How to find and list all links (external references) in Excel?

In Excel, you refer to the contents of cells in another workbook by creating an external reference. But when you want to list all links of a workbook in Excel, it seems hard to find out and list all external references (links). The following tricky way will help you find out and list all links in workbook quickly.

Find and list all links with Find command

Find and list all links with VB macro

Find and list all links with Kutools for Excel


arrow blue right bubble Find and list all links with Find command


Because external links contains bracket [ sign, we can find out the external links if we can get all bracket signs in the whole workbook.

Step1: Click Home > Find & Select > Find to open the Find and Replace dialog box. You can also open the Find and Replace dialog box with pressing Ctrl + F keys.

Step2: In the Find What: box, enter the left part of bracket sign "[".

doc-find-links1

Step3: Click Options, in the Within drop down list, choose Workbook. And then click Find All button. Then it lists all external references in the Find and Replace dialog box immediately. See the following screenshot:

doc-find-links2

The left part of bracket sign can find out the external links in the whole workbook. If you want to find out all kinds of links, including the internal links and external links, you can enter the exclamation sign "!" in the Find what: box.


arrow blue right bubble Find and list all links with VB macro

The following VBA macro can help us list all linked source workbooks in a new worksheet of current workbook.

Step1: Hold down the ALT + F11 keys, and it opens the Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications window.

Step2: Click Insert > Module, and paste the following macro in the Module Window.

VBA: List all links in Excel.

Sub ListLinks()
'Updateby20140529
Dim wb As Workbook
Set wb = Application.ActiveWorkbook
If Not IsEmpty(wb.LinkSources(xlExcelLinks)) Then
    wb.Sheets.Add
    xIndex = 1
    For Each link In wb.LinkSources(xlExcelLinks)
        Application.ActiveSheet.Cells(xIndex, 1).Value = link
        xIndex = xIndex + 1
    Next link
End If
End Sub

Step3: Press the F5 key to run this macro. Then it creates a new worksheet and list all linked source workbooks' names and saving paths in it at once. See screenshot:

doc-find-links3


arrow blue right bubble Find and list all links with Kutools for Excel

With Kutools for Excel’s Find and Break broken Links, you can find all the external links of the active worksheet, at the same time, you can break the specific links as you need.

Kutools for Excel: with more than 120 handy Excel add-ins, free to try with no limitation in 30 days. Get it Now.

If you have installed Kutools for Excel, please do as this:

Step1: Active the worksheet that you want to find the links, and click Kutools > Link > Find and Break broken Links, see screenshot:

doc list links 01

Step2: in the Find and Break broken Links dialog box, click Filter drop down list to choose All links, and all links in the active worksheet are listed, you can view the links status as well, OK stands for the link is valid, Error means the link is broken.

doc list links 02

Note:

1. If the View cell option is checked, when you click on the link in the list. It will find and navigate to the specific cell which contains the link in the worksheet.

2. And if you want to break a link, you can select the link from the list, then click Break link.

If you want to know more about this feature, please click Find and Break broken Links.


arrow blue right bubble Find and list all links with Kutools for Excel

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Comments  

Permalink 0 M Cooper
After running the VBA List all Links Macro, one link came up."J:\Document s and Settings\My Documents\Consu lting\APRTZ.xls ". This link is to a file on the hard drive of the original computer where the file was first saved. I can't seem to delete this link, it wants me to save the file as a *.xlsm file. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Michael
2014-01-21 13:02 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 BenGman
Try just copy/paste the value that is in the cell. The link is useless, but the data is still needed.
2014-01-31 17:40 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 Leslie Dunn
Thank you! I used the Find command with the workbook option, which was great because my file has lots of tabs. Perfect!
2014-02-25 16:45 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +13 Joniru
After lots of trying and failing, I found the reference in the cell formatting rules!! :P
(the place where you are able to make a cell change colour based on the content of another cell)
2014-02-28 14:18 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 abrassil
Jonru your tip helped me out a lot!!
2016-04-26 07:57 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 MIKEF
Saviour! Thank goodness I found this page otherwise I'd have never got to the bottom of it. Thanks Joniru.
2016-07-05 14:54 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 Sabina
Thank you Joniru! I looked everywhere for that hidden link, including comments... your tip helped me find that link after hours of searching!
2016-09-08 16:37 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Chuck83
JONIRU, YOU ARE A BOSS!

