Macros have been with us for a very long time and indeed showed up in some of the very early versions of Microsoft Office. In this piece I will look at the macros in Microsoft Office and consider the benefits and downsides.

What is a macro?

Automation is good as it saves us having to perform tedious tasks that a computer can easily take care of. This is essentially what a macro is and does. In terms of Microsoft Office a macro is a command that records one or more actions and combines them together with the click of a button. An example of a macro is changing the arguments in a document in order to create a custom layout for your documents. How can I run them? To use macros in Office 2007 and Office 2010 you need to enable the developer tab under the Office Button -> Word Options -> Popular. To run a macro simply click on the Record Macro and give it a name that makes sense. When you have completed your actions click on Stop Recording. To use the macro click on Macros and select the macro you have created and click on Run.

Benefits

Macros can provide shortcuts In the same way we can use keyboard shortcuts macros offer us a powerful way to capture a sequence of actions.We can customize Macros allow us to set our Microsoft Office programs up the way we want to work with them. This can be useful in business settings where there are specific requirements that are not Microsoft Office standard settings.

We can program macros

For more advanced users they offer option of using VBA scripts to perform far more complex tasks and with multiple files and computer systems.

Downsides

Macros are non-standard. If an organization uses very specific macros new users need to be trained in their use.Security risks The default settings in Office 2007 allow macros to run or not to run. We can not select individual macros. This has security implications especially if documents come from an unknown source. If the files also have malicious programming they could do damage to your system and to other systems.

Keeping them up to date

If there any changes to how an organization works macros may need to be amended or edited. If the organization changes to a new system it will have to take into account the features in any macros. This can be time-consuming particularly if there is an incomplete record of macros and what they do.

Conclusion

Macros offer quick commands that will allow us to adjust documents, program tasks, change how they open and how we work with them. This can make life easier for a user. The main downside is the security risk. Not only this the non-standard nature of macros can also make maintenance very difficult and they can have a very negative impact if an organization wants to change its system. There is no question that macros are tremendously useful but they should not be used without a thought to the overall impact they will have. Saving two minutes to add two hours somewhere else is not a saving.

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