Disabling Microsoft Office’s Security Warning Message Bar

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In computer talk, you may hear the word “macros.” These are pieces of computer code that sometimes contain malware that can harm your computer. In Microsoft Office, you can have macros automatically carrying out tasks that you repeatedly do. Even so, sometimes automating macros can threaten the security of your device. Fortunately, Microsoft Office automatically alerts you to macros-containing files.

Macros and Office

Once Microsoft Office discovers one such file, you will see a pop-up box, which is the security warning message bar. It appears below the ribbon in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to tell you that the program has disabled macros. Yet, let’s say that you know the file you want to open is from a safe and reliable source. Then perhaps you don’t need this security warning to pop up. Just hit the “Enable Content” button on the message bar to allow macros into your document.

If you’re feeling really confident and don’t want to deal with the security warning message bar ever, then you can disable it indefinitely. This tutorial outlines how to disable this feature without harming your Microsoft Office programs. Even if you disable this feature, you can still download and use files containing macros. If some of the trusted files that you’re using contain macros, you can establish a “trusted location” to keep those files.

That way, when you open them from the trusted location, you won’t receive a security warning message. We can show you how to set up your trusted file location, but first we need to disable the security warning message box..

Disabling the Security Messages

First, be sure that the “Developer” tab is enabled on the ribbon.

Click it and go to “Code,” then “Macro Security.” A new box will appear, showing you Macro Settings. Select that option that says “Disable all macros without notification.” You can also choose “Disable all macros except digitally signed macros” if you want to run digitally signed files containing macros. Then, if you try to open a file that was not digitally signed by a trusted source, you will receive a notification. All macros signed by a trusted source will not warrant a notification.

Microsoft actually has it’s own definition of what it means to be “digitally signed.” See the image below.

The last option on the settings screen is “Enable all macros.” We recommend not using this option because it leaves your device totally vulnerable to malware from unidentified macros.

Be aware that changing the Macro Settings will only pertain to the Microsoft Office program that you’re currently using.

Alternate Method

Another way to disable the security warning message bar is also possible in the Trust Center dialog box. Just go to “Message Bar” on the left-hand side and under “Message Bar Settings for all Office Applications” click “Never show information about blocked content.” This option overrides the macro settings so that the security warning will not pop up in any Microsoft Office program.

Setting up Trusted Locations for Exceptions

Now, let’s say that you want to edit or view files from colleagues or your boss. These files are from trusted sources, but your colleagues or boss may have includes some macros just to make things easier when opening and editing the file. Simply designate a trusted file location on your computer to keep these types of files. As long as the files are in that folder, they will not warrant a security warning notification. You can use the Trust Center to set up a trusted location (just click on “Trusted Locations” in the left-hand menu.)

You will see that there are already some folders here, but you can add your own if you choose to do so. The folders that are already there are trusted locations that the program uses while active. To add a new location, just hit the “Add new location” option at the bottom of the Trust Center screen.

A new screen will appear, with a default location already chosen for you from your User Locations. If you want, type into the Path edit box your new location or click “Browse” to choose one. Once you choose a new location, it will be put into the Path edit box. If you’d like, you can select “Subfolders of this location are also trusted” so that you can open subfolders from this location without receiving a security warning.

Note: Using a Network Drive as a trusted location is not a good idea because other users can access it without your permission or knowledge. Only use your local hard drive when choosing a trusted location, and always use a secure password.

Be sure to type in a description for the “Description” box so you can easily identify the folder and then hit “OK.”  Now your path, data, and description are saved in the trusted location list. Selecting a trusted location file will display its details at the bottom of the trusted locations menu. Even though we don’t recommend using a network drive location as a trusted location, if you did, you can click “Allow Trusted Locations on my network” if you choose so.

If you want to edit your trusted locations list, you can just click on it in the list and select “Add new location,” “Remove,” or “Modify.” Then hit “OK” to save.

Wrapping Up

Now you know how to protect your Microsoft Office files from nasty malware from macros while still using files containing macros.  It is important to know that regardless of whether you are using a Windows, Macintosh, or Debian/Linux based system, the procedure for the processes is still the same.

 If you want to learn more about macros click here.

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Hendrikx, Martin. "Disabling Microsoft Office’s Security Warning Message Bar." ThoughtCo, Apr. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/disabling-offices-security-warning-bar-4034982. Hendrikx, Martin. (2016, April 23). Disabling Microsoft Office’s Security Warning Message Bar. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/disabling-offices-security-warning-bar-4034982 Hendrikx, Martin. "Disabling Microsoft Office’s Security Warning Message Bar." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/disabling-offices-security-warning-bar-4034982 (accessed November 19, 2017).