How to display the developer tab in Excel, Outlook and Word 2019 / 365?

Last updated: October 2019

Applicable to: Office 365, 2019, 2016, 2013; Windows 7, 8 & 10 and mac OS operating systems.

Here’s a question we got from a reader:

I am trying to figure out macro development from going through code examples in your website. I figured out that some of the examples point out to the developer menu in Microsoft Excel, Word and Outlook. For some reason, i don’t see that menu item in the Ribbon. Am i missing out something? Is there any specific setting or configuration to make the Developer tab visible?

Thanks for the good question.

As we explained in the past, the simplest way to automate tasks in Microsoft Office applications (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Visio, Access and Outlook) is using Macros. Depending on which application you want to automate, you can either record or write your Macro.

Recording macros might be good for starters, but most probably you will be using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to write your custom Macros.

Getting started with Excel Macros and Word VBA development is relatively simple as both ship a built-in Macro recorder that allows you to capture a specific sequence of actions and re-use them later on.

Outlook and PowerPoint do not offer the macro recorder so you’ll need to develop some VBA chops if you want to automate tasks in your presentation or a mail message.

Adding the Developer menu to the Ribbon

The best way to access the VBA developer environment, is the so-called Developer tab. The tab is turned off by default in Microsoft Office, but you can learn how to set it up in a breeze.

Follow along as we setup the macro VBA development in Excel, Word, Outlook and other Office apps:

  1. First off, open your Office application. In this walk through i have focused on Excel, but the process for the other apps is quite similar.
  2. Place your mouse on the Ribbon and hit your mouse right click menu.
  3. Then go ahead and hit Customize the Ribbon.


  1. Next, go ahead and check the Developer entry in the right hand side column, as shown below.
  2. You might at this point choose to show or hide the different sections of the Developer tab (Code, Addins, XML etc’). Leave those checked (visible) if you are a relatively newcomer into Macro development.

Developer_tab_Excel Options

  1. Once done hit OK.
  2. Your development environment is pretty much ready. Time to get started with your coding 🙂


Showing  the Developer tab in MAC OSX

Microsoft Office for MAC OSX has ships tools for Macro recording and development.

If you are on MAC and would like to go ahead and access your development environment, proceed as following:

  1. Open the relevant Microsoft Office application, be it Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
  2. In the upper command bar, hit Tools
  3. Then go ahead and select Macros
  4. Now you’ll have couple options:
    1. Hit Macros… in order to access your presentation/workbook or document macros.
    2. Hit Development, to access the VBA editor
Show development environment on MAC
Show development environment on MAC

Note: Currently (Office 365), Outlook for macOS still doesn’t support Macro development.

1 thought on “How to display the developer tab in Excel, Outlook and Word 2019 / 365?”

  1. Word for Mac 2019 does not allow a series of actions in a Macro. i.e.: after setting Font and Font size, and trying to record any remaining commands, such as, changing “digest” to “disgust” in a table, deleting columns … and whatever else. Checking the Macro using Edit, it shows the macro stopped recording after the Font Text. Please address this with a repair to Word for Mac 2019.

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