20 ways to Optimize VBA Code for FASTER Macros

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This article contains both the knowledge and good practices which if followed and used effectively then it might put you in elite category of excellent VBA programmers.

VBA programs are known to save a lot of time and now this post is to save further time. Read them carefully and open new pathways of innovation in creating Excel dashboards, reports and automation.

Here is a summary of the article:

1. Analyze the Logic
2. Turn off ScreenUpdating
3. Turn off Automatic Calculations
4. Disable Events
5. Hide Page breaks
6. Use 'WITH' statement
7. Use vbNullString instead of ""
8. Release memory of Object variables
9. Reduce the number of lines using colon(:)
10. Prefer constants
11. Avoid Unnecessary Copy and Paste
12. Clear the Clipboard after Paste
13. Avoid 'Macro Recorder' style code.
14. Use 'For Each' than 'Indexed For'
15. Use 'Early Binding' rather 'Late Binding'
16. Avoid using Variant
17. Use Worksheet Functions wherever applicable
18. Avoid If, Else to check if True or False whenever possible
19. Disable Application.DisplayStatusBar
20. Read/Write Large Blocks of Cells in a Single Operation

Analyze the logic

Analyze the logic: Before optimizing the syntax, pay more attention in optimizing the logic. Without a good logic, a good written VBA macro program has no value. So streamline your program logic and get the best performance of macros.

Avoid Screen Flickering or Screen Repainting

Avoid Screen Flickering or Screen Repainting using:

Application.ScreenUpdating = False 'To Turn Off at the start of code.
Application.ScreenUpdating = True  'To Turn on at the end of the code.

The ScreenUpdating property controls most display changes on the monitor while a procedure is running. When screen updating is turned off, toolbars remain visible and Word still allows the procedure to display or retrieve information using status bar prompts, input boxes, dialog boxes, and message boxes.

You can increase the speed of some procedures by keeping screen updating turned off. You must set the ScreenUpdating property to True when the procedure finishes or when it stops after an error. Refer MSDN for details.

Turn off automatic calculations

Turn off automatic calculations: Whenever content(s) of a cell or range of cells are changed, the formulas dependent on them and Volatile functions are recalculated. You may turn off the automatic calculation using:

Application.Calculation = xlCalculationManual 'To turn off the automatic calculation
Application.Calculation = xlCalculationAutomatic 'To turn On the automatic calculation

Now, whenever due to the program logic(that due to macros dependent on existing formulas) you need to calculate the formulas, you may use the following code accordingly.

ActiveSheet.Calculate ' To calculate the formulas of Active Worksheet
Application.Calculate ' To calculate the formulas of Active workbook or all workbooks in current application.

Stop Events

Stop Events: Use Application.EnableEvents to tell VBA processor whether to fire events or not. We rarely fire an event for each cell we're changing via code. Hence, turning off events will speed up our VBA code performance.

Hide Page Breaks

Hide Page Breaks: when we run a Microsoft VBA macro in a later version of Microsoft Excel, the macro may take longer to complete than it does in earlier versions of Excel.

For example, a macro that required several seconds to complete in an earlier version of Excel may require several minutes to complete in a later version of Excel. This problem may occur if the following conditions are true:

  • The VBA macro modifies the properties of many rows or columns.
  • An operation has been performed that forced Excel to calculate page breaks. Excel calculates page breaks when we perform any of the following operations:
  • 1. We display a print preview of your worksheet.
    2. In Microsoft Office Excel 2003 and in earlier versions of Excel, we click Page Setup on the File menu.
    3. We modify any of the properties of the PageSetup object in a VBA macro.

  • In Excel 2003 and in earlier versions of Excel, we selected the Page breaks check box on the View tab of the Options dialog box.

Solution: is to disable Page breaks using:

ActiveSheet.DisplayPageBreaks = False

Refer to this Microsoft article for more details - http://support.microsoft.com/kb/199505.

Use WITH statement when working with objects

Use 'WITH' statement when working with objects: If we have to access an object's properties and methods in several lines, we must avoid using object's name or fully qualified object path again and again. It is annoying for VBA processor as it needs to fully qualify the object each time.


Sheets(1).Range("A1:E1").Font.Italic = True

Sheets(1).Range("A1:E1").Font.Interior.Color = vbRed
Sheets(1).Range("A1:E1").MergeCells = True


With Sheets(1).Range("A1:E1")

.Font.Italic = True
.Font.Interior.Color = vbRed
.MergeCells = True
End With

The point here to understand is minimum qualifying of an object by VBA processor. i.e. using minimum dots/periods(.) in the code. This concept tells us to use [A1] rather than Range("A1") and Range("StockRange")(3,4) rather than Range("StockRange").Cells(3,4).

Use vbNullString instead of ""(2 double quotes)

Use vbNullString instead of ""(2 double quotes): vbNullString is slightly faster than "", since vbNullString is not actually a string, but a constant set to 0 bytes, whereas "" is a string consuming at least 4-6 bytes for just existence.

