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MS Excel: DIR Function (VBA)

Learn how to use the Excel DIR function with syntax and examples.


The Microsoft Excel DIR function returns the first filename that matches the pathname and attributes specified. To retrieve additional filenames that match pathname and attributes, call DIR again with no arguments.


The syntax for the Microsoft Excel DIR function is:

Dir [( path [, attributes ] ) ]

Parameters or Arguments

path is optional. It the path to a file, folder, or directory. If the path is not found, the DIR function will return a zero-length string.

attributes is optional. It is the sum of the file attributes. File attributes can be one or a combination of the following values:

VB Constant Value Explanation
vbNormal 0 Normal (Default)
vbReadOnly 1 Read-only
vbHidden 2 Hidden
vbSystem 4 System file
vbVolume 8 Volume label
vbDirectory 16 Directory or folder
vbAlias 64 File name is an alias


You can use wildcard characters to specify multiple files. The patterns that you can choose from are:

  • * allows you to match any string of any length (including zero length)
  • ? allows you to match on a single character

If you wish to iterate over all files in a directory, use an empty string:

Dir ("")

Applies To

The DIR function can be used in the following versions of Microsoft Excel:

  • Excel 2013, Excel 2011 for Mac, Excel 2010, Excel 2007, Excel 2003, Excel XP, Excel 2000

Type of Excel Function

The DIR function can be used in Microsoft Excel as the following type of function:

  • VBA function (VBA)

Example (as VBA Function)

The DIR function can only be used in VBA code in Microsoft Excel.

Let's look at some Excel DIR function examples and explore how you would use the DIR function in Excel VBA code:

Dir("C:\instructions.doc") would return "instructions.doc"
Dir("C:\in*.doc") would return "instructions.doc"
Dir("C:\instruction?.doc") would return "instructions.doc"

For example:

Dim LResult As String

LResult = Dir("C:\instructions.doc")

In this example, the variable called LResult would now contain the filename of the instructions.doc file.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How can I use the DIR function to test whether a file exists?

Answer: This can be done with a formula that utilizes a combination of the DIR function, IF function, and LEN function.

For example:

If Len(Dir("c:\Instructions.doc")) = 0 Then
   Msgbox "This file does NOT exist."
   Msgbox "This file does exist."
End If

Question: I'm not sure if a particular directory exists already. If it doesn't exist, I'd like to create it using VBA code. How can I do this?

Answer: You can test to see if a directory exists using the VBA code below:

If Len(Dir("c:\TOTN\Excel\Examples", vbDirectory)) = 0 Then
   MkDir "c:\TOTN\Excel\Examples"
End If

In this example, the code would first check to see if the c:\TOTN\Excel\Examples directory exists. If it doesn't exist, the MKDIR statement would create a new directory called Examples under the c:\TOTN\Excel directory.