How to Count Colored Cells in Excel – A Step by Step Tutorial + Video

Watch Video – How to Count Colored Cells in Excel

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a function that could count colored cells in Excel?

Sadly, there isn’t any inbuilt function to do this.


It can easily be done.

How to Count Colored Cells in Excel

In this tutorial, I will show you three ways to count colored cells in Excel (with and without VBA):

  1. Using Filter and SUBTOTAL function
  2. Using GET.CELL function
  3. Using a Custom Function created using VBA

#1 Count Colored Cells Using Filter and SUBTOTAL

To count colored cells in Excel, you need to use the following two steps:

  • Filter colored cells
  • Use the SUBTOTAL function to count colored cells that are visible (after filtering).

Suppose you have a dataset as shown below:

Count Colored Cells in Excel - Dataset

There are two background colors used in this data set (green and orange).

Here are the steps count colored cells in Excel:

  1. In any cell below the data set, use the following formula: =SUBTOTAL(102,E1:E20)
    Using Subtotal function to Count Colored Cells in Excel
  2. Select the headers.
  3. Go to Data –> Sort and Filter –> Filter. This will apply a filter to all the headers.
  4. Click on any of the filter drop-downs.
  5. Go to ‘Filter by Color’ and select the color. In the above dataset, since there are two colors used for highlighting the cells, the filter shows two colors to filter these cells.Using Filter to Count Colored Cells in Excel

As soon as you filter the cells, you will notice that the value in the SUBTOTAL function changes and returns only the number of cells that are visible after filtering.Count Cells with a background color - Filtered Cell Count Subtotal

How does this work?

The SUBTOTAL function uses 102 as the first argument, which is used to count visible cells (hidden rows are not counted) in the specified range.

If the data if not filtered it returns 19, but if it is filtered, then it only returns the count of the visible cells.

Try it Yourself.. Download the Example File

#2 Count Colored Cells Using GET.CELL Function

GET.CELL is a Macro4 function that has been kept due to compatibility reasons.

It does not work if used as regular functions in the worksheet.

However, it works in Excel named ranges.

See Also: Know more about GET.CELL function.

Here are the three steps to use GET.CELL to count colored cells in Excel:

  • Create a Named Range using GET.CELL function
  • Use the Named Range to get color code in a column
  • Using the Color Number to Count the number of Colored Cells (by color)

Let’s deep dive and see what to do in each of the three mentioned steps.

Creating a Named Range

  • Go to Formulas –> Define Name.Count Colored Cells in Excel - Defined Name
  • In the New Name dialog box, enter:
    • Name: GetColor
    • Scope: Workbook
    • Refers to: =GET.CELL(38,Sheet1!$A2)
      In the above formula, I have used Sheet1!$A2 as the second argument. You need to use the reference of the column where you have the cells with the background color. Count Colored Cells in Excel - GetColor

Getting the Color Code for Each Cell

In the cell adjacent to the data, use the formula =GetColor

This formula would return 0 if there is NO background color in a cell and would return a specific number if there is a background color.

This number is specific to a color, so all the cells with the same background color get the same number.Count Colored Cells in Excel - Color Code

Count Colored Cells using the Color Code

If you follow the above process, you would have a column with numbers corresponding to the background color in it.

To get the count of a specific color:

  • Somewhere below the dataset, give the same background color to a cell that you want to count. Make sure you are doing this in the same column that you used in creating the named range. For example, I used Column A, and hence I will use the cells in column ‘A’ only.
  • In the adjacent cell, use the following formula:


This formula will give you the count of all the cells with the specified background color.Count Colored Cells in Excel - Color Count without VBA

How Does It Work?

The COUNTIF function uses the named range (GetColor) as the criteria. The named range in the formula refers to the adjacent cell on the left (in column A) and returns the color code for that cell. Hence, this color code number is the criteria.

The COUNTIF function uses the range ($F$2:$F$18) which holds the color code numbers of all the cells and returns the count based on the criteria number.

Try it Yourself.. Download the Example File

#3 Count Colored Using VBA (by Creating a Custom Function)

In the above two methods, you learned how to count colored cells without using VBA.

But, if you are fine with using VBA, this is the easiest of the three methods.

Using VBA, we would create a custom function, that would work like a COUNTIF function and return the count of cells with the specific background color.

