The Developer tab is not displayed on the Ribbon in Office apps by default, but it’s easy to add and gives you access to advanced features like macros, ActiveX controls, and form controls to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio. Here’s how to set it up.

Why Bother with the Developer Tab?

When would you need the Developer tab? You can use the Developer tab to:

  • Create and use macros
  • Issue XML commands
  • Take advantage of ActiveX controls
  • Create Microsoft Office-compatible apps
  • Insert form controls in your spreadsheets
  • Work with Microsoft Visio’s ShapeSheet and create new shapes

Once you add the Developer tab to the Ribbon, it will remain visible unless you clear the check box or reinstall a Microsoft Office program.

How to Add the Developer Tab to the Ribbon

In this example, we’ll demonstrate how to add the Developer tab to the Ribbon in Word. However, the steps are the same in Excel and PowerPoint. Note that you will have to enable the Developer tab in each app separately.

Open the “File” menu.

Click “Options.”

In the Word Options dialog box, click “Customize the Ribbon” on the left side. On the far right list, under “Main Tabs,” enable the “Developer” checkbox and then click “OK.”

The Developer tab is then visible in the Ribbon.

The Developer tab is not context sensitive; it should stay visible no matter what you’re doing in the app.


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Amelia Griggs is a Learning Design and Development specialist, Instructional Designer, Writer, and "Authorpeneuer." She enjoys researching, designing, and developing all kinds of educational materials, problem-solving, helping and training others to understand technology better, writing instructional articles, blogging, and composing fictional short stories.
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