatively easy to learn because of it’s integration with Excel. It’s also usually the best language to use when automating Excel. You can learn VBA with our completely free, interactive VBA Tutorial.

VBA – Macro Recorder (free)

The Macro Recorder records your actions as VBA code. Macros can be replayed to repeat your recorded task(s).

See the ‘Record a Macro’ section of our VBA Tutorial for instructions for recording Macros. Note: First, you may need to add the Developer Ribbon, you will find directions to do so on the VBA Tutorial page.

(Video) Automate Excel With Python - Python Excel Tutorial (OpenPyXL)

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The Macro Recorder is a fantastic first step to automating Excel. However, you will quickly see that Macros have limitations. It can often by difficult or impossible to record Macros that work exactly the way you would like. The code often requires manual updates in order to function properly and some automation isn’t possible with the Macro Recorder.

This is where AutoMacro comes in….

VBA – AutoMacro

AutoMacro is an add-in that installs directly into the Visual Basic Editor.

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AutoMacro contains four toolbars:

  • Code Library – Easy access to 230+ commonly used code fragments. Learn More
  • Code Generators – Generate procedures or other code blocks from scratch. Beginners can program complex procedures with very limited knowledge of VBA. Learn More
  • Custom Code Library – Create and save your own code fragments for easy access and share with team members. Learn More
  • Tools – A suite of coding tools for experienced developers. Learn More

AutoMacro was developed (by us at AutomateExcel) to allow anyone to code VBA with very limited coding knowledge, while also teaching basic concepts. However, it also has many powerful tools and time-saving features for more advanced programmers.

The Code Library makes it easy for anyone to create VBA code from scratch:

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The Object Code Library in particular makes it easy for anyone to interact with Excel objects, while learning about the object structure:

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We recommend that anyone interested in Excel automation should learn at least some VBA. Using AutoMacro will help decrease the learning curve.

Data Tools

Power Query / M (free)

Power Query is a free tool from Microsoft. Download Power Query

It’s used to extract, transform, and load data in Excel. Each step is stored in M (the language behind Power Query), so that your processes can easily be automated.

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If you work with data, Power Query might be the most useful Excel tool to learn. Luckily it’s also relatively easy to learn Power Query compared to VBA or even Excel Formulas.

SQL – QueryStorm

SQL is a querying language used to interact with tables and databases.

QueryStorm is an Excel software package that allows you to make SQL queries on data stored in Excel. It also allows you to fetch data using .NET libraries and improves database connectivity.

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It’s one of the coolest and best-designed Excel add-ins that we’ve seen. If you know SQL (or want to learn) and work with large data sets in Excel, you should try it.

Excel Developer Tools

Python – Multiple Tools

Python is a general purpose programming language with excellent support for scientific computation. It is popular among data scientists and web developers, and has found applications in finance, engineering, research and many other industries.

There are several recommended tools for using Python and Excel:

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PyXLL embeds Python into Excel, enabling users to create fully featured Excel Add-Ins written in Python.

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xlwings is a popular free and open-source library to program Excel with Python.

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There are also other packages for interacting with Excel from Python: OpenPyXL and Pandas to name two.

Which Python tool to use?

The important question to ask is: Are you trying to use Python within Excel as a replacement to VBA or do you want to interact with Excel from within Python?

If you want to interact with Excel from Python, then the basic free Python Packages are probably fine. If you want to use Python to replace VBA within Excel then PyXLL is your best bet. xlwings is also an option if you want to use a free open-source solution.

PyXLL does a good job breaking down the various tools for Automating Excel with Python in this article.

Java – Jinx

Java is an object orientated class based programming language with excellent developer tools and a vast array of third party libraries. Its reported that over 3 billion devices currently run Java, with applications ranging from mobile phone apps to high frequency trading platforms and everything in between.

Jinx is an Excel Add-In that bridges Excel with Java and other JVM languages such as Scala and Kotlin, allowing you to create UDFs, macros, menus and more using Java.Jinx was created by the development team behind pyxll.

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The Jinx/PyXLL development team also created a Java library for calling into Excel via COM using an open source package: com4j. The library can be found on GitHub.

C# / .NET –Excel-DNA (free)

.NET is a framework for programming Windows-based applications (and more). C# is a programming language that can be used with .NET to develop applications. Using C# and .NET you can create add-ins for Excel. Add-ins created with .NET can be much faster, stable, and complex than add-ins created with VBA.

From Excel-DNA’s website:Excel-DNA is an independent project to integrate .NET into Excel. With Excel-DNA you can make native (.xll) add-ins for Excel using C#, Visual Basic.NET or F#, providing high-performance user-defined functions (UDFs), custom ribbon interfaces and more. Your entire add-in can be packed into a single .xll file requiring no installation or registration.

