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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:

Notes:

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"
	Me.ComboBox1.DropDown
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.
    Sourav Singha · 18 days ago
    Sir How to use this in excel userform combobox....? plz help
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 11 days ago
      Hi Sourav Singha,
      Can't use it in a userform combobox. Sorry for the inconvenience.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Josh · 2 months ago
    Is there a way to make it call up a hyperlink? My email is joshuarobertdaniels@gmail.com
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 11 days ago
      Hi Josh,
      Sorry can;t help you with that yet.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Vrezh · 4 months 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.
      crystal · 2 months ago
      Hi Vrezh,
      Sorry this kind of problem can't be solved yet. Thank you for your comment.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Steve Olah · 6 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 · 10 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 · 1 years 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 · 1 years 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?
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    dan · 1 years ago
    The automatic dropdown list is not working. Everything else is working. Do you know where my snag might lie?
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      dan · 1 years ago
      I figured it my be with the last step. I put the VBA code in my personal.xlsb worksheet but looks like the code needs to be on the sheet of the respective workbook. hazah
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    michael cianci · 1 years ago
    I got this to work but for some reason excel crashes if i attempt to use the arrows to select things from the drop down. has anyone had this issue? is it even supposed to be possible?
    thanks
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Dear Michael,
      The problem you mentioned does not appear in my case. Which Office version do you use?
      • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
        yogi · 1 years ago
        Dear Crystal,

        I got the same problem as michael does, excel crashes every time i use down arrow in the drop box, i got excel 2010 on my laptop, which version do you use?
        • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
          crystal · 1 years ago
          Hi yogi,
          The method has been successfully tested in Office 2010, 2013 as well as 2016. No idea for this problem. Sorry about that.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    alluxxx · 1 years ago
    Is there a way to prioritize the location of a letter in a word? I used this method, but when I type in "A," for example, I get terms with "A" anywhere in the word. I would prefer if it started showing all the terms that begin with "A". Is this possible?
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Hi,
      Sorry for reply so late. If you want to search values in drop-down list that begin with a certain character, please change the formula in column C to
      =--ISNUMBER(IFERROR(SEARCH($A$12,MID(A3,1,1),1),"")).
      Thank you for your comment.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    KATHLEEN · 1 years ago
    I may have misunderstood how this function is supposed to work, but i can only get the combo box search to populate one cell, A12 (using the example from the tutorial). If i click into A13 to populate the next cell with a different value from the drop down, it just replaces what i have in A12 and does not populate A13. I need this search to apply to any cell in column A from A12 down. Have i done something incorrect or does this combo box search only allow a single cell in the workbook to be populated with the result? Will be grateful for any help with this.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Kathleen · 1 years ago
    I may have misunderstood how this function is supposed to work, but i can only get the combo box search to populate one cell, A12 (using the example from the tutorial). If i click into A13 to populate the next cell with a different value from the drop down, it just replaces what i have in A12 and does not populate A13. I need this search to apply to any cell in column A from A12 down. Have i done something incorrect or does this combo box search only allow a single cell in the workbook to be populated with the result? Will be grateful for any help with this.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Good Day,
      This combo box search only allow a single cell in the workbook to be populated with the result.
      I'll try to find another method to solve your problem.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Ben Johnston · 1 years ago
    I feel dumb, but immediately after posting, I realized I probably hadn't added the 1 to DropDownList1 in the VBA, and sure enough that was the problem! Thanks anyway!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Ben Johnston · 1 years ago
    Hello, thanks for the tutorial! I'm having an issue where every time I type in the combo box, "DropDownList1" disappears from the "ListFillRange" property. So long as I don't type in the box, if I retype "DropDownList1" in the property, the box does show suggestions. I have looked everything over and could not find any errors. Is this a common problem, and is there a way to fix it? Thank you for your time!
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Dear Ben,
      I am also comfusing about the disappearing of the "DripDownList" from the "ListFillRange" property
      But it does not influence the finally rsult of making the drop-down list seachable.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    dave · 1 years ago
    is there a way to have the search box put the top result if left blank? in the case of this example it would automatically put china if it was left blank
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Dear dave,
      Would you please provide a screenshot of your spreadsheet showing what you are exactly trying to do?
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    Al B · 2 years ago
    I've had an ongoing issue with all documents I've used this method on. A shadow of the drop-down box reappears underneath it each time I click into another cell within the spreadsheet and begin typing. It's beyond just a nuisance because when the shadow drops down, it prevents use of any additional searchable drop-down boxes. Please help!!! This is affecting multiple documents we use throughout our organization.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Good day,
      Sorry for replying so late. The problem you methoded does not appear in my case.Would be nice if you could provide your Office verson. Thank you!
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    Gunawan Budianto · 2 years ago
    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;

    Why A12? thank's
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Hi,
      This cell is optionally selected which can help to finish the whole operation. You can choose any one as you need.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Jelbin · 2 years ago
    Hi As in forum,
    I need to have this searchable dropdown for columns 2 to 500. Please let me know how i can as the second combo replicates the same in first which i dont want
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Dear Jelbin,
      Can't handle this. Sorry about that.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Havocknox · 2 years ago
    Thank you for this breakdown to make the combo box searchable. I have even gotten three of them working on the same page. My problem I have run into is when I start typing in the search information and the info narrows down, if I hit the down arrow key to select the item in the list Excel crashes on me. Has anyone had this happen, and if so have you found a way to solve this issue.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      crystal · 1 years ago
      Hi,
      The problemm you mentioned does not appear in my case. Would you please provide your Office version?
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Heric · 2 years ago
    Hi,

    your guide is most helpful, but i still encounter one last problem.
    I am trying to do a simple invoice, and do the drop down for my customer name cell, must my customer listing be in the same worksheet as my invoice worksheet? Is is possible i have two worksheet, "invoice" & "customer name", and do the drop down list for customer name at "invoice" worksheet?

