b EXCEL FREE

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This utility allows you to work with Microsoft® Excel® without macro alerts for your known XL files that contain macros, while maintaining the highest virus security level settings for all others XL files, thus increasing Excel security and productivity. Other features include the ability to specify Excel startup and file open options. Supported Excel Startup Options: Excel version (where more than one Excel version is installed), whether to start as a new instance, the startup window style (normal, maximized, minimized or hidden) and finally the ability to start in normal or automation mode (start a new instance without loading any add-in or XLSTART folder files). Supported File Open Options: read-only mode, password to open or write, add to recently used file Excel list, ignore read-only recommended and update links options. This is a useful tool for all Excel users, from a normal user thought to power users and script programmers.

Please Note the term XL File implies any type of Excel File (.xls, xlt, .xla, .xlsm, .xltm, .xlam, .xlsb, .xlsx or .xltx)

Basically, Excel Free is a small, single file standalone executable that doesn’t need installation. It’s flexible in its application (the way it can be used) and does not change any Excel or Windows settings, unless you specify the optional file extension association. The idea is quite simple, instead of directly starting Excel.exe (directly or by file association), ExcelFre.exe is used to start and control the boot-up process of Excel.exe and your XL file.

When ExcelFre.exe is started, it first looks in the command line for an XL filename and if present will immediately open it without any macro alerts. If ExcelFre.exe has been renamed it will look for an XL file with the same name and open it without any macro alerts. If no file name is specified, ExcelFre.exe will then either act on any command line argument switches or simply start a dialog box allowing you specify options or an XL filename.

To specify an Excel version, if there is more than one installed, and configure its start, keep the Shift key pushed while the ExcelFre.exe is loading. An alert and then a form are shown with available options. The settings that you specify will be saved in an .INI file in the same folder as ExcelFre.exe, thus you can have different ExcelFre.exe copies on your computer with different Excel versions and different start settings. You can also specify with priority the Excel version and a start setting thru arguments in the command line.

Excel Free is flexible, thus you can open an XL file without macro alert of four ways depending on your specific needs:

1 - Renaming the executable ExcelFre.exe to the XL file name

2 - Put the XL file name as argument in the command line in scripts and Windows shortcuts

3 - Associating file extensions

4 - Through the Excel standard open file dialog box

1 - Renaming the executable ExcelFre.exe to the XL file name

Copy ExcelFre.exe to the folder where the XL file is located and simply rename ExcelFre.EXE to the XL file name (keeping .EXE file extension). When you launch the renamed executable, Excel Free will recognize that its name has been changed and will look for and opens the XL file with the same name.

For example: For YourWorkbook.xls in C:\MyDocuments, the ExcelFre.exe would be copied to C:\MyDocuments and renamed to YourWorkbook.exe. When this renamed exe is launched, YourWorkbook.xls will be immediately opened in the Excel without any macro alert.

Other example: If you as a developer start your application through of a file of name MyApp.xla containing macros. You may rename the ExcelFre.exe file to MyApp.exe, put it in the same folder of MyApp.xla and create a shortcut on Windows Start Menu for MyApp.exe, when clicked, will open immediately the MyApp.xla file on Excel without any macro alerts and also optionally, with a different version of Excel and or start settings other than the defaults as set in the windows registry.

Special Names: ExcelFre.exe has two special names that change the behavior of way Excel Free searches for a matching XL file. These names are “Setup.exe” and “Install.exe”, once ExcelFre.exe has been renamed to either one of these, the matching XL file name criteria will look for the first part matching only. In other words, an exact XL file name match is not required, only the first part need match. Example; ExcelFre.exe is renamed to Setup.exe and in the same folder there is XL file called SetupApplication.XLS, The Special filename mode will recognize SetupApplication.XLS as a matching file and launch it.

All of the above features allow you to use a Windows short cut to control the launching and environment of an XL file in Excel. This can also be very useful in the creation of Autorun CD’s or Zip VBA installer packages. See Autorun CD and Zip Installer Package below.