One of the primary benefits of using Excel-DNA is that your add-in can be contained in a single .xll file. No installation is required, which is very useful when deploying solutions to in corporate environments that prohibit installations.

C++ – XLL Plus

C++ is a general purpose programming language.

XLL Plus is a toolkit to aid C/C++ programmers in the construction of Excel add-in libraries. According to their website it’s used by many of the top investment banks. It’s extremely expensive ($1,345 at the time of writing), so it’s not for casual users.

D – excel-d (free)

excel-D can be used to build Excel add-ins in the D language

Excel Automation FAQs

How to Automate Excel Spreadsheets?

You can automate Excel spreadsheets by writing Macros with the VBA programming language. Technically, you can record Macros without writing any code, but advanced automation will always require some code writing / editing.

What is Excel Automation?

Excel automation is programming Macros to automation tasks in Excel. Macros are typically written in the VBA programming language (included in Excel), but they can also be written in Python or other languages.

How to Automate Excel reports using Python or Java?

Excel reports are typically automated using the built-in programming language VBA. However, they can also be automated with Python, Java, or other languages. We recommend using PyXLL or Jinx to help with Python and Java automation in Excel.

FAQs

What is the best way to automate Excel? ›

To automate a repetitive task, you can record a macro with the Macro Recorder in Microsoft Excel. Imagine you have dates in random formats and you want to apply a single format to all of them. A macro can do that for you. You can record a macro applying the format you want, and then replay the macro whenever needed.

What kinds of Excel tasks can you automate? ›

Excel automation streamlines your use of the application by automatically performing tasks like formatting cells, updating values, and running macros. With an RPA solution, you can also integrate Excel tasks in automated processes with other tasks across the enterprise.

Is Excel An automation tool? ›

Excel automation uses robotic programming to automate Microsoft Excel processes and functions. Since 1982, Microsoft Excel has been supporting businesses with its amazing ability to calculate data across any number of Excel spreadsheets (AKA workbooks) and tabs (AKA worksheets).

What are the best tools in Excel? ›

9 Excel tools for your professionals
  1. Flash fill. ...
  2. Filter and calculate with tables. ...
  3. Drop-down lists. ...
  4. Conditional formatting. ...
  5. Isolate variable data. ...
  6. Add multiple rows. ...
  7. Index match. ...
  8. Show total for numbers using Quick Analysis.
11 Mar 2022

What can you automate with VBA? ›

With VBA you can create macros to automate repetitive word- and data-processing functions, and generate custom forms, graphs, and reports. VBA functions within MS Office applications; it is not a stand-alone product. VBA is accessed in Excel by hitting Alt + F11 while having an Excel workbook present.

What can power automate do with Excel? ›

Excel Online + Power Automate
  • Connect to all your data. Link Excel to 200+ cloud services, file providers, databases, productivity apps, and more.
  • Automate manual tasks. Set up flows to manage busywork like data collection, file syncing, and sending notifications.
  • Start from any spreadsheet. ...
  • Make approvals easier.

How do you automate data analysis in Excel? ›

Four steps to automating data analysis in Excel
  1. 1 Using Formulas. We can create the above table by using excel sumifs and countifs formula. ...
  2. 2 Using named ranges. If we have only one or two tables. ...
  3. 3 Automating changing named ranges using VBA. ...
  4. 4 Automatically reading Excel files.
12 Jan 2020

How do I automate a SQL query in Excel? ›

It's a 4-steps process:
  1. Connect Excel to an external data source: your SQL database‍
  2. Import your SQL data into Excel.
  3. Create a Pivot Table with an external SQL data source.
  4. Automate Your SQL Data Update In Excel With The GETPIVOTDATA Function.

What is spreadsheet automation? ›

Automating Spreadsheets with Automate

You can automatically open, create, close, and save your workbooks, insert or delete cells, loop through a dataset, and more—all without writing any code.

Is MS Excel An RPA tool? ›

Robotic process automation (RPA) platform is used to develop a software robot (or 'RPA bot') to reproduce the same activities that employees do when they complete a job involving things like Excel. Excel is a data management tool.

What are Excel macros? ›

If you have tasks in Microsoft Excel that you do repeatedly, you can record a macro to automate those tasks. A macro is an action or a set of actions that you can run as many times as you want. When you create a macro, you are recording your mouse clicks and keystrokes.

What are 5 main functions used in Excel? ›

5 Functions of Excel/Sheets That Every Professional Should Know
  • VLookup Formula.
  • Concatenate Formula.
  • Text to Columns.
  • Remove Duplicates.
  • Pivot Tables.
23 Jan 2019

What are the 3 common uses for Excel? ›

The main uses of Excel include: Data entry. Data management. Accounting.

Is VBA worth learning? ›

Yes, VBA is worth learning in 2022. It's a broad programming language that encompasses several topics of data analytics. VBA's usefulness lies in its simple to advanced applications, such as analytics projects, binary codes, and Microsoft Office scripts.