Here is the code:

'Code created by Sumit Bansal from
Function GetColorCount(CountRange As Range, CountColor As Range)
Dim CountColorValue As Integer
Dim TotalCount As Integer
CountColorValue = CountColor.Interior.ColorIndex
Set rCell = CountRange
For Each rCell In CountRange
  If rCell.Interior.ColorIndex = CountColorValue Then
    TotalCount = TotalCount + 1
  End If
Next rCell
GetColorCount = TotalCount
End Function

To create this custom function:

  • With your workbook active, press Alt + F11 (or right click on the worksheet tab and select View Code). This would open the VB Editor.
  • In the left pane, under the workbook in which you are working, right-click on any of the worksheets and select Insert –> Module. This would insert a new module. Copy and paste the code in the module code window.How to Count Colored Cells in Excel - Insert Module
  • Double click on the module name (by default the name of the module in Module1) and paste the code in the code window.Custom function VBA code to Count Colored Cells in Excel
  • Close the VB Editor.
  • That’s it! You now have a custom function in the worksheet called GetColorCount.

To use this function, simply use it as any regular excel function.

Syntax: =GetColorCount(CountRange, CountColor)

  • CountRange: the range in which you want to count the cells with the specified background color.
  • CountColor: the color for which you want to count the cells.

To use this formula, use the same background color (that you want to count) in a cell and use the formula. CountColor argument would be the same cell where you are entering the formula (as shown below):

Count Colored Cells in Excel - Custom Formula

Note: Since there is a code in the workbook, save it with a .xls or .xlsm extension.

Try it Yourself.. Download the Example File

Do you know any other way to count colored cells in Excel?

If yes, do share it with me by leaving a comment.

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  • Nico Do


    I started using your Count Cells Based on Background Color in Excel #3 using VBA. This wors very good. Thanks for it.
    But now I have a problem using the same function by checking cells where the background color is set by Conditional Formatting. I am checking for dates older than today() and mark these cells in red background; works well using conditional formatting but the count doesn’t work for these cells.
    thank you for any idea or hint

    • Raymond

      Hi Nico,

      Do you use a formula in your conditional formatting (CF)?
      If you do, it returns TRUE and you are coloring the cells that meet that condition. This means that if you put the CF formula into a COUNTIF formula, you can count the cells that meet the CF conditions!


      • Nico Do

        Hi Raymond,

        No I’m not using a formula. I use a standard rule type: Cell Value “less than or equal to” =$A$1
        In A+ I only update the day =today().

        • Raymond


          I did a test and I realised I needed a help column to do the job.

          Say that range A2:A10 has your values where you apply the CF to.
          Formula in help column B:
          in B2 put ‘=OR(A2<$A$1,A2=$A$1)', copy down and you will get a couple of TRUEs or FALSEs.

          The count formula anywhere can then be: =COUNTIF(B2:B10,TRUE).

          Or you can just use an IF formula in the help column, giving you 1 or 0 back. Then a simple SUM somewhere and there you are.

          I must be do-able without the help column but I don't know how (yet)!


          • Nico Do

            Hi Raymond,

            A help column isn’t very usefull and would need many additional help columns, so I searched and searched.
            On (a german Excel & VBA site) I found an example using .Font.ColorIndex . With this information I found .Interior.ColorIndex and my day was made 🙂

            Next step: searching for the color indexes on

            and it seems to work – refreshing manually after changes – but it works:
            ‘Function ColorRed(Area As Range)
            ‘ColorRed = 0
            ‘For Each cell In Area
            ‘If cell.Interior.ColorIndex = 3 Then
            ‘ColorRed = ColorRed + cell.Count
            ‘End If
            ‘End Function

          • Raymond

            Hi Nico,

            Thanks for the update and also for you providing the resources that led to the solution you found!

            An UDF (User Defined Function) is harmless in your case because you are using it in only one cell to get the count. So that’s great.
            In complex workbooks, where formulas must be in several rows, UDF’s are not recommanded unless no other choice because they make the workbook slow.
            And as they say, there is always another way, a simple, faster and stronger way…

            I found a non-vba solution: an array formula.

            Put the following formula adjusted to your needs where you want your count.
            In this example, I assume the IF statement is the same as in your conditional format that gives the cells a red color when TRUE. The formula says:
            for each cell in range A2:A10, if the cell value is equal or less than the value of A1, give 1, otherwise give 0. Then give a sum of all the individual results.
            I’ve used 1 IF with an OR but it didn’t work so it became 2 IF’s.

            Instead of just pressing ENTER, press CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER to make it an array formula, which you can recognize by the { } that Excel automatically puts around it:

            So after CTRL+SHIFT+ENTER, you will see:

            No more manual refresh!

