Google Sheets Macros

Google Sheets lets you record macros that duplicate a specific series of UI interactions that you define. Once you've recorded a macro, you can link it to a keyboard shortcut in the form Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Number. You can use that shortcut to quickly execute the exact macro steps again, typically in a different place or on different data. You can also activate the macro from the Google Sheets Tools > Macros menu.

When you record a macro, Google Sheets automatically creates an Apps Script function (the macro function) that replicates the macro steps. The macro function is added to an Apps Script project bound to the sheet, in a file titled macros.gs. In the event that there is already a project file bound to the sheet with that name, the macro function is appended to it. Google Sheets also automatically updates the script project manifest, recording the name and keyboard shortcut assigned to the macro.

Since every recorded macro is defined entirely within Apps Script, you can edit them directly within the Apps Script editor. You can even write macros from scratch in Apps Script, or take functions you've already written and turn them into macros.

Creating macros in Apps Script

You can take functions written in Apps Script and use them as macro functions. The easiest way to do this is by importing an existing function from the Google Sheets editor.

Alternatively, you can create macros within the Apps Script editor by following these steps:

  1. In the Google Sheets UI, select Tools > Script editor to open the script bound to the sheet in the Apps Script editor.
  2. Write the macro function. Macro functions should take no arguments and return no values.
  3. Edit your script manifest to create the macro and link it to the macro function. Assign it a unique keyboard shortcut and name.
  4. Save the script project. The macro is then available for use in the sheet.
  5. Test the macro function in the sheet to verify that functions as intended.

Editing macros

You can edit macros attached to a sheet by doing the following:

  1. In the Google Sheets UI, select Tools > Macros > Manage macros.
  2. Find the macro you want to edit and select more_vert > Edit macro. This opens the Apps Script editor to the project file containing the macro function.
  3. Edit the macro function to change the macro behavior.
  4. Save the script project. The macro is then available for use in the sheet.
  5. Test the macro function in the sheet to verify that functions as intended.

Importing functions as macros

If there is already a script bound to a sheet, you can import a function in the script as a new macro and then assign it a keyboard shortcut. You can do this by editing the manifest file and adding another element to the sheets.macros[] property.

Alternatively, follow these steps to import a function as a macro from the Sheets UI:

  1. In the Google Sheets UI, select Tools > Macros > Import.
  2. Select a function form the list presented and then click Add function.
  3. Select clear to close the dialog.
  4. Select Tools > Macros > Manage macros.
  5. Locate the function you just imported in the list. Assign a unique keyboard shortcut to the macro. You can also change the macro name here; the name defaults to the name of the function.
  6. Click Update to save the macro configuration.

Manifest structure for macros

The following manifest file example snippet shows the section of a manifest that defines Google Sheets macros. The sheets section of the manifest defines the name and keyboard shortcut assigned to the macro and the name of the macro function.

  {
    ...
    "sheets": {
      "macros": [{
        "menuName": "QuickRowSum",
        "functionName": "calculateRowSum",
        "defaultShortcut": "Ctrl+Alt+Shift+1"
      }, {
        "menuName": "Headerfy",
        "functionName": "updateToHeaderStyle",
        "defaultShortcut": "Ctrl+Alt+Shift+2"
      }]
    }
  }

The table below describes the manifest structure of fields under the sheets section. Manifests defining macros must have all the components marked as Required.

Property name Value Description
sheets object Required. Defines manifest values specific to Sheets.
sheets.macros[] list Required. A list of defined macros and their associated properties.
sheets.macros[].menuName string Required. The name of the macro as it appears in the Google Sheets UI.
sheets.macros[].functionName string Required. The name of the Apps Script function that executes the macro. By default this matches the menuName for functions automatically created, but this is not a requirement.
sheets.macros[].defaultShortcut object Defines the keyboard shortcut that executes the macro. This must be of the form Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Number, where Number is a single-digit. Macros without shortcuts can only be executed from the Tools > Macros menu.

Best practices

When creating or managing macros in Apps Script, it is recommended that you adhere to the following guidelines.

  1. Macros are more performant when they are light-weight. Where possible, limit the number of actions a macro takes.
  2. Macros are best suited for rote operations that need to be repeated frequently with little or no configuation. For other operations, consider using a custom menu item instead.
  3. Always remember that macro keyboard shortcuts must be unique, and a given sheet can only have ten macros with shortcuts at any one time. Any additional macros can only be executed from the Tools > Macros menu.
  4. Macros that make changes to a single cell can be applied to a range of cells by first selecting the full range and then activating the marco. This means it is often unnecessary to create macros that duplicate the same operation across a predefined range of cells.

Things you can't do

There are a few restrictions on what you can do with macros:

Use macros outside bound scripts

Macros are defined in scripts bound to specific Google Sheets. Marco definitions are ignored if defined in a standalone script or web app.

Define macros in Sheets add-ons

You cannot distribute macro definintions using a Sheets add-on. Any macro definitions in a Sheets add-on project are ignored by users of that add-on.

Distribute macros in script libraries

You cannot distribute macro definitions using Apps Script libraries.

Use macros outside of Google Sheets

Macros are only a feature in Google Sheets, and do not exist for Google Docs, Forms, or Slides.

Send feedback about...

Apps Script
Apps Script