How to See When an Excel File Was Created: Explore the Hidden Treasures of File Properties

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Written By Chris

Just a simple "data guy". Changing the world one formula at a time.

Hey friends! I want to talk about file properties with you today. Now, don’t dismiss the power of a well-detailed file. It’s not the snooze fest you think it is. You can learn a lot about the context and timeline of a document by uncovering the file creation date and other stats in the summary section.

Stick with me on this one, and trust that you’ll learn something new here to put to future use.

Finding the File Creation Date

To see when an Excel file was created, you can view its file properties by right-clicking on the file, selecting “Properties,” and then looking under the “Details” or “General” tab.

finding the file creation date in excel

That’s a pretty straightforward way to find the file creation date, isn’t it? But there are other ways to find the file creation date.

For instance, if you already have the Excel file open, you can access the properties panel by clicking the “File” tab and selecting “Info.” You’ll find the creation date you’re looking for on the right side of the panel.

finding creation date with open excel file

Another method, but probably unnecessary for this purpose, is to show the Excel file creation date within the sheet you’re working with. You can use a macro within Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications, or VBA, to do this.

If you aren’t familiar with VBA and macros, VBA is a language that lets you tell Excel what to do. Macros are little programs you can make with VBA to automate tasks and make your work in Excel easier.

While I won’t detail macros today, I will walk you through how to perform this function.

To open VBA within an open Excel file, hit ALT + F11. When VBA launches, you’ll see every Excel file you have available in the lefthand hierarchy.

To run the macro (program), hit “Insert” on the toolbar and select “Module.” This module is an empty field for which your technical code is run. When you run the macro below, it uses the FileSystemObject to get the file information of the current workbook (ThisWorkbook.FullName) and retrieves the DateCreated property. Based on my preference, it then inserts this date into cell E4 of the active worksheet in my desired format.

You can hit F5 or the green run icon on the toolbar to run the macro. Looking back at the Excel file, the creation date has been pulled into the worksheet.

running script in vba

Was that a little overkill? You bet. I wouldn’t expect anyone to go to these lengths to find the date the file was created, but it’s available to you.

Lastly, you can modify the columns in File Explorer and select a new field to show; in this case, you can add the creation date.

To do this, open File Explorer, navigate to your file’s folder and right-click the headers above its contents. From here, you can check whichever properties you want to see. Or choose more for anything not automatically listed.

modify columns in file explorer

Other Useful File Properties

Discovering the date an Excel file was created is a breeze once you’re familiar with the properties section. But what about the other information stored there? What can you view, what can you change, and what does it mean for you?

PropertyDescriptionAdvantages
TitleThe title of the workbookHelps identify the workbook and its purpose
AuthorThe name of the person who created the workbookHelps identify who to contact for questions or issues
KeywordsWords or phrases that describe the workbookHelps with search and organization
CategoriesLabels that group the workbook with similar filesHelps with organization and filtering
CommentsA description or notes about the workbookHelps with understanding the workbooks purpose or contents
StatusThe status of the workbook, such as draft or finalHelps with tracking the workbooks progress
SubjectA brief description of the workbooks contentHelps with understanding the purpose or contents of the workbook
ManagerThe name of the person who manages the workbookHelps with identifying who to contact for questions or issues
CompanyThe name of the company associated with the workbookA brief description of the content of the workbook
Hyperlink BaseThe default location for hyperlinks in the workbookHelps with identifying the workbook’s origin or purpose

Let’s expand on the table above and learn more about some of the big players you could be unfamiliar with. 

File Size

The file size is how big your Excel file is, measured in bytes

You can check an Excel file size by navigating to the properties section of a document’s “File” tab or by right-clicking the unopened file and selecting “properties.” Another easy way to check the file size of a saved document is to open your File Explorer. By default, the size of the file is listed as one of the document descriptors.

Knowing the size of an Excel document is good because if your file is too big, it might take a long time to open or save. You can use this information to decide if you need to delete some data or if you need to save your file in a different format to make it smaller.

Better yet, save any other open files and close them before opening a large Excel file. Too often, I’ve seen sour faces when someone’s open applications crash from a bloated worksheet.

Author Information

The author detail for a file tells you who created the Excel file. It’s good to know this because you know who to contact if you have questions about the file or need to collaborate with someone. 

It’s unfortunately common to work with a shared file with hardcoded values instead of formulas that show the reasoning behind the numbers. You know that old saying, Trust, but verify? 

trust by verify

I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken those words to heart with any data I’ve collaborated on.