            More about the topic:


          • cezi

            i am not a vbe user but this explanation was clear enough to take the dive;
            so i tried solution number 3 and it works!
            however, how can i make the sheet update the numbers after i changed the color of a cell? at this moment i need to go to this cell en hit enter;
            there must be a ‘trick’ to do this on my imac!

          • Raymond

            Hi Cezi,

            The only workaround I could came up with involves 2 steps:
            [1] Put ‘Application.Volatile True’ at the beginning of the the function code
            [2] Put the following code in the worksheet event area (it assumes that you want an update if you select any cell in range [A1:A10]; please adjust accordingly):

            Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
            ‘Application.StatusBar = False
            On Error Resume Next ‘To avoid error if the selection isn’t in [A1:A10]
            If Target.Address = Intersect(Target, Range(“A1:A10”)).Address Then
            ‘Application.StatusBar = “Calculated”
            End If
            End Sub


          • Kara

            Hello Raymond, I am having the same issue but am not exactly sure how to follow the workaround you posted.

            [1] Should I paste ‘Application.Volatile True’ after the following row?

            ‘Function GetColorCount(CountRange As Range, CountColor As Range)’

            [2] Where should I put the code you have entered? I’m afraid I don’t know what the “worksheet event area” is or where I can find it.

            Thank you for your patience and a great guide!


          • Raymond

            Hello Kara,

            [1] Correct.
            [2] While in Excel, press ‘ALT+F11’ and that will bring you in the development environment.
            Then, follow the instructions I’ve put here (screenshot):



          • Amy


            Your code for the workaround however disables copying and pasting? Do you know how to fix this?


          • Raymond

            Hi Amy,

            Sorry about that. Yes, there is a fix. The first line of code should be:
            If Application.CutCopyMode Then Exit Sub

            So, the final worksheet ‘SelectionChange’ event should look like this:
            Private Sub Worksheet_SelectionChange(ByVal Target As Range)
            ‘If we are copying, do nothing and exit
            If Application.CutCopyMode Then Exit Sub

            On Error Resume Next ‘To avoid error if the selection isn’t in [A1:A10]
            If Target.Address = Intersect(Target, Range(“A1:A10”)).Address Then
            End If
            End Sub
            [END CODE]


  • audeser

    If declared strictly and with names more appealing (IMO ;)). Thank you for the code and the idea behind

    Public Function GetColorCount(ByRef Target As Excel.Range, ByRef rgColor As Excel.Range) As Long
    Dim rCell As Excel.Range
    Dim Color As Long
    Dim lgCounter As Long

    Color = rgColor.Interior.ColorIndex
    For Each rCell In Target
    If rCell.Interior.ColorIndex = Color Then lgCounter = lgCounter + 1
    Next rCell
    GetColorCount = lgCounter
    End Function

  • Azz

    I liked the VBA option, works like a charm. However if my data range is non-continuous , for example, instead of A1:A10, I need to count the cell color in A1, A4, A9, How should I modify the formula? Thanks.

    • Dal

      Hi Azz,
      Enclose your non-continuous range within brackets inside the function, (x, y, z, a:c), so for your example, you would use:

      =GetColorCount( ( A1, A4, A9 ), 50 )

      50 = Green box color index.

  • Ryan

    How can you accomplish the same thing except counting cells in a row versus column (as outlined here)? For example, I want to know how many of each color (Red, Yellow, Green, and no color) are in row 2 (range – A2:I2).
    Side note/issue: The Subtotal function seems to only count cells that have something in them. I would like to count cells that are just a color without any text in the cell. Is that possible?
    Thanks for your help.

  • mart

    Hi, please assist. if the cell is in cf it doesn’t count. i am using also the standard cf for date occuring.

    • Hey Mart.. Yes this doesn’t work when conditional formatting is in play. IF you want to count based on CF rules, you can use the same rule you have used to apply conditional formatting and count the total values. For example, if you use CF to highlight cells that contain “Yes”, then use a COUNTIF function to count all these cells.

  • Godmot Vlogs Sagsinthecity Hello, I am trouble getting the VBE working for counting coloured cells, I have tried all the suggestions but still not getting it. The closest I got to was that it appeared “0” which did not calculate the coloured cell. That I guess is an improvement from #NAME?” or #VALUE?” messages. Please help!!

  • Emilian

    When i press ‘enter’ with you’r download exel i get #NAME? why? PS ; I am new in VBA

  • Aamir Naqshbandi

    Can you please explain what is 38 mentioned in the name manager formula? What does it relate to?

  • Fiona Graham

    can you use both GetColorCount and Sumbycolor VBA in the same worksheet.