For example: Instead of strVariable = "", use strVariable = vbNullString.

Release memory from object variables

Release memory from object variables: Whenever we create an object in VBA, we actually create two things -- an object, and a pointer (called an object reference). We might say, "VB does not use pointers", but it is not true.

"VB does not let you manipulate pointers" is more precise. Behind the scenes, VB still makes extensive use of pointers. To destroy an object in VB, you set it to Nothing. But wait a minute. If all we ever use are object pointers, how can we set the object itself to Nothing? The answer is: We can't.

When we set a reference to Nothing, something called the garbage collector kicks in. This little piece of software tries to determine whether or not an object should be destroyed. There are many ways to implement a garbage collector, but Visual Basic uses what is called the reference count method.

When VB interprets the last line (where we generally sets our objects to Nothing), it will remove the existing reference. At this point, if the object has no more references, the garbage collector will destroy the object and deallocate all its resources. If any other references point to the same object, the object will not be destroyed.

Reduce the number of Lines

Reduce the number of Lines: Avoid multiple statements especially when they can be clubbed into one line. For example - See these 2 macros:


    With Selection

.WrapText = True
.ShrinkToFit = False
End With


    With Selection

.WrapText = True: .ShrinkToFit = False
End With

As you can see, you can club multiple statements into one using colon character (:). When you do this with multiple statements, it will decrease the readability but will increase the speed.

Compiler Logic: When we save the macro, it is virtually compiled and unlike it's human readable form as we saw in VBE(Visual Basic Editor), keywords(the dark blue words which you cannot use as variable) are saved as three-byte token which are faster to process as machine understand them better and variables, comments and literal strings which are not either keyword or directive are saved "as is".

However VBA compiler tokenizes the word but it does not compress the lines and each line is maintained as is ending with the 'Carriage Return'.

When the VBA macro is executed, VBA processor fetched single line at a time. The tokens of the fetched line saved by virtual compiler are now interpreted and executed then next line is fetched and so on. When we combine multiple lines using colon into one line, we're reducing the number of fetch cycles the processor must go through.

Suggestion: This change will bring minor difference in time due to faster processors today. Moreover, you cannot have more than 255 characters in a line and you won't be able to debug your code using F8 efficiently. So it's a kind of useless, there is no reason to trade-off with readability with such a minor change in time.

Declare variable as Variable and constant as Constant

Declare variable as Variable and constant as Constant: Seems, obvious ! But many of us don't follow it. Like:

Dim Pi As Double

Pi = 3.14159

Instead use:

Const Pi As Double

Pi = 3.14159

Since, its value is never changed so it will be evaluated once during compilation unlike variable which are evaluated many times during the run-time.

Avoid Unnecessary Copy and Paste

Avoid Unnecessary Copy and Paste: Follow this table rules:

Instead of:


Application.CutCopyMode = False
'Clear Clipboard

Use this:

'Bypass the Clipboard

Sheet1.Range("A1:A200").Copy Destination:= Sheet2.Range("B1")

Instead of:


Sheet2.Range("B1").PasteSpecial xlPasteValues
'Clear Clipboard

Use this:

'Bypass the Clipboard if only values are required

Sheet2.Range("B1:B200").Value = Sheet1.Range("A1:A200").Value

Instead of:


Sheet2.Range("B1").PasteSpecial xlPasteFormulas
'Clear Clipboard

Use this:

'Bypass the Clipboard if only formulas are required

Sheet2.Range("B1:B200").Formula = Sheet1.Range("A1:A200").Formula

Same can be done with FormulaR1C1 and Array formulas.

Use Worksheet Functions rather developing own logic

Use Worksheet Functions rather developing own logic: By using Application.WorkSheetFunction, we tell VBA processor to use native code rather than interpreted code as VBA understands the worksheet functions better than your algorithm. So, for example use:

      mProduct = Application.WorkSheetFunction.Product(Range("C5:C10"))

Rather than defining your own logic like this:

      mProduct = 1

For i = 5 to 10
mProduct = mProduct * Cells(3,i)

Use "For Each" rather than "indexed For"

Use "For Each" rather than "indexed For": We can avoid using Indexed For when looping through collections. For example, take the code just before this tip. It can be modified to:

      For Each myCell in Range("C5:C10")

mProduct = mProduct * myCell.Value

This is in relation to qualifying object again and again as using "WITH" statements.

Avoid using Macro Recorder style code

Avoid using Macro Recorder style code: yes, the code will look genius and eventually perform like genius too! You'll better catch it with example, so use:

      [A1].Interior.Color = vbRed

Rather than:


Selection.Interior.Color = vbRed

Using too many Select and Selection effects the performance drastically. Ask yourself why to go in Cell and then change the properties? Or rather ask why to go pizza shop when you can enjoy it at your home. :-)

Avoid using Variant and Object in declaration statements

Avoid using Variant and Object in declaration statements: Think about better logic and get rid of them. i.e. do not use: Dim i As Variant or Dim mCell As Object.

