Excel Add-in Ribbon Disappears

A recent Microsoft Office security update (for July 2016) has caused add-in Ribbon Menu Bars to disappear when Excel is opened. What a frustrating issue! This article explains the possible solutions to fix it.

Good to know when you download the add-in from the internet, it will be blocked by default.

Let us see the difference between add-in files and regular Excel files:

If you are working with regular Excel files with .xlsx or .xlsm extensions, you’ll get a security prompt.

If you are using add-in files (.xla or .xlam files), you’ll be flying blind, because you’ll never be faced with a security prompt. So we will not have any idea why the add-in Ribbon disappeared.

Are you using an Excel add-in that keeps disappearing? Before we dive in, learn more about the disappearing ribbon effect, and check out our video:

Solution 1: Move Add-in files to a Trusted Location

This is the most efficient method to fix the disappearing add-in ribbon after installation. We recommend moving your downloaded add-in folder to the trusted locations list.

How to add a folder to the Trusted Locations list in Excel?

Open the Trusted Locations menu and use the following path: File > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings > Trusted Locations.

After that,

  1. Click the “Add new location” button.
  2. Click the “Browse” button.
  3. Jump to the folder that contains the add-in. Click OK.
  4. Click the “Subfolders of this location are also trusted” checkbox if you are using subfolders.
  5. Press the OK button twice. Close the Trust Center Window.
  6. Close and restart Microsoft Excel.

Tip: You find the default AddIns folder under the following path:

C:\Users\<your_username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\AddIns

This folder is not trusted by default so you have to add it to the Trusted Locations list.

Unblock the Add-in file

If the Trusted location method does not help, we try to figure something out.

To Unblock the File, please follow the steps below:

  1. Right-click the add-in file (.xla or .xlam) and select Properties.
  2. Check the Security section of the General tab. Check the Unblock box.
  3. Finally, click the OK button.

Just close Excel and re-open it, the add-in and the custom ribbons will appear.

Use proper syntax in CustomUI.xml

Here is a sample customUI.xml content:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<customUI xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/office/2006/01/customui">
  <ribbon>
    <tabs>
      <tab id="TestTab" label="Test tab" >
        <group id="TestGroup" label="Test group" >
          <button id="test" visible="true" size="large" 
                  label="Test Sub" 
                  onAction="test_only" />
        </group>
      </tab>
    </tabs>
  </ribbon>
</customUI>

For testing purposes, I’ve just created one sub in a module:

Sub test_only()
    MsgBox "test"
End Sub

Clicking on the newly created ribbon item (to start the “test_only” macro, we’ll get an error message.

The solution is simple.

Add ‘control As IRibbonControl‘ as an argument to your subroutine. For example, if the name of your subroutine is ‘test_only ‘, then use this code:

Sub test_only(control As IRibbonControl)
    'your code goes here
End Sub

Office Group Policy – Custom UI Ribbon Blocking

To update the default group policy setting that is preventing the button from being added:

  1. Start gpedit.msc
  2. Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Office > Global Options > Customize
  3. Now Disable UI Extending from documents and templates
  4. Uncheck “Disallow in Excel”
  5. Close gpedit
  6. Apply the “gpupdate /force” command to update the change on the local machine
  7. Finally, launch Excel and check that the Solver add-in is displayed in the Data -> Analysis ribbon

Additional resorces