How To Add The Developer Tab
To The Ribbon In Excel

Written by co-founder Kasper Langmann, Microsoft Office Specialist.

If you’re a power user of Excel, the Developer tab is a great addition to the Ribbon.

It lets you access useful features that are otherwise hidden away.

But you have to get to the Developer Tab to show first!

Because for some reason, it’s not in the Ribbon by default.

Let’s look at how to open up this hidden tab – as well as what you can add to it.

Open up a new workbook, and let’s get started!

Adding the Developer tab to the Ribbon

The fastest way to add the Developer tab to the Ribbon starts with a simple-right click.

Right-click on one of the Ribbon tabs, and you’ll see a new menu come up:


Click Customize the Ribbon, and you’ll get a new window:


From here, check the box next to Developer and click OK.


Once you’ve done that, the Developer tab will appear at the end of the Ribbon:


You can also access this options pane by going to File > Options > Customize Ribbon.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

While you’re in this view, take a look at some of the other options that are available, too. You can remove tabs from the Ribbon by unchecking them, for example.

Or you can remove specific sections that you don’t use from tabs. You can even add a new tab and put your most commonly used features in it:


It’s a great way to customize the Ribbon so you can work faster.

What can you do with the Developer tab?

The Developer tab has four sections—let’s go over them quickly.

First up is the Code section.


In this section, you can use some basic programming to create powerful scripts and actions in Excel.

Excel supports both Visual Basic and Excel Macros, both of which can help automate your repetitive tasks or perform complicated calculations.

Macros are complicated, but very useful—if you’re interested in finding out more, check out our Macros module in Zero to Hero. It’ll take you from beginner to expert at your own pace.

Next, we have the Add-ins section.


There’s a huge number of Excel add-ins that you can download from the Office Store. Click the Add-ins button to start browsing them.

You can find Gantt chart makers, colorizers, data visualization tools, stock market information sets, and more. There’s a mix of free and paid tools available.

The Excel add-ins and COM add-ins buttons let you manage the add-ins you’ve downloaded.

You can also see the add-ins that are available by going to the Office Store through your browser.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Third is the Controls section.


These controls help you work with form controls. Excel forms turn your spreadsheets into interactive forms.

They’re great for collecting data, sharing information, and generally making it easier to interact with worksheets.

Finally, there’s the XML tab.


Many applications read and produce data in the extensible markup language, also known as XML. This section helps Excel and re-export information in that format.

You can also use XML within Excel to specify some additional information about your data. (To find out more about what Excel can do with XML, check out Microsoft’s Overview of XML in Excel or our tutorial.)

Unless you use other applications that require XML, or you already know a lot about XML tables, you probably won’t be using this tab.

As you can see, the contents of the Developer tab are rather technical. If you don’t know why you would need any of these tools, you probably don’t need them!

Nonetheless, it’s useful to know how to find them if you do.

Kasper Langmann, Co-founder of Spreadsheeto

Get quick access to developer tools

The Developer tab opens up some very powerful possibilities—especially if you take advantage of Excel automation with Visual Basic and Excel macros.

Even if you don’t need to use form controls, XML, or add-ins, it’s nice to know where they are. And as a bonus, now you know how to customize the Ribbon to better fit your work style!