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How to create a searchable drop down list in Excel?

For a drop down list with numerous values, finding a proper one is not an easy work. Previously we have introduced a method of auto completing drop down list when enter the first letter into the drop down box. Besides the autocomplete function, you can also make the drop down list searchable for enhancing the working efficiency in finding proper values in the drop down list. For making drop down list searchable, please do as below tutorial shows step by step.

Create a searchable drop down list in Excel

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Create a searchable drop down list in Excel

For example, the source data you need for the drop down list is in range A2:A9.

This method requires Combo box instead of data validation drop down list. For creating searchable drop down list, please do as follows.

1. If you cannot find the Developer tab in the ribbon, please enable the Developer tab as follows.

1). In Excel 2010 and 2013, click File > Options. And in the Options dialog box, click Customize Ribbon in the right pane, check the Developer box, then click the OK button. See screenshot:

2). In Outlook 2007, click Office button > Excel Options. In the Excel Options dialog box, click Popular in the right bar, then check the Show Developer tab in the Ribbon box, and finally click the OK button.

2. After showing the Developer tab, please click Developer > Insert > Combo box. See screenshot:

3. Draw the Combo box in the worksheet and right click it. Select Properties from the right-clicking menu.

4. In the Properties dialog box, you need to:

1). Select False in the AutoWordSelect field;

2). Specify a cell in the LinkedCell field. In this case, we enter A12;

3). Select 2-fmMatchEntryNone in the MatchEntry field;

4). Type DropDownList into the ListFillRange field;

5). Close the Properties dialog box. See screenshot:

5. Now close the design mode with clicking Developer > Design Mode.

6. Select a blank cell C2 and then copy and paste formula =--ISNUMBER(IFERROR(SEARCH($A$12,A2,1),"")) into the Formula Bar, and press Enter key. They drag it down to cell C9 to auto fill the selected cells with same formula. See screenshot:


1. The $A$12 is the cell you have specified in the LinkedCell field in step 4;

2. After finishing the above step, you can now test it. Enter a letter C into the drop down box, you will see all cells containing C are filled with number 1.

7. Select the cell D2, put formula =IF(C2=1,COUNTIF($C$2:C2,1),"") into the Formula Bar, and press Enter key. Then drag the Fill Handle in the D2 down to D9 to fill the range D3:D9.

8. Select cell E2, copy and paste formula =IFERROR(INDEX($A$2:$A$9,MATCH(ROWS($D$2:D2),$D$2:$D$9,0)),"") into the Formula Bar and press Enter key. Then drag the Fill Handle in E2 down to E9 to fill the cells. Then you will see the cells are filled as below screenshot shows.

9. Now you need to create a name range. Please click Formula > Define Name.

10. In the New Name dialog box, type DropDownList into Name box, type formula =$E$2:INDEX($E$2:$E$9,MAX($D$2:$D$9),1) into the Refers to box, then click the OK button.

11. Now, enable the design mode by clicking Developer > Design Mode. Then double click the Combo box you created in step 3 to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications window.

12. Copy and paste the below VBA code into the Code editor.

VBA code: make drop down list searchable

Private Sub ComboBox1_GotFocus()
	ComboBox1.ListFillRange = "DropDownList"
End Sub

13. Close the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications window.

From now on, when you start typing in the list box, it will start ambiguous searching and just list the relevant values in the drop down list.

Note: After closing and reopening the worksheet, the VBA code you have created in step 12 is removed automatically. So, you need to save this workbook as Excel Macro-Enabled Workbook format.

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  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Vrezh · 27 days ago
    I have a problem. My list is in Armenian language, and I see ??????-s instead of the letters. how can I fix this problem? Thank you in advance
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Steve Olah · 3 months ago
    How can I use this? I have two problem
    1st I would like use ComboBox1 for a full column, so I have D column, it should see empty.
    When I click into a cell in D column example D7 or D8(etc) I should get a Combo in D7 or D8 etc cell and after select just see the result, not the combo too.

    But how can I add combobox dynamically to D2, D4, D11 etc when click or before.
    I need for I can search with typing too, so simple(not active-x) combo is wrong.

    2nd how set padding? - my combo text when I search is not see whole because itt has padding.

    3th if my source is C column, how drop empty elements from list
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    sigidapurnomo purnomo · 7 months ago
    I had try tutorial drodown list searchable, Some like that,. But i'am can't make searcable from list and Combo Box Search??? How to make VBA Macro Connected in Excel??
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Mubashir · 8 months ago
    I want to make this drop down to work for whole column, so that with multiple entries, I have this search suggestion option available every time. Above option, just shows suggestion for one time. Please help
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Min · 11 months ago
    Hi. I get many helps from your post. However, it doesn't make automatic dropdown if there are mixed language on the list (e.g: first cell is written in English, second cell is written in Korean etc.) Has anyone had solve this problem?