How to Add Developer Tab in Excel? 2 Easy Ways!

If you’ve been following our Excel tutorials for a while, you would have come across a reference to the ‘Developer tab’ quite a lot of times. 

You might also have noticed that the ‘Developer’ tab is not available in your Excel ribbon by default. You will need to explicitly enable the tab for it to be visible.

This tutorial will explain what the developer tab is all about, why it is hidden by default, and show you two ways to add the developer tab to your Excel ribbon.

What is the Developer Tab in Excel?

The Developer tab is a feature that gives you quick access to certain advanced features and allows you to perform certain advanced tasks in Excel (such as interactive controls to VBA programming).

The ‘Developer’ tab is built-in but hidden by default.

When it is enabled, it exists in the Excel ribbon, along with all the other Excel tabs.

The Developer tab consists of several menu groups, like Code, Add-ins, Controls, and XML. It is usually used by mid-level or advanced Excel users, who need to create macros, write code or install add-ins.

Why You May Need the Developer Tab?

If you’re just starting out and are still learning how to use Excel, then you probably don’t need to use the Developer tab yet.

However, if you’re looking to automate certain tasks, you can write small pieces of code using VBA. You can also use VBA to create applications that can be used with other Office programs.

Another way to automate tasks is by using Macros. You can record macros to quickly run common tasks that need to be performed frequently.

To write any code or record and manage your macros, you need access to the Developer tab.

Besides this, even for simpler tasks like adding interactive controls (checkboxes, radio buttons, combo boxes, and scroll bars), you will need the Developer tab.

This is because all Form and ActiveX control buttons exist as part of this tab.

Why is the Developer Tab Disabled by Default in Excel?

The Developer tab is primarily meant for mid-level to advanced users.

So, Excel tries to keep its interface user-friendly for beginners, by hiding some of the tabs.

This also keeps the interface clutter-free and makes sure that beginners are not overwhelmed with too many bells and whistles.

Besides this, keeping advanced-level features out of reach from beginners also keeps them from accidentally making critical changes that they don’t know to reverse.

How to Add the Developer Tab in Excel?

To add the Developer tab in Excel, you mainly need access to the Excel Options dialog box.

There are two routes to get to this dialog box.

Let us take a look at each of these methods one by one:

Method 1: Adding the Developer Tab Directly from the Excel Ribbon 

This method lets you quickly access the Excel Options dialog box directly from the main menu, located at the top of the Excel window.

Here are the steps:

  1. Right-click on any of the tabs in the Excel ribbon.
  2. Select ‘Customize the Ribbon’ from the context menu that appears.
Click on Customize the ribbon
  1. This opens the Excel Options dialog box, with the Customize Ribbon option already selected from the category list on the left.
Excel options dialog box
  1. Under the list of Main Tabs on the right, check the box next to ‘Developer’.
Check the developer option
  1. Click OK.

That’s all, you should now be able to see the Developer tab added to the list of tabs in the Excel ribbon.

Developer tab appears in the ribbon

Method 2: Adding the Developer Tab from the File Menu

This method takes a slightly longer route to the Excel Options dialog box. The steps are as follows:

  1. Click on the File tab.
Click on File
  1. From the list on the left sidebar, select Options.
Click on Options
  1. You should now see the Excel Options dialog box. Select ‘Customize Ribbon’ from the list of options on the left.
Click on Customize the ribbon
  1. Now follow the same steps discussed in Method 1, starting from step 4.

You’ve now customized the ribbon to include the Developer tab, along with all the other existing tabs.

The developer tab shows up in the ribbon

Once you’ve added the Developer tab to the ribbon, it’s always going to remain there, until you deactivate it.

What Does the Developer Tab Contain?

When the Developer tab is activated you will notice that it has 4 different groups:

  • Code: This group consists of buttons for both VBA and Macros.
    • VBA: You can use the Code tab to write and run VBA code. The Visual Basic button opens a VBA editor window which lets you write, edit and run code in the Visual Basic language.
    • Macros: The Code group also provides options to record, manage and run macros. Macros help you record a set of actions. These recorded actions can be tied to a particular shortcut, so that they get triggered whenever you use the shortcut.  
  • Add-ins: This group contains features that help you add extra features and commands to your Excel installation. Add-ins are additional programs that may be built-in or developed by others, but are not immediately available in Excel. To use add-ins, you need to first install and activate them. An example of a built-in add-in is the Analysis Toolpak, which lets you perform different kinds of statistical analytics. The Add-ins group of the Developer tab contains buttons to install and manage both Excel, as well as COM add-ins.
  • Controls: You can insert 2 types of controls in your Excel worksheet – Form controls and ActiveX controls. Form controls are simple controls that you use in general forms, while ActiveX controls are more advanced and flexible. The Controls group contains tools that let you insert controls, edit the VBA code for them and switch the Design mode to on or off.
  • XML: The XML group of the Developer tab lets you import and export XML data created to and from other applications. It also includes tools to manage expansion packs that may be included in a worksheet. Moreover, the Source tool in this group opens the Source Task pane, which lets you manage XML maps that are in the workbook.

How to Reposition the Developer Tab in the Excel Ribbon

By default, the Developer tab is placed right after the View tab when you activate it. 

Developer tab is placed next to the view tab

However, if you prefer to position it somewhere else, you can do so quite easily.

Here are the steps to change the position of the Developer tab:

  1. Right-click on any of the tabs in the Excel ribbon.
  2. From the context menu that appears, select ‘Customize the Ribbon’.
Select Customize the ribbon
  1. This opens the Excel Options dialog box. From the list under Main Tabs (on the right side), click on the ‘Developer’ option to select it.
Click on the Developer option
  1. Click on the upward or downward arrows (that can be seen to the right of the list) to move the Developer option up or down. This changes the position of the Developer tab relative to the position of the other tabs in the list.
Click on the Upward or downward arrow to reposition developer tab
  1. Once the tabs are positioned to your liking, click OK to save the changes and close the Excel Options dialog box.

How to Remove the Developer Tab from the Excel Ribbon

If you want to remove the Developer tab or deactivate it, here are the steps that you need to follow:

  1. Right-click on any of the tabs in the Excel ribbon.
  2. From the context menu that appears, select ‘Customize the Ribbon’.
  3. This opens the Excel Options dialog box. From the list under Main Tabs, uncheck the box next to ‘Developer’.
Uncheck the developer option
  1. Click OK.

In this tutorial, we looked at the Excel Developer tab, what it contains and why we need it.

Since Excel beginners don’t need to use it on a day-to-day basis, the Developer tab is initially deactivated as a default Excel setting.

In this tutorial, we showed you two ways to add this tab to the Excel ribbon, how to reposition it in relation to other tabs, and if needed, how to remove it from the ribbon as well. We hope this helps you.

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