The xlwings add-in is the preferred way to be able to use the Run main button, RunPython or UDFs. Note that you don’t need an add-in if you just want to manipulate Excel from Python via xlwings.


The ribbon of the add-in is compatible with Excel >= 2007 on Windows and >= 2016 on Mac. On Mac, all UDF related functionality is not available.


The add-in is password protected with the password xlwings. For debugging or to add new extensions, you need to unprotect it.

Run main

New in version 0.16.0.

The Run main button is the easiest to run your Python code: It runs a function called main in a Python module that has the same name as your workbook. This allows you to save your workbook as xlsx without enabling macros. The xlwings quickstart command will create a workbook that will automatically work with the Run button.


To install the add-in, it’s easiest to use the command line client: xlwings addin install. Technically, this copies the add-in from Python’s installation directory to Excel’s XLSTART folder. If you encounter issues, then you can also download the add-in (xlwings.xlam) from the GitHub Release page (make sure you download the same version as the version of the Python package). Once downloaded, you can install the add-in by going to Developer > Excel Add-in > Browse. If you don’t see Developer as tab in your ribbon, make sure to activate the tab first under File > Options > Customize Ribbon (Mac: Cmd + , > Ribbon & Toolbar).

Then, to use RunPython or UDFs in a workbook, you need to set a reference to xlwings in the VBA editor, see screenshot (Windows: Tools > References..., Mac: it’s on the lower left corner of the VBA editor). Note that when you create a workbook via xlwings quickstart, the reference is already set.



If you use Anaconda or Miniconda, you will need to set your Conda Base and Conda Env settings, as you will otherwise get errors when using NumPy etc. See next section.

Global Settings

While the defaults will often work out-of-the box, you can change the global settings directly in the add-in:

  • Interpreter: This is the path to the Python interpreter. This works also with virtual or conda envs on Mac. If you use conda envs on Windows, then use Conda Base and Conda Env below instead. Examples: "C:\Python35\pythonw.exe" or "/usr/local/bin/python3.5". An empty field defaults to pythonw that expects the interpreter to be set in the PATH on Windows or .bash_profile on Mac.
  • PYTHONPATH: If the source file of your code is not found, add the path here.
  • Conda Base: If you are on Windows and use Anaconda or Miniconda, then type here the path to your installation, e.g. C:\Users\Username\Miniconda3 or %USERPROFILE%\Anaconda. NOTE that you need at least conda 4.6! You also need to set Conda Env, see next point.
  • Conda Env: If you are on Windows and use Anaconda or Miniconda, type here the name of your conda env, e.g. base for the base installation or myenv for a conda env with the name myenv. Note that this requires you to either leave the Interpreter blank or set it to one of python or pythonw.
  • UDF Modules: Names of Python modules (without .py extension) from which the UDFs are being imported. Separate multiple modules by “;”. Example: UDF_MODULES = "common_udfs;myproject" The default imports a file in the same directory as the Excel spreadsheet with the same name but ending in .py.
  • Debug UDFs: Check this box if you want to run the xlwings COM server manually for debugging, see Debugging.
  • RunPython: Use UDF Server: Uses the same COM Server for RunPython as for UDFs. This will be faster, as the interpreter doesn’t shut down after each call.
  • Restart UDF Server: This shuts down the UDF Server/Python interpreter. It’ll be restarted upon the next function call.


If you use Conda Base and Conda Env with UDFs, you currently can’t hide the command prompt that pops up. You can still control if the output is printed to the command prompt or not though by setting the Interpreter to python or pythonw, respectively.

Global Config: Ribbon/Config File

The settings in the xlwings Ribbon are stored in a config file that can also be manipulated externally. The location is

  • Windows: .xlwings\xlwings.conf in your user folder
  • macOS: ~/Library/Containers/

The format is as follows (keys are uppercase):


Workbook Directory Config: Config file

The global settings of the Ribbon/Config file can be overridden for one or more workbooks by creating a xlwings.conf file in the workbook’s directory.

Workbook Config: xlwings.conf Sheet

Workbook specific settings will override global (Ribbon) and workbook directory config files: Workbook specific settings are set by listing the config key/value pairs in a sheet with the name xlwings.conf. When you create a new project with xlwings quickstart, it’ll already have such a sheet but you need to rename it to xlwings.conf to make it active.


Alternative: Standalone VBA module

Sometimes it might be useful to run xlwings code without having to install an add-in first. To do so, you need to use the standalone option when creating a new project: xlwings quickstart myproject --standalone.

This will add the content of the add-in as a single VBA module so you don’t need to set a reference to the add-in anymore. It will still read in the settings from your xlwings.conf if you don’t override them by using a sheet with the name xlwings.conf.