Use the VBA ShellExecute function to open a URL in the default browser. There are many examples online showing how to open a website in internet explorer, but the VBA ShellExecute function lets you open URLs in your default browser - whether it’s Chrome, Firefox, or some other more exotic browser. Isn’t that great!?

This macro example even has a filter to handle the most common form of the ShellExecute Access Denied error.

VBA Open URL in Default Browser

Option Explicit
Private Declare Function ShellExecute _
                            Lib "shell32.dll" _
                            Alias "ShellExecuteA" ( _
                            ByVal hwnd As Long, _
                            ByVal lpOperation As String, _
                            ByVal lpFile As String, _
                            ByVal lpParameters As String, _
                            ByVal lpDirectory As String, _
                            ByVal nShowCmd As Long) _
                            As Long

Private Sub LaunchWebsite(strUrl As String)
On Error GoTo wellsrLaunchError
    Dim r As Long
    r = ShellExecute(0, "open", strUrl, 0, 0, 1)
    If r = 5 Then 'if access denied, try this alternative
            r = ShellExecute(0, "open", "rundll32.exe", "url.dll,FileProtocolHandler " & strUrl, 0, 1)
    End If
    Exit Sub
MsgBox "Error encountered while trying to launch URL." & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & "Error: " & Err.Number & ", " & Err.Description, vbCritical, "Error Encountered"
End Sub

Like I said, it’s pretty common for ShellExecute to generate an “Access Denied” error for some folk when they try to launch a URL. When that happens, this macro attempts to execute an alternate form of the ShellExecute function.

The error code associated with the access denied error, SE_ERR_ACCESSDENIED, is 5. This macro attempts to explicitly call the rundll32.exe FileProtocolHandler when this error code is encountered so you can seemlessly launch your websites.

Here’s an example of how to call the LaunchWebsite macro to open up my lovely home page:)

Sub URLdemo()
    LaunchWebsite ("")
End Sub

I hope you enjoyed this Code Library macro example! Let’s have a discussion in the comments section!
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About Ryan Wells

Ryan Wells

Ryan Wells is a Nuclear Engineer and professional VBA Developer. He is the lead developer of several VBA applications, including PDF VBA - a leading Excel Add-in for exporting Excel Objects, like charts and tables, to PDFs. Discover more of his popular Excel Add-ins, including Mouse To Macro and CF Shapes, at his dedicated Excel Add-ins page.