You can see who created an Excel file by following the same steps for checking the file size. Open the properties under the “File” tab within a document. If unopened, right-click the file title and select properties, or add the author field within File Explorer.

Last Modified Date

Your Last Modified Date is the date the file was last altered. Whether this was the deletion of several columns or just a simple spelling correction, you’ll know when it was changed.

It’s good to know where this is because if you’re working on a file with others, you can see if someone else has made changes since you last worked on it. You can also keep track of your work and ensure you’re not accidentally updating an old file version.

Checking the modification date is as easy as viewing the document properties as I’ve already laid out. You can also use VBA, but I’ll cover that later.

Or, depending on your edition of Excel and your set permissions, you can find any modifications made by opening the “Review” tab on the ribbon and clicking “Show Changes.”

show changes on review tab

Total Editing Time

This tells you how long you’ve spent working on the Excel file. Knowing the Total Editing Time is handy when you’re billing for your time or need to keep track of how long you’ve been working on a project. 

You can also use this information to see how much time you spend on different parts of the file and to help you manage your time better. However, Total Editing Time is only operational in some versions of Excel. While the property is there, your time may not be tallied.

To check this property, go to the “File” tab, select “Info,” click on “Advanced Properties,” and under the “Statistics” tab, you’ll find Total Editing Time.

total editing time property

Keywords

I love using keywords for my documents! If you have trouble remembering the exact title of an Excel file, you can assign it some keywords to help you search for it later. These keywords are generally something you mentally tie to the file and are easily associated with. 

Although, you should be fine if you read my post on organizing your desktop. Especially the part on a naming convention and folder mapping…

If not, you can search the keywords in your search box and let your computer find them.

To assign some keywords to your file, head back to “Advanced Properties,” where you can enter the keywords under the “Summary” tab.

assigning keywords in excel

Categories

Categories of an Excel file are kind of like keywords. The difference is that keywords are meant to identify a single file. In contrast, categories can be used to group multiple files or folders.

Separating files by categories allows you to find and reorganize misplaced documents for better storage. So when it comes time for your presentation or to wrap up a long project, everything is together in one place.

Creating categories for each file is no different than assigning it a keyword. In fact, if you followed the steps for the keywords above, you should have seen the category field. And one section below that was where you can enter comments.

Comments

Speaking of comments, the comments property for an Excel file is exactly what it sounds like. If you don’t want something lost in the shuffle pertaining to your data, this is where you’d like to store it.

It comes in handy when coauthoring a file with multiple people. You can designate the document’s overall purpose or record an account’s details.

Status

This tells you the status of the Excel file, like whether it’s a draft or a final version. Maybe you’ve finished up your portion of the project, and it’s ready for the next phase. This is an excellent property to use, indicating the file’s natural progression.

Or, if this is an Excel file you alone are responsible for, use the status property to track the completion or projection of your deadlines.

You can change the status field from the “Info” panel under the “File” tab. If you don’t see it, select “Show All Properties” to see more.

show all properties for advanced

Subject

The subject property of an Excel file is similar to a blend of the category and comments fields. I’ve always used the subject property to expand somewhat on the category without going too in-depth. But it’s your file, so use it as you wish.

Manager

You may be the manager and the creator of the file. But if not, this is the place you’d go to see who is heading up the assignment related to this Excel document. If the file properties have been utilized correctly, of course.

Hyperlink Base

Your hyperlink base is the default location for hyperlinks in the Excel file to which all links will lead. Use the hyperlink base to direct all external links to a single location and ensure they work correctly. This makes their management and functionality a simpler task.

To add or change a hyperlink base, click on the “File” tab, select the “Info” pane, and click “Advanced Properties.” Under the “Summary” tab, you can paste the full link path to be followed.

set hyperlink base

Need a Custom Property?

There are still plenty more file properties you can find and use in Excel. But one additional setting I want you to know about before you go is the “Custom” tab.

If you go back to the “Advanced Properties” and select the “Custom” tab, you’ll see a section of empty values that allow you to create a unique property. There are some predefined names that Excel gives you to choose, but you can name it whatever you want by filling out the first entry.

Whether you select a predefined name or choose your own, continue by selecting the appropriate “Type” and entering your property’s “Value.” From there, just hit the “Add” button and then “OK.” Easy Peasy!

create a custom property in excel

Speaking From Experience

Try and get into the habit of using the Excel file properties. It’s the best way to get comfortable and understand their value. Putting everything I just covered into practice has significantly improved my organization, version control, and shared file management skills.

You don’t even have to use all of them. Just adding in two or three of these properties will make your work life more manageable and efficient.

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