.xlsm File Extension: Understanding Workbook Types

Have you ever come across a file with a .xlsm extension and wondered what on earth that could be? Well, wonder no more! A file with a .xlsm extension is a type of Excel workbook that includes macros. Macros are little programs that can automate tasks within the workbook, making your life a whole lot easier. Now, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of .xlsm files and how you can work with them.

Step by Step Tutorial on Working with .XLSM Files

Before we get into the steps, it’s important to understand that working with .xlsm files isn’t all that different from working with regular .xlsx Excel workbooks. The main difference is the presence of macros. So, what can you do with a .xlsm file? Let’s find out.

Step 1: Open the workbook

Open Microsoft Excel and then open the .xlsm file you want to work with.

When you open a .xlsm file, Excel will usually warn you that the workbook contains macros. You can choose to enable or disable these macros depending on whether you trust the source of the file.

Step 2: Enable macros

If you trust the source of the workbook, enable macros to take advantage of the automated tasks they offer.

Enabling macros can save you a ton of time by automating repetitive tasks. However, only enable macros from trusted sources to avoid potential security risks.

Step 3: Explore the workbook

Familiarize yourself with the workbook and locate the macros.

.xlsm workbooks function just like any other Excel workbook. You can enter and manipulate data as usual. The added benefit is the macros that can automate certain tasks within the workbook.

Step 4: Run macros

Run the macros as needed to automate tasks within the workbook.

Running a macro is as simple as clicking a button or using a keyboard shortcut, depending on how the macro is set up. These macros can do anything from formatting cells to calculating complex equations.

Step 5: Save your changes

Save any changes you’ve made to the workbook with a new file name to avoid overwriting the original file.

When saving a .xlsm file, make sure to keep the same file extension to preserve the macros. Saving it as a .xlsx file will remove the macros from the workbook.

After you’ve completed these steps, you’ll have successfully navigated a .xlsm workbook and taken advantage of the powerful macros within. You’ll be able to save time and streamline your workflow like a pro.

Tips for Working with .XLSM Files

  • Always make sure to enable macros only if you trust the source of the workbook to avoid potential security threats.
  • Familiarize yourself with the macros in the workbook to understand what they do before running them.
  • Back up your .xlsm file before making significant changes, just in case something goes wrong.
  • Customize the macros to better suit your specific needs if you’re comfortable with VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) programming.
  • Remember that while .xlsm files are powerful, not all features may be compatible with older versions of Excel or other spreadsheet software.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between .xlsx and .xlsm file extensions?

.xlsm files can contain macros, which are automated tasks, while .xlsx files cannot.

Can I open a .xlsm file in older versions of Excel?

You can open a .xlsm file in older versions of Excel, but you might not be able to use all the features if the version doesn’t support macros.

Is it safe to download and open .xlsm files from the internet?

Only download and open .xlsm files from sources you trust, as macros can be used for malicious purposes.

Can I create my own macros in a .xlsm file?

Yes, if you’re familiar with VBA programming, you can create your own macros within a .xlsm file.

Can I convert a .xlsm file to a .xlsx file?

Yes, you can save a .xlsm file as a .xlsx file, but this will remove any macros from the workbook.


  1. Open the workbook
  2. Enable macros
  3. Explore the workbook
  4. Run macros
  5. Save your changes


In conclusion, a .xlsm file extension indicates a powerful and dynamic Excel workbook equipped with macros to facilitate your workflow. By following the step-by-step tutorial, you’re now equipped to handle these files with confidence. Remember to always enable macros from trusted sources to avoid security risks, and take advantage of the tips shared to get the most out of your .xlsm workbooks. Whether you’re a seasoned Excel user or a beginner, mastering .xlsm files can significantly enhance your productivity and data management capabilities. So go ahead, dive into those .xlsm files, and unleash the full potential of Excel’s automation features!