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Determining The ActiveShape On Your Spreadsheet With VBA

By Chris Newman •  Updated: 10/22/14 •  4 min read
Determining The ActiveShape On Your Spreadsheet With VBA

What This Does

There are times when you would like to know information about the currently selected shape on your spreadsheet.  This could be needed because you are trying to change something from a user-selected shape or you want to read in some bit of information from the shape (most commonly the shape name or text).  There are two different scenarios of code this post will provide.

  1. Determining the name of a shape that is selected by the user
  2. Determining the text of a shape that was clicked-on to run a VBA macro

In both scenarios, the code will set a shape variable to the active shape so you can then do as you please from there.

Shape Selected By User

Sub ActiveShape()
'PURPOSE: Determine the currently selected shape
'SOURCE: www.TheSpreadsheetGuru.com/the-code-vault

Dim ActiveShape As Shape
Dim UserSelection As Variant

'Pull-in what is selected on screen
  Set UserSelection = ActiveWindow.Selection

'Determine if selection is a shape
  On Error GoTo NoShapeSelected
    Set ActiveShape = ActiveSheet.Shapes(UserSelection.Name)
  On Error Resume Next

'Do Something with your Shape variable
  MsgBox "You have selected the shape: " & ActiveShape.Name

Exit Sub

'Error Handler
NoShapeSelected:
  MsgBox "You do not have a shape selected!"

End Sub

Shape Clicked On To Run A VBA Macro

Sub Shape_Clicked()
'PURPOSE: Determine what shape was clicked to initiate macro
'SOURCE: www.TheSpreadsheetGuru.com/the-code-vault

Dim ActiveShape As Shape

'Get Name of Shape that initiated this macro
  ButtonName = Application.Caller

'Set variable to active shape
  Set ActiveShape = ActiveSheet.Shapes(ButtonName)

'Do Something with your Shape variable
  MsgBox "You just clicked the " & ActiveShape.Name & " shape!"

End Sub

Using VBA Code Found On The Internet

Now that you’ve found some VBA code that could potentially solve your Excel automation problem, what do you do with it? If you don’t necessarily want to learn how to code VBA and are just looking for the fastest way to implement this code into your spreadsheet, I wrote an article (with video) that explains how to get the VBA code you’ve found running on your spreadsheet.

Getting Started Automating Excel

Are you new to VBA and not sure where to begin? Check out my quickstart guide to learning VBA. This article won’t overwhelm you with fancy coding jargon, as it provides you with a simplistic and straightforward approach to the basic things I wish I knew when trying to teach myself how to automate tasks in Excel with VBA Macros.

Also, if you haven’t checked out Excel’s latest automation feature called Power Query, I have put together a beginner’s guide for automating with Excel’s Power Query feature as well! This little-known built-in Excel feature allows you to merge and clean data automatically with little to no coding!

How Do I Modify This To Fit My Specific Needs?

Chances are this post did not give you the exact answer you were looking for. We all have different situations and it's impossible to account for every particular need one might have. That's why I want to share with you: My Guide to Getting the Solution to your Problems FAST! In this article, I explain the best strategies I have come up with over the years to get quick answers to complex problems in Excel, PowerPoint, VBA, you name it

I highly recommend that you check this guide out before asking me or anyone else in the comments section to solve your specific problem. I can guarantee that 9 times out of 10, one of my strategies will get you the answer(s) you are needing faster than it will take me to get back to you with a possible solution. I try my best to help everyone out, but sometimes I don't have time to fit everyone's questions in (there never seem to be quite enough hours in the day!).

I wish you the best of luck and I hope this tutorial gets you heading in the right direction!

Keep Learning

Chris Newman

Chris Newman

Chris is a finance professional and Excel MVP recognized by Microsoft since 2016. With his expertise, he founded TheSpreadsheetGuru blog to help fellow Excel users, where he shares his vast creative solutions & expertise. In addition, he has developed over 7 widely-used Excel Add-ins that have been embraced by individuals and companies worldwide.