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What does .xlsm mean?

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  • 3 min read

If you have ever worked with Excel files, you might have encountered different file extensions such as .xls, .xlsx, and .xlsm. What do these extensions mean, and how do they affect your work?

Xlsm is a file extension that stands for Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook. It is a type of Excel workbook that can contain macros, which are small programs that automate tasks or perform calculations in Excel. Macros are written in a programming language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and can be accessed through the Developer tab in Excel.


Why use .xlsm files?

.xlsm files are useful for saving time and effort by using macros to perform repetitive or complex tasks in Excel.

For example, you can use macros to:

  • Format cells, ranges, or worksheets according to certain criteria.
  • Create charts, tables, or reports from data.
  • Insert formulas, functions, or data validation rules.
  • Copy, move, delete, or rename files or folders.
  • Send emails or generate PDFs from Excel.
  • Interact with other applications such as Word, PowerPoint, or Outlook.

Also read: How to hide and unhide rows in Excel?


How to save .xlsm files?

Once you have enabled and recorded a macro in Excel, you must save the file with .xlsm extension.

To save your workbook as a .xlsm file, follow these steps:

Step 1: Click on the File tab located at the top left corner of the screen.

Step 2: Now, navigate to Save as > Browse.

Step 3: In the Save as type option, select Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook and then click on Save.

Note: If you save your workbook as a .xlsx file instead of a .xlsm file, your macros will be disabled and unable to run them.

Also read: How to delete a sheet in Excel? 


Advantages and disadvantages of .xlsm files

.xlsm files have advantages and disadvantages compared to other Excel file formats. Let us begin by expanding on the advantages first, and then later, we will explain some disadvantages.

The advantages of .xlsm files

.xlsm files come with certain advantages that the other extensions lack. Here are some of the advantages of using .xlsm file extension:

  • They can automate tasks and perform calculations that are otherwise difficult or impossible to do in Excel.
  • They can enhance the functionality and interactivity of Excel workbooks.
  • They can reduce errors and improve accuracy by eliminating manual steps.

Disadvantages of .xlsm files

Like every good thing, the .xlsm file extension has a fair share of disadvantages too:

  • They can increase the file size and reduce the performance of Excel workbooks.
  • They can be incompatible with older versions of Excel or other applications that do not support macros.
  • They can pose security risks if they contain malicious code or come from untrusted sources.

Also read: How to encrypt an Excel file?

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Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: [email protected]

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