Excel difference between Form Controls vs ActiveX Controls

This Excel tutorial explains difference between Form Controls vs ActiveX Controls for Excel worksheet.

Excel difference between Form Controls vs ActiveX Controls

There are two different kinds of Controls in Excel spreadsheet, both are very similar but we need to know the difference between them. UserForm also has its Control but it is not discussed in this topic.

In Excel 2013, to insert a Control in Excel spreadsheet, navigate to Developer > Insert , there are two groups of Controls available – Form Controls and ActiveX Controls.


If you cannot find the Developer tab, navigate to File > Options > Customize Ribbon > check the Developer box.

Form Controls vs ActiveX Controls – Appearance

As seen in the picture above, both Form Controls and ActiveX Controls have common Controls in different order, but the appearance is slightly different.


Form Controls vs ActiveX Controls – Extensions

ActiveX Controls has a button called “More Controls”, when you click on it, you will see 100+ other available Controls.


ActiveX Controls are loaded from DLLs, you can extend the functionality using “Register Custom” under More Controls.

While ActiveX is a product of Microsoft,  it cannot be run in Mac computer. If you want to run on Mac, make sure you use Form Controls which do not contain any VBA.

Form Controls vs ActiveX Controls – Event

Now insert a Button from Form Controls and a Button from ActiveX Controls.

When you drag a Button from Form Controls, there is a pop up message asking you to assign a Macro to the Button. You need to create a Macro in Module in advance for selection.


When you drag a Button from ActiveX Controls, you don’t need to assign a Macro. Instead, you can double click on the button and you will enter into VBE where a button click event is created under the current worksheet. The below example shows the Click Event of a command button, you can also select other Events available.


Other than Button, all other Form Controls refer to the Macro that you create in Module, while ActiveX Controls have their own Properties and Event.

Form Controls vs ActiveX Controls – Formatting

ActiveX Controls have Properties setting but Form Controls don’t.

In Design Mode, right click on an ActiveX Control and select “Properties”. Below is the Properties of a Button.


You can also right click on an ActiveX control and then select Format Control for basic formatting.


To format a Form Control, you can only select Format Control. Although ActiveX Controls do not have Properties setting, some of the settings are present in Format Control instead.


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