VBA Wait & Sleep Functions – Pause / Delay VBA Code

Written by

Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Steve Rynearson

Last updated on December 5, 2022

This tutorial will demonstrate how to pause / delay code using the Wait and Sleep functions in VBA.

When we create large VBA programs that perform a lot of calculations, or perhaps even call external program to run, we may require our VBA code to stop running for a specific length of time while the external process is taking place.   VBA has a few methods available in order to achieve this.

Use of Application.Wait Method

If we need to pause our macro’s running for some time or until a specified time has been reached before executing the next step, we can use the Application.Wait method.  This could be useful, for example, if we have automated a login process to a website and need to wait some seconds until the page is loaded before our macro continues running.

Wait 1 Second

Including this line below into your macro, its running will be paused for approximately 1 second:

Application.Wait (Now + TimeValue("0:00:01"))

Wait Until

In some cases you will need to wait until a specific time. With this line below your macro will not proceed before 9am:

Application.Wait "09:00:00"

Please note that the Application.Wait does not accept delays of less than 1 second.

Use of Sleep Method

If you need a more precise way of pausing your macro, you can use the Sleep method.

Sleep is a Windows API function, that is, it is not part of VBA. It can be accessed by using a special declaration statement.

If you are using the 64-bit version of Microsoft Office, you can insert the following statement into a new module or at the beginning of the module (not directly in the subroutine) you want to use the Sleep function in:

Public Declare PtrSafe Sub Sleep Lib "kernel32" (ByVal Milliseconds As LongPtr)

With 32-bit version use this line:

Public Declare Sub Sleep Lib "kernel32" (ByVal Milliseconds As LongPtr)

After declaring the Sleep function, you have access to it in you subroutines like this:

Sleep 10000

With this line above your macro will be paused for 10,000 milliseconds, i.e., 10 seconds.

Using a Loop with Do Events

The big disadvantage of using the Wait and Sleep methods is that the user cannot do anything in Excel while waiting for the macro to continue.  A user could think that Excel has stopped responding and while the user can then use Ctl+Break to interrupt the macro, this defeats the purpose of putting a pause in the macro to begin with.

To overcome this problem, we can use a loop with a method called DoEvents.

Public Sub Test()
    Dim i As Long
    For i = 1 To 20000
        Range(“A1”).Value = i
    Next i
End Sub

Now, while Excel is running the macro above, the user can continue to interact with Excel – we can change tabs or format cells for example – basically, the macro is continuing to run but the Excel screen is not frozen.   We could use a similar loop to create a timer function in Excel and incorporate the DoEvents method in that to unfreeze the screen while the timer is running.

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