How to Install the Excel Labs Add-In

May 26, 2023

What is Excel Labs?

Excel Labs is a new Excel add-in built to house experimental Excel features. Right now it contains just two features - the Advanced Formula Environment and the Generative AI Function. The Advanced Formula Environment is a side pane to view your custom LAMBDA formulas and make it easier to reuse them across workbooks. The Generative AI function is a partnership with OpenAI that gives you access to OpenAI's Chat GPT-4 large language model (LLM) right in Excel. It's a handy tool to have while you wait for access to Microsoft's full CoPilot in 365 tool.

Installing Excel Labs the Easy Way

Follow these step by step instructions and you'll have Excel Labs installed in just a few minutes.

  1. Open Excel on your computer.
  2. Go to Insert > Get Add Ins. This brings up the Add Ins store pop up.
  3. Search for Excel labs in the search box in the upper left.
  4. Click the green Add button next to Excel Labs.
  5. Now you'll be able to see the Excel Labs icon in the far right of your Home ribbon.

Don't see your new add in in the Home ribbon? Try switching your active user account in the upper right by the Comments and Share buttons. If that doesn't work try installing Excel Labs directly from the Microsoft website using this link.

Excel Labs is compatible with both the Desktop version of Excel (Windows and Mac) and Excel online. You do need Excel 2016 or later for this to work.

Note - if you already have the Advanced Formula Environment it will no longer be available in your Formulas ribbon. You'll have to access it via Excel Labs.

Using the Generative AI Function

To use the LABS.GENERATIVEAI() function (wow that's a long one, thank goodness for auto complete of function names in Excel), you'll need a free OpenAI account. You can sign up for one on their website here. After that you'll need to go to create a secret API key in OpenAI here and paste it into the Excel Labs pane. This links Excel to your ChatGPT account and enables the function in Excel.

With that done, it's time to create your first query. Here are some examples, remember to wrap your query in quotes.


=LABS.GENERATIVEAI("how do I write a LAMDBA function in Excel?")

=LABS.GENERATIVEAI("Perform a sentiment analysis on this email from my boss" & A1)

And here's a sample query from Microsoft that's really interesting, along with it's output:

=TEXTSPLIT(LABS.GENERATIVEAI("Return a table of helpful Excel functions, with 3 columns: name, category, and an example", 0, 1000), "|", UNICHAR(10), TRUE, , "")

Combining the new LABS.GENERATIVEAI function with Dynamic Array formulas yields some powerful results

Lastly, here are two things to consider when using the new LABS.GENERATIVEAI function:

  1. The answer it gives back will sound correct but may not actually match reality. Be sure to fact check anything and everything.
  2. Anything you type in will be shared to OpenAI. Try to keep privacy concerns in mind.

Happy experimenting in Excel!