By trying to be specific,we will save a lot of system memory this way, particularly in case of large projects. We may not remember which has been declared variant above and misuse a variable assigning any value to it which will be type-casted without errors.

A variant's descriptor is 16 bytes long while double is 8 bytes, long is 4 bytes and integer is 2 bytes. Hence use Variant cautiously. As an example, use:

      Dim i As Long rather than Dim i As Variant

Similarly use:

      Dim mCell As Range

Dim mSheet As Worksheet

Rather than:

      Dim mCell As Object

Dim mSheet As Object

Declare OLE objects directly

Declare OLE objects directly: Declaring and defining the OLE objects in declaration statement is called 'Early Binding' but declaring an object and defining it later is called 'Late Binding'. Always prefer 'Early Binding' over 'Late Binding'. Now for example use:

      Dim oXL As Excel.Application

Rather than:

      Dim oXL As Object

Set oXL = CreateObject("Excel.Application")

Avoid If, Else whenever possible

More often than not people would use an If, Else statement to test whether a condition is TRUE or FALSE. There is however a slightly faster (and less typing) method. The first example shows the common method, while the second shows a faster method.

Of course in such a small example the difference is not noticeable.

Sub TrueOrFalseSlower()

Dim bYesNo As Boolean
Dim i As Integer
If i = 5 Then
bYesNo = True
bYesNo = False
End If
MsgBox bYesNo
End Sub

Here's a better way:

Sub TrueOrFalseFaster()

Dim bYesNo As Boolean
Dim i As Integer
bYesNo = (i = 5)
MsgBox bYesNo
End Sub

Another example about TRUE and FALSE scenarios:

Sub ToggleTrueOrFalseSlower()

Dim bYesNo As Boolean
If bYesNo = False Then
bYesNo = True
bYesNo = False
End If
MsgBox bYesNo
End Sub

Here's a much better way:

Sub ToggleTrueOrFalseFaster()

Dim bYesNo As Boolean
bYesNo = Not bYesNo
MsgBox bYesNo
End Sub

Disable Application.DisplayStatusBar

Application.DisplayStatusBar: This setting tells Excel to stop showing status while False. For example, if you use VBA to copy/paste a range, while the paste is completing Excel will show the progress of that operation on the status bar.

To disable the status bar you'll use:

Application.DisplayStatusBar = False

Turning off screen updating is separate from turning off the status bar display so that you can disable screen updating but still provide feedback to the user, if desired. Again, turn it back on right before your code ends execution.

Read/Write Large Blocks of Cells in a Single Operation

This optimization explicitly reduces the number of times data is transferred between Excel and your code. Instead of looping through cells one at a time and getting or setting a value, do the same operation over the whole range in one line, using an array variable to store values as needed.

For each of the code examples below, I had put random values (not formulas) into cells A1:C10000.

Here’s a slow, looping method:

Dim DataRange as Range 

Dim Irow as Long
Dim Icol as Integer
Dim MyVar as Double
Set DataRange=Range(“A1:C10000″)
For Irow=1 to 10000
For icol=1 to 3
MyVar=DataRange(Irow,Icol) ‘Read values from the Excel grid 30K times
If MyVar > 0 then
MyVar=MyVar*Myvar ‘ Change the value
DataRange(Irow,Icol)=MyVar ‘Write values back into the Excel grid 30K times
End If
Next Icol
Next Irow

Here’s the fast version of that code:

Dim DataRange As Variant 

Dim Irow As Long
Dim Icol As Integer
Dim MyVar As Double
DataRange = Range(“A1:C10000″).Value 'read all the values at once from the Excel grid, put into an array
For Irow = 1 To 10000
For Icol = 1 To 3
MyVar = DataRange(Irow, Icol)
If MyVar > 0 Then
MyVar=MyVar*Myvar 'Change the values in the array
DataRange(Irow, Icol) = MyVar
End If
Next Icol
Next Irow
Range(“A1:C10000″).Value = DataRange 'writes all the results back to the range at once

1 thought on “20 ways to Optimize VBA Code for FASTER Macros”

  1. Do you work a lot with Excel? Do you know that VBA is a full programming language? As every programming language even VBA has some performance guidelines and tips to give you better performance when manipulating lot of data in spreadsheets and modifying them.

    Read more on HeelpBook (www.heelpbook.net):

    HeelpBook.net – 20 ways to Optimize VBA Code for FASTER Macros – http://heelpbook.altervista.org/2014/20-ways-to-optimize-vba-code-for-faster-macros/ #howto #excel #microsoft #vba HeelpBook Heelpbook Portal Stefano Maggi

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