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How to Automate Google Sheets Using Macros Without Coding

By Tanya | Last Updated on May 17th, 2024 11:01 am

In today's fast-paced digital environment, efficiency and automation are key to managing complex tasks with ease. Google Sheets has emerged as a powerful tool for handling data, thanks to its built-in macro feature. This guide will walk you through automating Google Sheets using macros, enabling you to streamline your tasks without the need for coding. By integrating Google Sheets with workflow automation tools, you can further enhance your productivity. Let's dive into the process of creating and using macros in Google Sheets to simplify your data management tasks.

Introduction to Macros in Google Sheets

Macros in Google Sheets are sequences of commands that automate repetitive tasks within your spreadsheets. Whether you're reformatting data, inserting rows, or applying complex functions, macros can perform these actions with the click of a button. This not only saves time but also ensures accuracy and consistency in your work.

For a simple example, let's say every week you get a list of sales data. You need to format this list by making the title row bold, changing the background color of cells to make it easier to read, and adding up the total sales at the bottom. Doing this by hand takes time and you might miss a step or make a mistake.

With a macro, you do these steps once while the macro records them. Next time you get your sales data, you just tell the macro to go, and it does all those steps for you exactly the same way, instantly. This means you spend less time on boring tasks and more time on important stuff, plus your sales data looks consistent every week.

How to Make a Macro in Google Sheets

Creating a macro in Google Sheets is a powerful way to automate repetitive tasks, transforming your spreadsheet work into a more efficient and error-free process. By learning how to automate Google Sheets with macros, you can save valuable time and streamline your data management tasks. Here are simple steps to get you started.

  1. Open Your Spreadsheet : Start by opening the Google Sheets document you wish to automate.
  2. Access the Macro Recorder : Navigate to the "Tools" menu, select "Macros", and then click on "Record Macro". This action opens a macro recording dialog at the bottom of your spreadsheet.
  3. Record Your Actions : Perform the tasks you want to automate within your spreadsheet. The macro recorder will capture every click and keystroke.
  4. Choose Reference Type : Before saving your macro, decide between using absolute references (specific cells) or relative references (positions relative to the starting cell). This choice affects how your macro applies the recorded actions.
  5. Save and Name Your Macro : After completing the actions, click "Save" on the recording dialog. Assign a name and a shortcut key to your macro for easy access.

Utilizing Macros for Data Management

Macros in Google Sheets are a game-changer for managing data efficiently. Once set up, these automated sequences can be activated to carry out tasks like data cleanup, reformatting, or analysis with just a click. For example, dealing with contact lists often involves separating full names into first and last names across columns. Manually, this is time-consuming and prone to errors. However, by creating a macro for this specific task, you can automate the entire process. This not only ensures accuracy but also significantly reduces the time and effort required, allowing you to focus on more critical aspects of your work. Utilizing macros for these repetitive tasks transforms tedious data management into a swift and error-free process.

Adding Custom Keyboard Shortcuts in Google Sheets

Google Sheets allows you to assign custom keyboard shortcuts to your macros, making them even more accessible. Here’s a streamlined approach to setting up and using these shortcuts:

  1. Identify the Need : Recognize the functions you use often that require navigating through menus, like the "Split Text" feature. These are perfect candidates for custom shortcuts.
  2. Create a Macro : Use the macro recorder by selecting "Tools" > "Macros" > "Record Macro". Perform the action you wish to shortcut, such as using the "Split Text" feature. Once done, save the macro.
  3. Assign a Shortcut : After saving your macro, you'll have the option to assign it a custom keyboard shortcut. This can be any combination involving Ctrl+Alt+Shift (or Command+Option+Shift on Mac) followed by a number.
  4. Use Your Shortcut : Now, whenever you need to perform that action again, simply press your custom shortcut keys. This bypasses menu navigation and executes the function immediately.
  5. Manage Shortcuts : To view or change your shortcuts, go to "Tools" > "Macros" > "Manage Macros". Here, you can see all your macros and their assigned shortcuts, making it easy to edit them as needed.

To further enhance your spreadsheet capabilities and discover more powerful tools, consider exploring the best Google Sheets add-ons, which can add a new level of functionality and automation to your work.

Sharing Macros Across Spreadsheets

A common limitation of macros is their restriction to the spreadsheet where they were created. However, you can overcome this by copying the Google Apps Script code behind the macro to another spreadsheet. Here's a simplified guide to moving your macros:

  1. Open the Original Spreadsheet : Start by accessing the Google Sheet that contains the macro you wish to share.
  2. Navigate to Manage Macros : Go to "Tools" > "Macros" > "Manage Macros". This will show you a list of all the macros you've created in the current spreadsheet.
  3. Edit the Macro : Find the macro you want to copy, click on the three dots next to it, and select "Edit Script". This opens the Google Apps Script editor, revealing the code behind your macro.
  4. Copy the Macro Code : In the script editor, select all the code (Ctrl+A or Command+A) and copy it (Ctrl+C or Command+C).
  5. Prepare the New Spreadsheet : Open the spreadsheet where you want to use the macro. Initiate a new macro recording via "Tools" > "Macros" > "Record Macro" and immediately save it. This step is just to create a placeholder for your macro in the new sheet.
  6. Paste the Code : Open the macro manager in the new spreadsheet ("Tools" > "Macros" > "Manage Macros"), edit the newly created placeholder macro, and replace its content by pasting the code you copied earlier.
  7. Run Your Macro : With the code pasted and saved, your macro is now ready to be used in the new spreadsheet, carrying over the automation without the need to rebuild it from scratch.

By following these steps, you can effortlessly replicate your automation tasks across different Google Sheets, saving time and ensuring consistency in your workflows.

Enhancing Google Sheets with Appy Pie

To take your automation to the next level, consider creating Google Sheets integrations with other applications using Appy Pie. This platform enables you to create automated workflows that connect Google Sheets to over a thousand apps, allowing for seamless data exchange and process automation. Whether you're adding new contacts to a spreadsheet or generating reports, Appy Pie can automate these tasks, further enhancing your productivity. Some of the most popular Google Sheets integrations includes:


Automating Google Sheets with macros is a powerful way to enhance your data management processes. By recording your actions once, you can save time and reduce errors in repetitive tasks. Custom keyboard shortcuts and the ability to share macros across spreadsheets further extend this functionality. Embrace macros in Google Sheets to transform your data handling tasks into simple, automated processes.

To dive deeper into maximizing your productivity and mastering spreadsheet automation, explore our Google Sheets tutorial for comprehensive insights and advanced tips.

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