Spent two days on this but could have wasted a lot more time.
Xml trick did not work as excel told me file did not have any xml mappings
Found link to named range in another document.
Thanks Soooooooo Much.
2016-11-10 07:59 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 Kirstie
Running the VBA macro was the only thing that worked for me and without this, I would never have found it! Thank you for solving this for me! :lol:
It has cured my severe frustration!
2014-03-13 10:13 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Daymond Cox
Jonriu - or ANYONE (Urgent Request)
I have KuTools, used that Break Hyperlinks and Find break broken links tools, nothing has helped.
I used the Find function but did not resolve it.
I have a spreadsheet with over 140 tabs of data, roughly 80,000 cells.

Does this mean I need to had check every cell for cell formatting rules? Is there a Macro I can run? I have hyperlinks to temporary files that neither the Find or KuTools tools can "find" or Break. Is this an urgent request.
2014-03-13 23:08 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 ytrewq
Joniru, I could kiss you... This has been driving me nuts for weeks! Never thought to look in the conditional formatting
2014-04-12 17:49 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +4 Scnider
Joniru, you're a genius!
Conditional formatting all along... thank you!!!
2014-05-02 07:26 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Nick
Thanks for the lead! Mine were actually in the Name Manager! Hopefully this post will help some other unfortunate soul.
2017-06-27 21:42 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Dan R
After some searching, I found some links in my data validation sources & some buttons that were assigned to macros. I had to close Excel completely for the link to disappear from the "Edit links" menu.
2014-07-14 21:21 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 STevo
'Find' does not search Data Validation settings, but these can contain invalid links.

Here's another way that works pretty well:
1. Save a copy of your workbook as an XML Spreadsheet;
2. Open the XML Spreadsheet in 'XML Notepad' (Microsoft) or any XML/text editor;
3. Search for part or all of the invalid link (URL). You should see which tab and which cells contain the invalid link and what type of reference it is (Data Validation, Advanced Filter, Named Range etc.)
4. Armed with this you can go back to your original XL file and change/delete those invalid references.

HTH
2014-08-07 03:53 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Charels
Stevo I was able to find the link using this methed however i still have no clue where it is or how to fix it any ideas? (encapsulated the bad link with ***)





This is the template that must be used to estimate all projects.
V
Ch
2012-07-25T20:4 1:12Z
2014-08-20T15:5 3:34Z
15.00


0x0101002FAC285 9101EBD408B4E81 7052597CDA
baacc0fc-fbe2-4 ba9-b022-3c507d 1c4d6b






*** https://sp.vectorform.com/MVP.xlsx ***
Estimator
FTE
Sheet3
Sheet4
FullRA
Lists
Sheet1
2014-08-20 16:21 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 Mike C
Do you use macros? I couldn't find mine using the find function so I came here looking for another solution and found the message above (thanks by the way). However even after I removed external references in my data validation stuff using the XML method, Excel still says I have external links! Very frustrating until I realise that I have buttons that actually link to macros of another spreadsheet. So once I removed those it no longer says I have external links (woohoo)
2014-08-22 06:13 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 green_beer
Quoting STevo:
'Find' does not search Data Validation settings, but these can contain invalid links.

Here's another way that works pretty well:
1. Save a copy of your workbook as an XML Spreadsheet;
2. Open the XML Spreadsheet in 'XML Notepad' (Microsoft) or any XML/text editor;
3. Search for part or all of the invalid link (URL). You should see which tab and which cells contain the invalid link and what type of reference it is (Data Validation, Advanced Filter, Named Range etc.)
4. Armed with this you can go back to your original XL file and change/delete those invalid references.

