How to install an Excel Add-in

Today’s article explains everything you need to know about how to install an excel add-in – or plugin, as it’s also known. We’ll show you what it is, why it’s important for Excel, how to install this type of Excel file.

Read our step-by-step tutorial on how to install an Excel add-in quickly. Furthermore, download various free add-ins collection!

What’s an Excel Add-in?

An add-in is an Excel file that contains VBA modules. The file extension is “.xla” (in earlier Excel versions) or “.xlam” (in Excel 2007 and above).

In most cases, an add-in is a ribbon controlled application. You can use the main functions through custom buttons, tabs, and drop-down lists. After the successful installation, the add-in will start every time Excel is opened.

Using custom UI and a little XML manipulation, you can design graphical user interfaces, like this:

ribbon ui sample interface for add-in

How to install an Excel Add-in – Step by Step Guide

Installing an add-in is not rocket science; you have to follow these simple steps below.

1. First, download the add-in file to your drive.

If the package has a .zip extension, extract it. We recommend you to create a folder named “DataXL” (or what you want). After that, copy or move it in your preferred folder, for example, in your Documents folder.

download the add-in file to your drive

2. Go to the ribbon and click the Developer tab. Click the Excel add-ins button. A new window will appear.

install an excel add-in start from the ribbon

Optional step: Learn how to enable the Developer tab on the ribbon if you have not see it.

3. Click Browse and locate the add-in file.

click browse to locate the add-in file

4. Select the file and click OK.

Select the add-in file to install

5. From now, the add-in will appear in the list. Click OK.

the add-in will appear in the list

If you are in a hurry, watch our video about how to install the add-in quickly.

Additional steps, known issues, and solutions

We have to make two side notes here. After the successful installation, you have to

  • move the add-in into a trusted location
  • unblock the add-in (for security reasons)

Download Free Add-ins

DataXL is a free productivity suite for Excel with many time-saving solutions. DataFX is our latest project. We’ve just picked the best excel user-defined functions and implement them into one efficient tool.

Additional resources