Microsoft Blocks “Internet” Macros

In an effort to protect its Office users from dangerous macros, Microsoft has blocked the running of legitimate code written to enhance its products. This “blocking” occurs when the file’s origin is the Internet, but even files from an organization’s Intranet can be affected. The reasoning is that Office (or Windows, or both) considers some downloaded files as coming from Untrusted Sources.

Macros have added much value to spreadsheets, slide presentations, and text documents, and are common in many workplace documents. Most of these macros have been written using Microsoft-supported languages such as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) and VBScript. While most of this code is safe, Microsoft has decided to protect its users by blocking the running of Untrusted macros by default. All macro-enabled files are affected.

When opening a macro-enabled Office document from an “untrusted” source (usually downloaded from the “cloud” or the internet) you may see the following message just beneath the Ribbon:

SECURITY RISK Microsoft has blocked macros from running because the source of this file is untrusted.

Figure 1 – “Security Risk” warning message under the Excel ribbon

Another message about file blocking that can also appear below the Office Ribbon is shown in Figure 2. This is a standard Protected View warning. Both warn of the same thing.

Figure 2 – Alternate warning message…

If you want to more fully understand the rationalizations of, and remedies for this issue read this Microsoft webpage.

If you just want to open a file skip ahead to the step-by-step fix…


If the Microsoft explanation was too much to read, or not easy to understand, read on. I have a step-by-step procedure to “Unblock” files affected by this protection scheme.

And, for a more simple Microsoft Support “how to” webpage without too much description of the issue, read this page.

How is this Possible?

My thinking, and maybe yours, is how can this file be blocked? After all my Trust Center Macro Setting is set to enable all documents to open ( figure 3.) The “wide open” setting has the warning “not recommended; potentially dangerous code can run“. My opinion is that this current option is sufficient for all users and the blocking scheme is not needed.

Figure 3 – Excel’s Trust Center Macro Settings

The Fix

If you read the Microsoft webpage regarding this issue, you already know the following solution. If it was too much to read, then this is all you need to do to open the document with all of the macros enabled:

  • From the Windows File Explorer select the document you want to unblock.
  • Right-click on the selection to open the context menu for this file.
  • Select Properties (or use the ALT-Enter shortcut keys after selecting the file)
  • Then at the bottom of the Properties dialog box check the Unblock setting (figure 4.)
Figure 4 – Unblock a Macro-enabled worksheet by using the file’s Properties Dialog

Now the document can be opened without a problem. This is a one-time fix for this file only, so there should never be a problem with this particular file.

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