2 - Put the XL file name as argument in the command line in scripts and Windows shortcuts

In the ExcelFre.exe command line in a Windows shortcut or in a script (bat, vbs, vba etc.) put the XL file full path & name after a space. For example:

...\ExcelFre.exe C:\MyDocuments\YourWorkbook.xls

The ExcelFre.ini file together the ExcelFre.exe will define the Excel version (if there is more than one installed), and its start setting, but you can still force a different version and start settings by putting arguments before the XL file name which also supports * and ? wildcard characters and criteria via / Wfc:n argument to filter a single file, if more than one file meets the wildcards. For example, to open the latest saved YourWorkbook*.xls from C:\MyDocuments\ folder on Excel 9.0 (2000) in a maximized window the command line would be:

 ...\ExcelFre.exe /V09 /WSmx /Wfc:4 C:\MyDocuments\YourWorkbook*.xls

The possible command line arguments here are as follows:

/V08 - Open in Excel 97, if installed

/V09 - Open in Excel 2000, if installed

/V10 - Open in Excel 2002 (XP), if installed

/V11 - Open in Excel 2003, if installed

/V12 - Open in Excel 2007, if installed

/V14 - Open in Excel 2010, if installed

/V15 - Open in Excel 2013, if installed

/V16 - Open in Excel 2016, if installed

/VExe:"name of the Excel.exe file here" - Path and name of an Excel.exe file in an active drive to be used directly. If you specify just the file name or a partial path, the Excel Free will search the file completing the path. First, it attempts to complete from the folder where it is and then from the root of each active drive on the current computer, using immediately the first found (Quotation marks are required if the path and name contain any spaces)

/WSmx - Open with Excel window in maximized style

/WSn - Open with Excel window in normal style

/WSMi - Open with Excel window in minimized style

/WSh - Open with Excel window in hidden style

/NewI - Open always in new Excel instance

/Automation - New instance clean of add-ins and XLSTART folder files

/Psw:"your password here" - Password to open or write the XL file (Quotation marks are required if the password contains any spaces)

/ReadOnly - Open in read-only mode

/IgnReadOnlyRec - Ignore read-only recommended

/AddToMRU - Add file name to Excel recently used file list

/UL0 - Doesn't update any links

/UL1 - Updates external links but not remote links

/UL2 - Updates remote links but not external links

/UL3 - Updates both remote and external links

/Wfc:n - Criteria to filter a single file when using * and ? wildcards and more than one name satisfy. Where n can be:

0 - To filter the first returned by the VB Dir() function without sorting (random)

1 - To filter the first, if ordered 0-1, A-Z. E.g. abc2010-12-20.xls, if abc2010-12-20.xls, abc2010-12-21.xls, and abc2010-12-22.xls

2 - To filter the last, if ordered 0-1, A-Z. E.g. abc2010-12-22.xls, if abc2010-12-20.xls, abc2010-12-21.xls, and abc2010-12-22.xls

3 - To filter the oldest, if ordered by last modified date saved

4 - To filter the latest, if ordered by last modified date saved

5 - To filter the largest, if ordered by size in Kb on the disc

6 - To filter the smallest, if ordered by size in Kb on the disk.

3 - Associating file extensions

You can associate the *.xlsf, *.xlaf and *.xlmf file extensions to the ExcelFre.exe application. Then you rename or save your desired alert free XL file(s) with one of these extensions.

Example: YourWorkbook.xls could be renamed or saved as YourWorkbook.xlsf

The association is registered in the Windows Register and there are two ways to make or un-make the file association, method 1 is via the ExcelFre.exe dialog box and method 2 is via the command line.

Method 1, using the dialog box: Launch ExcelFre.exe and from the dialog box, click the Associate or UnAssociate button to register or unregister the association.

Method 2, using command line arguments:

/RegF - Associate the file extensions to ExcelFre.exe in the Windows register

/UnregF - Unsassociate the extensions from ExcelFre.exe in the Windows register

/S - Make in silence.

Example: C:\Apps\ExcelFre.exe /RegF /S

The Association will be made to the path & name of the ExcelFre.exe application. Be careful not to make the association when ExcelFre.exe is localized in unreliable location such as a CD, removable drive or over a network.

4 - Opening files through the Excel standard open file dialog box

As it was briefly explained above, when ExcelFre.exe is launched, it obeys the following priority sequence to open files in the Excel:

(1) Search for a file name passed as argument in the command line

(2) Search for a file in its folder that has same name of its .exe but with .xla or (3) .xlam, (4) .xlsm, (5) .xltm, (6) .xlsb, (7) .xls, (8) .xlsx, (9) .xlt or (10) .xltx extension

(11) Finally, if no file name be found in the above sequence, it shows a dialog box. Click the “Open in Excel” button to launch Excel with its standard open file dialog box ready to locate a file to be opened without macro alert

Any Excel version can be used at any security level (Low, Medium, High or Very High).

Download:

Tested with the Microsoft Excel for Windows, versions 97 (See Note), 2000, 2002(XP), 2003, 2007, 2010 (32 and 64-bit), 2013 (32 and 64-bit), and 2016 (32 and 64-bit) in MSI-based and Click-To-Run installations of Office 365™ cloud-based services.

