How to Use Microsoft Excel Solver – A Comprehensive Guide

Microsoft Excel Solver is a powerful tool that can help you solve complex problems by finding the optimal solution. It’s like having a personal assistant that can crunch numbers and find the best answer to your question. Whether you’re trying to figure out the most cost-effective way to ship products or how to allocate resources in a project, Solver can help. All you need is a basic understanding of Excel and a clear idea of the problem you want to solve.

Step by Step Tutorial: How to Use Microsoft Excel Solver

Before we dive into the steps, let’s briefly talk about what we’re going to achieve. We’ll set up a problem in Excel, define our objective, set constraints, and let Solver find the best solution. Ready? Let’s go!

Step 1: Open Solver

Open Solver from the Data tab in Excel.

Solver is not displayed by default in Excel. If you don’t see it, you may need to enable it from the ‘Add-ins’ options.

Step 2: Set Your Objective

Select the cell with the formula you want to optimize.

This is what Solver will work towards improving, whether it’s maximizing profit, minimizing cost, or achieving a specific value.

Step 3: Define the Variable Cells

Choose the cells that Solver can change to reach the objective.

These are usually the inputs or decision variables of your problem that you’re willing to adjust.

Step 4: Add Constraints

Click ‘Add’ to set constraints for the variable cells.

Constraints are the rules that your solution must follow, like not exceeding a budget or ensuring a minimum production quantity.

Step 5: Solve the Problem

Press the ‘Solve’ button and let Solver do its magic.

Solver will run various calculations to find the optimal solution within your set constraints.

After completing these steps, Solver will present you with a solution. If it finds an optimal solution, it will ask if you want to keep the new values or restore the original ones. If no solution is found, it will let you know that as well.

Tips for Using Microsoft Excel Solver

  • Always start with a clear understanding of the problem you want to solve.
  • Make sure your objective function and constraints are correctly set up in Excel.
  • Use the ‘Evolutionary’ solving method for problems that are not linear.
  • If Solver is taking too long to find a solution, try simplifying the problem or constraints.
  • Remember to save your work before running Solver, just in case.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Microsoft Excel Solver used for?

Solver is used to find the optimal solution for complex problems in Excel, such as resource allocation, budgeting, and scheduling.

Can Solver handle non-linear problems?

Yes, by using the ‘Evolutionary’ solving method, Solver can handle non-linear problems.

Is Solver available in all versions of Excel?

Solver is available in most versions of Excel, but it might need to be enabled from the ‘Add-ins’ menu.

What do I do if Solver can’t find a solution?

Try checking your constraints and objective function for errors, or consider simplifying the problem.

Can Solver handle multiple objectives?

No, Solver is designed to handle one objective at a time. However, you can run Solver multiple times with different objectives.


  1. Open Solver from the Data tab.
  2. Set your objective by selecting the target cell.
  3. Define the variable cells.
  4. Add constraints for the variable cells.
  5. Solve the problem.


In essence, Microsoft Excel Solver is like a Swiss Army knife for problem-solving. It’s an indispensable tool that can take your Excel skills to a whole new level, helping you make data-driven decisions efficiently. With the step-by-step tutorial you’ve just gone through, you should now feel confident in tackling problems that seemed daunting before. Remember, like any tool, practice makes perfect. So, why not challenge yourself with a real-world problem you’ve been wrestling with and let Solver come to the rescue? And if you ever find yourself in a tough spot, just come back to this article for a quick refresher on how to use Microsoft Excel Solver. Happy solving!

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