The Difference Between Active X Command Buttons & Form Buttons

Updated April 17, 2017

Microsoft Excel features two types of controls: Form controls and ActiveX controls. ActiveX controls are also referred to as ActiveX commands. Both Form controls and ActiveX controls allow users to add buttons and other features to Microsoft Excel documents. There are several differences between the two types of controls. Three types of Form control buttons and four types of ActiveX command buttons are available.

Form Controls

The original controls for Microsoft Excel are called Form controls. These controls, which are compatible with some earlier versions of the software, do not use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code. Form controls can run macros, but cannot be used on UserForms, Webpages or for controlling events. The major advantages of these controls are their simplicity and compatibility. However, Form controls suffer a major disadvantage due to their limited use.

ActiveX Controls

ActiveX controls are often used in conjunction with VBA code, but the code is not required for worksheet forms. Like Form controls, ActiveX controls can be used on worksheets. However, they can also be used on UserForms and to control events. ActiveX controls can run macros as well, but only through event control. The major advantages of these controls are their flexibility and customisation capacity. The major disadvantage of these controls is their complexity.

Types of Control Buttons

There are three types of Form control buttons: push buttons, option buttons and spin buttons. ActiveX also has these button types, as well as one additional button type: the toggle button. A standard button is called a push button. When a push button is clicked, it runs a macro that performs an action. An option button, also called a radio button, gives the user one choice from a limited set of options. A spin button allows for the increase or decrease of value. A spin button features an up-and-down arrow and usually allows the direct entry of a value in addition to incremental change. A toggle button allows the user to alternate a setting or mode between enabled and disabled.

ActiveX Controls vs. Form Controls

The biggest difference between ActiveX buttons and Form buttons is where these buttons can be used. Form buttons cannot be used on UserForms or Webpages but ActiveX buttons can. Another difference is that ActiveX buttons can use VBA code and Form Buttons do not use VBA code. ActiveX controls also feature one additional button type: the toggle button. Regardless of button type, ActiveX buttons can be customised to a greater degree than Form buttons. However, form buttons are easier to use.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Lindsey Mason is a graduate of the University of Phoenix where she obtained an associate degree in information technology with a focus on programming. She works with many programming languages including Java, C++ and VBA. Mason has written many video-game and technical articles. She is an avid gamer and specializes in RPG video games.