Quickstart: Macros, Menus, and Custom Functions

Complete the steps described on this page, and in about five minutes you'll have created a spreadsheet with custom functions, menu items, and automated procedures (similar to macros).

Set it up

  1. Make a copy of the sample spreadsheet Apps Script Quickstart: Macros, menus, and custom functions.
  2. From within your new spreadsheet, select the menu item Tools > Script editor. If you are presented with a welcome screen, click Blank Project.
  3. Delete any code in the script editor and paste in the code below.


 * A custom function that converts meters to miles.
 * @param {Number} meters The distance in meters.
 * @return {Number} The distance in miles.
function metersToMiles(meters) {
  if (typeof meters != 'number') {
    return null;
  return meters / 1000 * 0.621371;

 * A custom function that gets the driving distance between two addresses.
 * @param {String} origin The starting address.
 * @param {String} destination The ending address.
 * @return {Number} The distance in meters.
function drivingDistance(origin, destination) {
  var directions = getDirections_(origin, destination);
  return directions.routes[0].legs[0].distance.value;

 * A special function that runs when the spreadsheet is open, used to add a
 * custom menu to the spreadsheet.
function onOpen() {
  var spreadsheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();
  var menuItems = [
    {name: 'Generate step-by-step...', functionName: 'generateStepByStep_'}
  spreadsheet.addMenu('Directions', menuItems);

 * Creates a new sheet containing step-by-step directions between the two
 * addresses on the "Settings" sheet that the user selected.
function generateStepByStep_() {
  var spreadsheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActive();
  var settingsSheet = spreadsheet.getSheetByName('Settings');

  // Prompt the user for a row number.
  var selectedRow = Browser.inputBox('Generate step-by-step',
      'Please enter the row number of the addresses to use' +
      ' (for example, "2"):',
  if (selectedRow == 'cancel') {
  var rowNumber = Number(selectedRow);
  if (isNaN(rowNumber) || rowNumber < 2 ||
      rowNumber > settingsSheet.getLastRow()) {
        Utilities.formatString('Row "%s" is not valid.', selectedRow),

  // Retrieve the addresses in that row.
  var row = settingsSheet.getRange(rowNumber, 1, 1, 2);
  var rowValues = row.getValues();
  var origin = rowValues[0][0];
  var destination = rowValues[0][1];
  if (!origin || !destination) {
    Browser.msgBox('Error', 'Row does not contain two addresses.',

  // Get the raw directions information.
  var directions = getDirections_(origin, destination);

  // Create a new sheet and append the steps in the directions.
  var sheetName = 'Driving Directions for Row ' + rowNumber;
  var directionsSheet = spreadsheet.getSheetByName(sheetName);
  if (directionsSheet) {
  } else {
    directionsSheet =
        spreadsheet.insertSheet(sheetName, spreadsheet.getNumSheets());
  var sheetTitle = Utilities.formatString('Driving Directions from %s to %s',
      origin, destination);
  var headers = [
    [sheetTitle, '', ''],
    ['Step', 'Distance (Meters)', 'Distance (Miles)']
  var newRows = [];
  for (var i = 0; i < directions.routes[0].legs[0].steps.length; i++) {
    var step = directions.routes[0].legs[0].steps[i];
    // Remove HTML tags from the instructions.
    var instructions = step.html_instructions.replace(/<br>|<div.*?>/g, '\n')
        .replace(/<.*?>/g, '');
  directionsSheet.getRange(1, 1, headers.length, 3).setValues(headers);
  directionsSheet.getRange(headers.length + 1, 1, newRows.length, 2)
  directionsSheet.getRange(headers.length + 1, 3, newRows.length, 1)

  // Format the new sheet.
  directionsSheet.setColumnWidth(1, 500);
  var stepsRange = directionsSheet.getDataRange()
      .offset(2, 0, directionsSheet.getLastRow() - 2);
  setAlternatingRowBackgroundColors_(stepsRange, '#ffffff', '#eeeeee');

 * Sets the background colors for alternating rows within the range.
 * @param {Range} range The range to change the background colors of.
 * @param {string} oddColor The color to apply to odd rows (relative to the
 *     start of the range).
 * @param {string} evenColor The color to apply to even rows (relative to the
 *     start of the range).
function setAlternatingRowBackgroundColors_(range, oddColor, evenColor) {
  var backgrounds = [];
  for (var row = 1; row <= range.getNumRows(); row++) {
    var rowBackgrounds = [];
    for (var column = 1; column <= range.getNumColumns(); column++) {
      if (row % 2 == 0) {
      } else {

 * A shared helper function used to obtain the full set of directions
 * information between two addresses. Uses the Apps Script Maps Service.
 * @param {String} origin The starting address.
 * @param {String} destination The ending address.
 * @return {Object} The directions response object.
function getDirections_(origin, destination) {
  var directionFinder = Maps.newDirectionFinder();
  var directions = directionFinder.getDirections();
  if (directions.routes.length == 0) {
    throw 'Unable to calculate directions between these addresses.';
  return directions;

  1. Select the menu item File > Save. Name your new script and click OK.

Try it out

  1. Switch back to your spreadsheet and reload the page.
  2. Enter the formula =DRIVINGDISTANCE(A2,B2) into cell C2 and press enter. After a moment, the driving distance between the two addresses will be shown in the cell.
  3. Enter the formula =METERSTOMILES(C2) into cell D2 and press enter. After a moment, the equivalent distance in miles will be shown in the cell.
  4. Add additional rows of addresses and copy the formulas in columns C and D to compute the driving distances between various places.
  5. Select the menu item Directions > Generate step-by-step. (The Directions menu is a custom menu that the script added to the spreadsheet. It should have appeared a few seconds after you reloaded the spreadsheet.)
  6. A dialog box will appear and tell you that the script requires authorization. Click Continue. A second dialog box will then request authorization for specific Google services. Read the notice carefully, then click Allow.
  7. Now that the script is authorized, select Directions > Generate step-by-step again. In the dialog that appears, enter the row number of the addresses for which you want to generate directions, then click OK. After a moment, a new sheet will be created with nicely formatted directions.

That's it! With only a small amount of code, you've created custom functions, added a menu item, and automatically generated a new sheet of information.

Learn more

To continue learning about how to extend Google Sheets with Apps Script, take a look at the following resources:

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