How to Use Solver Function in Excel: A Comprehensive Guide

September 7, 2023 1.8K views

Excel's Solver is a potent tool for tackling complex problems, yet its intricacies often pose user challenges. This guideline addresses these concerns and provides a comprehensive guide on using Solver effectively. By equipping readers with the necessary knowledge and skills, we empower them to harness Solver's full potential, streamlining their problem-solving endeavors.


If you are looking for ways to improve your Excel skills and become a more efficient user, then learning how to use the solver function in Excel to find a value is an excellent place to start. This comprehensive guide will show you everything you need to know about using the solver function in Microsoft Excel: setting up the problem that needs solving, customizing constraints, running scenarios, and more. By following this easy-to-understand tutorial, mastering this useful tool can be a breeze!

What is Solver in Excel?

Solver is a powerful tool in Microsoft Excel that helps solve complex problems with varying variables and constraints. It is an add-in program that you can use for what-if analysis, where you can find an optimal value (maximum or minimum) for a formula in one cell, called the objective cell, subject to limits on the values of other formula cells on a worksheet.

Further, Solver in Excel aims to help users optimize their decision-making by finding the best solution based on constraints. This tool can be used in various scenarios, such as financial planning, resource allocation, and project management.

  • Excel Solver Online

While Solver is a built-in function in Microsoft Excel, there are also online versions of Solver available. These online Solver tools can help users solve complex problems without requiring them to install Excel software.

One example of an online Solver is the OpenSolver add-in for Google Sheets. This add-in offers similar features to Solver and can help users optimize their decision-making processes more efficiently.

  • How to Add Solver to Excel on Mac?

Adding Solver to Excel on Mac is similar to adding it to a PC. The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Click on the Excel menu and select Preferences.

Step 2: Click on Add-Ins and choose Solver Add-in.

Step 3: Check the box next to Solver and click on OK.

How to Use Solver Function in Excel: A Detailed Guide with Examples and Images

Excel is a powerful tool for data analysis and problem-solving. The Solver function in Excel is one such feature that can solve complex problems with variables and constraints. By using Solver, you can find the optimal value for a formula in one cell based on constraints or limits on other formula cells in a worksheet.

In this guideline, we will provide a detailed step-by-step guide on how to use Solver in Excel and show you how it can help you streamline your problem-solving process.

Step 1: Enable Solver Add-in

Before you can use the Solver function in Excel, you need to enable it. By default, Solver add-in is not enabled in Excel, so you must first enable this add-in. For Excel on Windows, go to File > Options > Add-ins > Manage Excel Add-ins > Solver Add-in > OK. For Excel on Mac, go to Tools > Add-ins > Solver Add-in > OK.

Step 2: Define the Problem

The next step is to define the problem that needs solving. You need to identify the objective cell, the variable cells, and the constraint cells. The objective cell is the cell for which you want to find the optimal value. The variable cells are the cells that Solver will change to achieve the objective. The constraint cells are the cells that have limits or restrictions on their values.

Step 3: Set Up Solver

Once you have defined the problem, it's time to set up Solver. Go to Data > Solver. In the Solver Parameters dialog box, set the objective cell, the type of optimization (Max or Min), and the variable cells. Then, set the constraints by adding them under the "Subject to the Constraints" section.

Step 4: Run Solver

After you have set up Solver, click on Solve. Solver will then use various algorithms and mathematical models to find the optimal value for the objective cell. If Solver finds a solution, it will show you the optimal value in the objective cell and the values for the variable cells that resulted in the optimal value. If Solver cannot find a solution, it will show you an error message.

Step 5: Analyze Solver Results

Once Solver has found a solution, it's time to analyze the results. You should examine the variable cells to see if they are within the constraints and ensure the solution makes sense based on the problem. You can also use Solver's Scenario Manager to run multiple scenarios and compare the results.

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How to Insert Solver in Excel: Step-by-Step Guide

Excel's Solver function is a powerful tool that aids in solving complex problems with variables and constraints. However, before you can harness the full potential of the Solver function, you must first install the Solver add-in in Excel. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Step 1: Open Excel

To begin, open Microsoft Excel by clicking on the Excel icon on your desktop or by typing "Excel" in the search bar on your taskbar.

Step 2: Access the Add-Ins Menu

Once Excel is open, go to the File tab and click on Options. It will open the Excel Options window. In the Excel Options window, click on Add-Ins.

Step 3: Select the Solver Add-in

In the Manage box, select Excel Add-ins and click on Go. In the Add-Ins available box, scroll down and select Solver Add-in. If Solver Add-in is not listed, click on Browse and locate the add-in. Once selected, click OK.

Step 4: Confirm the Installation

After completing Step 3, a message will appear, "Solver Add-in is not currently installed on your computer. Would you like to install it now?" Click Yes to install the Solver add-in.

Step 5: Locate the Solver Command

After installation, the Solver command is available in the Analysis group on the Data tab. Click on the Data tab and locate the Analysis group, where the Solver command is available.

Step 6: Using Solver

With the Solver add-in installed and the Solver command visible, you can now use Solver to solve complex problems. Start by selecting the cell that contains the formula you want to optimize and establish the constraints (if any). Then, go to the Data tab, locate the Solver command, and click on it. Set the optimization parameters in the Solver Parameters window and run Solver to find the optimal value.

Bonus Tip: Excel Solver Online

In addition to the Solver add-in in Microsoft Excel, you can also utilize Excel Solver Online. Excel Solver Online is available in Microsoft Office 365 and can be used in a browser, allowing you to use Solver even if you do not have Microsoft Office installed on your computer.

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1. What is the difference between Goal Seek and Solver?

Goal Seek, and Solver are different Excel tools used for what-if analysis. Goal Seek is simpler than Solver and is used to find the input value needed in a formula to reach a specific result. On the other hand, Solver is more complex and is used to find an optimal value for a formula subject to constraints placed on other variables.

2. How do I use Goal Seek in Excel?

Using Goal Seek in Excel is simple and involves the following steps:

1. Open the Excel worksheet and select the cell that contains the formula you want to change.

2. Go to the Data tab and click the What-If Analysis dropdown menu.

3. Choose the Goal Seek option from the menu.

4. In the Goal Seek dialog box, enter the value you want the formula to yield in the "To value" box.

5. Select the cell containing the input value you want to change in the "By changing cell" box.

6. Click OK, and Excel will calculate the necessary input value to achieve the desired result.


This comprehensive guide provides everything one needs to know about using the Solver function in Microsoft Excel. By customizing constraints and running scenarios, users can tackle complex problems efficiently. The article explains how Solver works with decision variables, adjusting their values to meet constraints and achieve desired results. Step-by-step instructions on loading and using the Solver Add-in are included.

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