Very hidden sheets in Excel

Svetlana Cheusheva by , updated on

This tutorial clarifies the difference between hidden and very hidden sheets, explains how to make a worksheet very hidden and how to view very hidden sheets in Excel.

Are you exasperated because you cannot find the spreadsheet one of your formulas refers to? The sheet does not appear among other tabs at the bottom of your workbook, nor does it show up in the Unhide dialog box. Where on earth could that sheet be? Simply, it is very hidden.

What is a very hidden worksheet in Excel?

As everyone knows, an Excel sheet can be visible or hidden. As a matter of fact, there are two levels of worksheet hiding: hidden and very hidden.

Unhiding a sheet that was hidden normally is very easy. All you have to do is right-click any visible worksheet, click Unhide, and select the sheet you want to view. Very hidden sheets are a different story. If the workbook contains only very hidden sheets, you won't even be able to open the Unhide dialog box because the Unhide command will be disabled. If the workbook contains both hidden and very hidden sheets, the Unhide dialog will be available, but very hidden sheets won't be listed there.

Technically, how does Excel distinguish between hidden and very hidden worksheets? By the Visible property of the sheet, which can have one of these values:

  • xlSheetVisible (or TRUE) - the sheet is visible
  • xlSheetHidden (or FALSE) - the sheet is hidden
  • xlSheetVeryHidden - the sheet is very hidden

While anyone can toggle between TRUE (visible) and FALSE (hidden) by using Excel's Unhide or Hide commands, the xlVeryHidden value can only be set from within the Visual Basic Editor.

From the user's perspective, what is the difference between hidden and very hidden sheets? It is simply this: a very hidden sheet cannot be made visible via the Excel user interface, the only way to unhide it is with VBA. So, if you want to make some of your worksheets much more difficult to unhide by others (e.g. those containing sensitive information or intermediate formulas), apply this higher level of sheet hiding and make them very hidden.

How to make Excel worksheets very hidden

As already mentioned, the only way to make a sheet very hidden is by using the Visual Basic Editor. Depending on how many sheets you want to hide, you can proceed with one of the following methods.

Make a worksheet very hidden by changing its Visible property

If you want to completely hide just one or two sheets, you can change the Visible property of each sheet manually. Here's how:

  1. Press Alt + F11 or click the Visual Basic button on the Developer tab. This will open the Visual Basic Editor with the Project Explorer window in the top-left panel displaying a tree of all open workbooks and their sheets.
  2. Press F4 or click View > Properties. This will force the Properties window to appear just below Project Explorer (please see the screenshot below). If the Properties window is already there, skip this step :)
  3. In the Project Explorer window, click on the worksheet you want to make very hidden to select it.
  4. In the Properties window, set the Visible property to 2 - xlSheetVeryHidden.

Make an Excel worksheet very hidden

That's it! As soon the Visible property is changed, the corresponding sheet tab will disappear from the bottom of your workbook. Repeat the above steps for other sheets if necessary and close the Visual Basic Editor window when finished.

Make active worksheet very hidden with VBA code

If you have to hide sheets on a regular basis and are annoyed about having to do it manually, you can automate the job with a single line of code. Here's the macro that makes an active worksheet very hidden:

Sub VeryHiddenActiveSheet() ActiveSheet.Visible = xlSheetVeryHidden End Sub

If you are writing a macro for other users, you may want to take care of situations when a workbook contains only one visible sheet. As you may remember, it's not possible to hide absolutely all worksheets in an Excel file (whether you are making them hidden or very hidden), at least one sheet should remain in view. So, to warn your users about this limitation, wrap the above macro in an On Error block like this:

Sub VeryHiddenActiveSheet() On Error GoTo ErrorHandler ActiveSheet.Visible = xlSheetVeryHidden Exit Sub ErrorHandler: MsgBox "A workbook must contain at least one visible worksheet.", vbOKOnly, "Unable to Hide Worksheet" End Sub

Make multiple worksheets very hidden with VBA code

In case you want to set all selected sheets to be very hidden, go through all of the selected sheets in an active workbook (ActiveWindow) one by one and change their Visible property to xlSheetVeryHidden.

Sub VeryHiddenSelectedSheets() Dim wks As Worksheet On Error GoTo ErrorHandler For Each wks In ActiveWindow.SelectedSheets wks.Visible = xlSheetVeryHidden Next Exit Sub ErrorHandler: MsgBox "A workbook must contain at least one visible worksheet.", vbOKOnly, "Unable to Hide Worksheets" End Sub

How to unhide very hidden sheets in Excel

Now that you know how to completely hide sheets in Excel, it's time to talk about how you can view very hidden sheets.

Unhide a very hidden worksheet by changing its Visible property

To be able to see a very hidden worksheet again, you just need to change its Visible property back to xlSheetVisible.

  1. Press Alt + F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor.
  2. In the VBAProject window, select the worksheet you want to unhide.
  3. In the Properties window, set the Visible property to -1 - xlSheetVisible.

Unhiding a very hidden sheet in Excel

Unhide all very hidden sheets with VBA

If you have quite a lot of very hidden sheets and you want to make them all visible again, this macro will work a treat:

Sub UnhideVeryHiddenSheets() Dim wks As Worksheet For Each wks In Worksheets If wks.Visible = xlSheetVeryHidden Then wks.Visible = xlSheetVisible Next End Sub

Note. This macro only unhides very hidden sheets, not worksheets hidden normally. If you want to display absolutely all hidden sheets, then use the below one.

Unhide all hidden and very hidden sheets at a time

To show all hidden sheets in an active workbook in one go, you simply set the Visible property of each sheet to TRUE or xlSheetVisible.

Sub UnhideAllSheets() Dim wks As Worksheet For Each wks In ActiveWorkbook.Worksheets wks.Visible = xlSheetVisible Next wks End Sub

How to use Very Hidden Sheets macros

To insert any of the above macros in your Excel workbook, perform these usual steps:

  1. Open the workbook where you want to hide or unhide sheets.
  2. Press Alt + F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor.
  3. On the left pane, right-click ThisWorkbook and select Insert > Module from the context menu.
  4. Paste the code in the Code window.
  5. Press F5 to run the macro.

To keep the macro, be sure to save your file as an Excel macro-enabled workbook (.xlsm). For the detailed step-by-step instructions, please see How to insert and run VBA code in Excel.

Alternatively, you can download our sample workbook with macros and run the desired macro directly from that workbook.

The sample workbook contains the following macros:

  • VeryHiddenActiveSheet - makes an active sheet very hidden.
  • VeryHiddenSelectedSheets - makes all selected sheets very hidden.
  • UnhideVeryHiddenSheets - unhides all very hidden sheets in an active workbook.
  • UnhideAllSheets - shows all hidden sheets in an active workbook (hidden normally and very hidden).

To run the macros in your Excel, you do the following:

  1. Open the downloaded workbook and enable the macros if prompted.
  2. Open your own workbook.
  3. In your workbook, press Alt + F8, select the macro of interest, and click Run.

For example, here's how you can make all of the selected worksheets very hidden:
A macro to make all of the selected worksheets very hidden

I hope this short tutorial has shed some light on Excel's very hidden sheets. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!

Sample workbook for download

Very Hidden Sheets macros (.xlsm file)

You may also be interested in