Excel Add-Ins are similar to smart phone apps and graphic plug-ins. That is, they are separate applications written by independent programmers that provide enhanced capabilities for the primary software. You can get Add-Ins for Word, PowerPoint, and other popular programs as well. Most Add-Ins are either free or have a minimal cost and, generally, use very little memory.

How do Add-Ins work?

Add-Ins are very diverse, so they function quite differently. They’re produced from hundreds of sources and cover every imaginable topic. These are the 10 main types, though many of these categories overlap:

  • Charts & Graphics
  • Data Analysis
  • Educational
  • Financial & Accounting
  • Formulas/Functions
  • Marketing
  • Productivity & Time Management
  • Reference
  • Reports & Templates
  • Utilities

Many of them are backward- and forward-compatible, but check the system requirements before you download anything. Note that newer isn’t always better: Many of the Add-Ins that were created years ago are still some of the best ones available.

How to verify which Add-Ins you already have

1. To check which Add-Ins you may already have on your system, go to File > Options > Add-Ins. When the View and Manage Microsoft Office Add-Ins screen appears, note that Excel displays the Active Add-Ins on top and the Inactive Add-Ins on bottom.

2. Generally, the Active Add-Ins are displayed somewhere on the Ribbon menu. If not (or, if your Add-In does not appear on the Active Add-In list), activate the Office Add-Ins screen again. Choose an option from the Manage: Drop Down list (in this case, choose Excel Add-Ins), then click Go.

3. Under Add-Ins Available, from the Add-Ins dialog window, check the boxes beside all the Add-Ins you want to use, then click OK.

4. If your Add-In is a COM file, choose COM Add-Ins from the Manage: Drop Down list, then click Go again.

5. Under Add-Ins Available, from the COM Add-Ins dialog window, check the boxes beside all the COM Add-Ins you want to use, then click OK.





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