Is VBA difficult to learn? ›

VBA is a coding language used by millions of people across the world to automate tasks in Microsoft Office products. It's a language that has been around for decades and is one of the easiest coding languages to learn if you don't have a computer science background.

Is Excel VBA useful? ›

VBA is not only useful to individuals, but also to corporate users. Companies can use the VBA programming language to automate key business procedures and internal processes.

Is Power Automate free? ›

When it comes down to Microsoft Power Automate, it's a free tool available for Microsoft users, and you can enjoy the premium features as long as you have a valid Windows 10 license available.

Can Power Automate combine Excel files? ›

Power Automate flow: Combine worksheets into a single workbook. Sign into Power Automate and create a new Instant cloud flow. Choose Manually trigger a flow and select Create. Get all the files in the folder.

Can Power Automate open a file? ›

You can use the System -> Run application action to start almost anything with almost any file. Suppose you have a file "myfile. csv" with full path in variable MyFile , and you would like to open it with Notepad instead of default Excel.

How do you automate formulas in Excel? ›

On the Formulas tab, in the Calculation group, click Calculation Options, and then click Automatic.

How do I automate Excel macros? ›

To create a macro, go to View > Macros > Record Macro. Assign the macro a name (no spaces) and click OK. Once this is done, all of your actions are recorded – every cell change, scroll action, window resize, you name it. There are a couple of places which indicate Excel is record mode.

What tools could be used to automate Excel into a database? ›

Some tools (ex. Power Query) can be used to automate Excel without any coding knowledge.
...
Excel Automation Tools
  • VBA Tools. VBA – Macro Recorder (free) ...
  • Data Tools. Power Query / M (free) ...
  • Excel Developer Tools. Python – Multiple Tools. ...
  • Excel Automation FAQs.

How do you automate a report in Excel? ›

With Power Query, you can automate your report by creating a query that pulls data from all the files in a given folder to create a single data set. From this single data set, you can quickly create a PivotTable to summarize the transactions by general ledger account and by month.

How do you auto populate data from multiple sheets to a master? ›

How to collect data from multiple sheets to a master sheet in...
  1. In a new sheet of the workbook which you want to collect data from sheets, click Data > Consolidate.
  2. In the Consolidate dialog, do as these: (1 Select one operation you want to do after combine the data in Function drop down list; ...
  3. Click OK.

What is spreadsheet automation? ›

Automating Spreadsheets with Automate

You can automatically open, create, close, and save your workbooks, insert or delete cells, loop through a dataset, and more—all without writing any code.

Can macro run automatically? ›

Using Auto open method to run a macro automatically:

Insert a New Module from Insert Menu. Copy the above code and Paste in the code window. Save the file as macro enabled workbook. Open the workbook to test it, it will Run a Macro Automatically.

How do I make VBA run automatically? ›

How To Auto-Run Macro When Excel File Is Opened - YouTube

How do I automate a SQL query in Excel? ›

It's a 4-steps process:
  1. Connect Excel to an external data source: your SQL database‍
  2. Import your SQL data into Excel.
  3. Create a Pivot Table with an external SQL data source.
  4. Automate Your SQL Data Update In Excel With The GETPIVOTDATA Function.

Is Excel best for database? ›

Excel is perfect for numerical data, making calculations, and it's easy to enter data. The rows and columns are easier to understand than some more complex database layouts.

How do you automate in Excel in Python? ›

Automating Excel Sheet in Python
  1. Table of contents. Prerequisites. ...
  2. Prerequisites. To follow along with this tutorial, you will need to have; ...
  3. Overview. ...
  4. Analyzing the Excel dataset. ...
  5. Scheming pivot tables using Pandas. ...
  6. Generating the reports using Openpyxl library. ...
  7. Automating the report using Python. ...
  8. Scheduling Python scripts.
1 May 2022

Is Access better than Excel? ›

In general, Access is better for managing data: helping you keep it organized, easy to search, and available to multiple simultaneous users. Excel is generally better for analyzing data: performing complex calculations, exploring possible outcomes, and producing high quality charts.

What is the best way to automate reports? ›

Our Pick of the Best Options for Automated Reports
  1. Built-in reporting for your CRM and key apps.
  2. Google Analytics.
  3. Google Sheets.
  4. Google Data Studio.
  5. Supermetrics.
22 Oct 2021

What is Power Query in Excel? ›

As the name suggests, Power Query is the most powerful data automation tool found in Excel 2010 and later. Power Query allows a user to import data into Excel through external sources, such as Text files, CSV files, Web, or Excel workbooks, to list a few. The data can then be cleaned and prepared for our requirements.

What is Python for Excel? ›

Getting Started. Openpyxl is a Python library that provides various methods to interact with Excel Files using Python. It allows operations like reading, writing, arithmetic operations, plotting graphs, etc.

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