    Thank you
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Jaydie · 2 years ago
    Thank you, I used above and it works perfectly....

    Until you have two combo boxes in one sheet.. When you want to type in the second combo box it highlights the text in the first combo box and does not want to search
    If I leave the first box blank, the second box works fine

    Please help
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    NAJMA · 2 years ago
    plz help me
    i cannt enter formula in formula bar
    when i paste this formula & paste this =--ISNUMBER(IFERROR(SEARCH($A$12,A2,1),""))
    give me error.type :(
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Ashok · 2 years ago
    HI, How to do the same searchable program for contnious rwo , i tried and it is working one row only , i want to do the same for below row also for different name
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Ahmed Shahin · 2 years ago
    Hi Herb,

    What if i created a drop down list from another work sheet? the formula " =--ISNUMBER(IFERROR(SEARCH($A$2,H2,1),""))" has wrong reference and when i edit it it doesn't allow to put the right cell. what do you suggest? thank you
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    Yesenia · 2 years ago
    I, like Cristina above, would also like to know how to make multiple combo boxes for one sheet. I tried but when I begin typing in the second combobox two things happen: 1. no drop down list appears, and 2. the simple act of typing in combobox2 activates the selection from my original combobox1 and highlights it in the drop down from combobox1. I checked to make sure all of my coding says combobox2 for combobox2 etc. for the other boxes but there is a disconnect that I can't figure out.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Jaydie · 2 years ago
      I have the exact same problem, have you managed a solution yet??
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    FAUZI · 3 years ago
    Thank You.. Very helpfull.. God Bless You
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Maarten · 3 years ago
    Hi,

    I can't fill in 'DropDownList' in the 'ListFillRange'.... What's the catch? I don't understand the solution of imad.
    Thanks.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Herb123987 · 3 years ago
      [quote name="Maarten"]Hi,

      I can't fill in 'DropDownList' in the 'ListFillRange'.... What's the catch? I don't understand the solution of imad.
      Thanks.[/quote]

      I posted this answer above for IMAD and saw this posting down here for MAARTEN so I figured I'd post this for him too.

      I have seen this "how to make an autofill / auto suggest DDL / combo box" on a few different sites and they ALL want you to put "something" in the ListFillRange Properties field [b]BEFORE[/b] they have you [b]create a named range[/b] by clicking Formula > Define Name ....... and the [b]ListFillRange will always go blank in the Properties window[/b] UNTIL you define the name (Formula > Define Name)

      THAT is why i think IMAD, above and MAARTEN below (here) was having the problem - not 100% sure though.
      • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
        Maarten · 3 years ago
        Hi there,

        Thanks a lot for your solution. I gave up already, but I'll try again.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Andone · 3 years ago
      try to put this=--ISNUMBER(IFERROR(SEARCH($A$12,$A$2,1),"")) instead =--ISNUMBER(IFERROR(SEARCH($A$12,A2,1),"")) in step 6
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    imad · 3 years ago
    So I Finally got it to work! I attached the linkedcell to a vlookup and got all the information pulling into a row. I was wondering if there could be any extension on the vba to actually filter the table as we type?
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    imad · 3 years ago
    Mine isn't working. My dropdownlist label was not working in the "properties" for the combobox. Everytime I entered it, it disappeared. So I used "test" instead. I adjusted the macro with the word test instead of dropdowmlist. Let me know if there is something else I can do? Search not working.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      Herb123987 · 3 years ago
      [quote name="imad"]Mine isn't working. My dropdownlist label was not working in the "properties" for the combobox. Everytime I entered it, it disappeared. So I used "test" instead. I adjusted the macro with the word test instead of dropdowmlist. Let me know if there is something else I can do? Search not working.[/quote]

      I have seen this "how to make an autofill / auto suggest DDL / combo box" on a few different sites and they ALL want you to put "something" in the ListFillRange field BEFORE they have you create a name range by clicking Formula > Define Name and the ListFillRange will always go blank in the Properties window UNTIL you define the name (Formula > Define Name)

      THAT is why i think IMAD, above and MAARTEN below was having the problem - not 100% sure though.
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    MarkC · 3 years ago
    For some reason when I click a selection from the drop down list after typing a few characters the drop down main value becomes blank... any idea why this would happen and how to get it to stop?

    I have a command button that I want to click to then put the selection into the next available cell in a given range, but again the value blanks out when I click on it.
    • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
      imad · 3 years ago
      I have the exact same problem. I did everything right but the dropdownlist label just goes blank everytime I press enter. If you figured it out, please do share!
  • To post as a guest, your comment is unpublished.
    Cristina · 4 years ago
    Excellent post. Could you please explain how do you copy the same drop down list to multiple cells. I want to create an expense report and I want to be able to select a different expense on each row from the same drop down list. Thank you.
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    Prastuti · 4 years ago
    very nicely explained. Loved it. Thank you !!