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Download the English version here   
You also can download from this mirror site   
Last update: 02/03/2016 - 61.4kb   
Freeware based in this License Agreement   

See also Access Free for Microsoft Access®, PowerPoint Free for Microsoft PowerPoint®, and Word Free for Microsoft Word.

And see also XLtoEXE which has some similar features, but with different approach and targets.

Increasing Excel Security and Productivity

Macros are the key for extracting the true power of Excel, taking it from a simple spreadsheet with formulas to an extremely useful work tool capable of powerful interactive and interfacing features with unlimited amounts number and text crunching capability, and unfortunately at the same time open an avenue for malicious software to be hidden in seemingly innocent XL files.

Many users turn the Excel security to the highest level to protect themselves, losing the true power of Excel, others use a medium or low level of security to allow these powerful features, however with one careless click of the mouse, the user runs a significant risk of opening a file containing malicious macros.

This is where Excel Free comes into play; Excel Free can be used to significantly increase the security level of your environment by allowing Excel to have the absolute Highest Level of Security Set, disabling all macros from unknown files, while at the same time allowing selected XL files to run powerful macros seamlessly.

Instead of Excel Free, you could use the Excel security features to set trusted locations or register trusted macro publishers, however these solutions are not simple or suitable for immediate use. They may require administrative rights and appropriate security levels, and can end up accumulating many Windows Registrations that are no longer required.

Autorun CD

Excel Free features make it easy to create Autorun CDs such that, when the CD is inserted, it will open automatically an XL file in Excel without macro alert.

Suppose that you want to make a CD that opens your XL file automatically; in this case MyApp.xla. Follow these three steps:

1 - Copy the ExcelFre.exe and rename it to MyApp.EXE

2 - Using Windows Notepad, create a text file and save it as AUTORUN.INF with these two lines:

[autorun]

OPEN=MyApp.EXE

3 - Burn the CD with these files on the root:

MyApp.xla

MyApp.EXE

AUTORUN.INF

Optionally you can also have your own application Icon by adding the ICON name to the AUTORUN.INI and adding the MyApp.ico icon file to the CD’s root directory.

[autorun]

OPEN=MyApp.EXE

ICON=MyApp.ico

Icon files can be created by an icon application like Microangelo (www.impactsoft.com).

Zip Installer Package

Excel Free features make it easy to create Zip installer package totally programmed in VBA such that, when Setup.exe (Setup.exe or Install.exe) is clicked in a Zip package, Zip will automatically extract all the files to a temporary folder, runs the Setup program and, after this completed, delete the temporary installation files and folder.

This process requires a VBA project in XL file to run the actual installation process.

The steps required to create a package are;

1 - Create a new folder (for the installation files) eg “\MyApp”

2 - Copy to this folder all the files required for the installation

3 - Also copy the XL file with the VBA project to run the actual Installation process and with the name properly started by 'Setup' or 'Install' or still 'Instl_' e.g. Setup_MyApp.XLS

4 - Copy ExcelFre.exe to this folder and rename it to Setup.exe

5 - Start Setup.exe while holding down the ‘Shift’ key and click OK to the alert – This will bring up the Excel Free options form. Make any appropriate changes, and then click ‘Open in Excel’. This will create the Setup.INI file and still test the package launching the Setup_MyApp.XLS

6 - Right click the folder (“\MyApp”) and ask the Winzip to create a zip of it.

That’s it. Remember you can use either Setup.exe or Install.exe and have to make the XL file name equal or started by 'Setup' or 'Install' or still 'Instl_'. If you want to avoid that the XL file is opened in the Excel when clicking inside the Zip, protect it with a password or change its extension to XLSf, XLAf, or XLMf.

In this site, you can see some examples of Zip packages using Excel Free like the ExcelCalendar.zip. Indeed, all add-ins and COM add-ins for Excel available on the site have their installers and uninstallers fully programmed in VBA in XLS files that are packaged with other required files in two ways: converting to EXE using XLtoEXE or zipping using Excel Free. This zip package is always available as a second alternative for those who cannot download executables or for those advanced users who want to open zip packages with more options and installation control, but with similar functionality of the EXE package:

Active Teach Ribbon for Microsoft® Excel®

Popup Spell Number for Microsoft® Excel®

Popup Calendar for Microsoft® Excel®

Popup Calculator for Microsoft® Excel®

Printed Watermark for Microsoft® Excel®

Cell Easy Entry for Microsoft® Excel®, and some others that you can see from a complete index here.

 

Acknowledgements

I would to thank the assistance of Peter Kowald from Australia. He really improved this Excel Free document with great texts and insights.

 

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