HTH


Thanks STevo ... This hint saved me a ton of time.
2014-09-15 19:37 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 DaveTom
Well done STevo, your XML method was the only one that worked for me. I opened it in notepad and there it was
2015-01-22 23:44 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink +1 Carmen
Excellent post. I was having an issue finding old links that were not needed and found the exact sheets they were in. I deleted the sheets and problem solved. Thanks!
2015-03-29 18:51 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Sunadh
Thanks !!!! it helped out ... Able to work with ease...
2015-05-13 05:03 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 BeetaSkomb
There is one type of link that none of these solutions will help you find and the Excel help and "Edit Links" dialog are no use either. There are external links in Data Validation and Conditional Formatting which are not contained within cell formulae, so the "Find" dialog cannot be used. Here is a fail proof method of discovering with absolute certainty all external links in a workbook no matter what type of link they are:

1. Save your workbook (always No.1)
2. Save a COPY of the workbook as an XML based format (XML Spreadsheet 2003) - will lose features incompatible with XML (but accept it)
3. CLOSE the now open XML spreadsheet copy
4. Open the newly created XML Spreadsheet using a TEXT editor, like Notepad++ (don't use Windows Notepad.exe)
5. Run a text search in the XML-based copy for the "" or "" tags, and also the "RefersTo=" text, and voila! There is your external reference!
6. The other place to look is in the Named Ranges dialog - you will quickly see of any Named Ranges are pointing to an external file. The above method of searching an XML copy is very useful for finding Data Validation or Conditional Formatting settings which refer to an external file - these are very hard to find manually.
2015-05-19 07:37 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Amy
Hello, does anyone has the vba code to export the results in the find and replace dialog box to another workbook or worksheet?
2015-08-18 20:35 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 RP
@Joniru - To echo @ytrewq and @Scnider, you rock. Would have never thought to look at conditional formatting if I hadn't read your comment. I am finally free if this annoying error.
2015-09-08 14:43 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Joe Straub
The VBA macro above worked beautifully. Thanks a million!
2015-10-10 16:48 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Mach3
All options above didn't help me with getting rid of an external link.
But i found a solution for the elimination of my external link.
Take a also a look at the NameManager (Menu - Formulas). In the column Refers to you will see the location where Names refer to.
2016-06-02 08:56 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Mats Lind
Great, thanks! When those links are found, make sure to swich any direct external references to named references so they will point to the right location even if the layout of the linked cells change, see: http://msexcelandvba.blogspot.se/
2016-06-22 12:07 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Ed
Shazam! This tip is awesome.
2016-08-18 22:13 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Danny Saville
I had an Excel file that when opened displayed a message regarding a missing external link.
No such link could be found and various tools- Kutools, FormulaDesk etc did find nothing.
Finally- I solved the problem by opening the xlsx file as zip+xml and deleting the folder dealing with external links (if you want more details- ask me).
2016-11-22 09:50 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Jim
Simply remove the data validation by selecting the whole sheet and click on new validation rule. It will delete all old validation rules, even if you do not enter a new one.

There can also be links in 'named ranges' and hidden named ranged. Google it to find the solutions.
2017-01-10 10:54 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Marilyn
Is it possible to get a list of all the external links that are connected to one source document. I'm guessing that somewhere in the source document, this information should be available, but I've been unable to find it.
2017-01-19 18:28 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Rob
Worked perfectly. I was constantly getting an "update external links" question, and didn't know that I had any. Using the Find, [, and Options of find in Workbook found all of them! Thanks, Rob
2017-02-04 16:10 Reply Reply with quote Quote
Permalink 0 Wild Bill
"Because external links contains bracket [ sign,"
Sorry, that's not exactly true. MVPs Wyman and Walkenbach even get that wrong (perhaps many others too.)

This is one clear exception
=VLOOKUP(A1,'C:\FOO.XLS'!SomeRangeName,2,FALSE)
2017-04-16 18:15 Reply Reply with quote Quote

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