How to use Shell function in VBA?

In VBA (Visual Basic for Applications), the Shell function is used to run an executable program. It can be employed to start an application or a batch script directly from VBA. When you use the Shell function, it returns a Variant (Double) representing the program’s task ID, which is a unique identifier for the running program.

Basic syntax


Shell(pathname[, windowstyle])

  • pathname: A string that specifies the executable file’s name along with any required arguments and command-line switches. If the path contains spaces, it should be enclosed in double quotes.
  • windowstyle: (Optional) Specifies the window style for the program being called. It can be one of the following VbAppWinStyle values:
    • vbHide: The window is hidden and focus is passed to the hidden window.
    • vbNormalFocus: The window has focus and is restored to its original size and position.
    • vbMinimizedFocus: The window is displayed as an icon with focus.
    • vbMaximizedFocus: The window is maximized with focus.
    • vbNormalNoFocus: The window is open but does not have focus.
    • vbMinimizedNoFocus: The window is displayed as an icon but does not have focus.

Here is an example of using the Shell function in VBA to open Notepad:


Sub OpenNotepad()
    Dim progID As Double
    progID = Shell("Notepad.exe", vbNormalFocus)
    If progID > 0 Then
        MsgBox "Notepad opened successfully!"
        MsgBox "Failed to open Notepad."
    End If
End Sub

In the example above, the OpenNotepad subroutine is defined to launch Notepad. By using vbNormalFocus, we indicate that Notepad should open in a normal window with focus.

Keep in mind that the Shell function does not wait for the called program to finish executing. It starts the program asynchronously and continues with the next line of code immediately. If you need to wait for the other application to complete, you would have to implement a different approach, such as using the WaitForSingleObject API call or similar.

Also, be cautious when using the Shell function as running programs automatically may pose a security risk. Always ensure that the code doesn’t execute any untrusted or potentially dangerous executables.

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