To get the path to the current workbook without the workbook name, you can use a formula based on the CELL function and the TEXTBEFORE function. In the example shown, the formula in E5 is:


The result is a path without the filename like this: "C:\path\".

Note: TEXTAFTER is only available in Excel 2021 and later. See below for a formula that works in earlier versions of Excel.

Generic formula



In this example, the goal is to get the workbook path without the workbook name. For example, given a workbook called fruits.xlsx saved to:


We want the path only like this:



In a modern version of Excel (Excel 2021 or later) the simplest way to solve this problem is to use the TEXTBEFORE function like this:


TEXTBEFORE is designed to return all text before a given delimiter. Working from the inside out, the CELL function runs first and returns a full path to the workbook and worksheet:


The result is returned to the TEXTBEFORE function which is configured to return all text before the opening square bracket "[":


The final result is the text string "C:\examples\".

Older versions of Excel

In older versions of Excel without the TEXTBEFORE function, we need to use a more complicated formula based on the LEFT function and FIND function:


At a high level, this formula works in 3 steps:

  1. Get the full path and filename with CELL
  2. Locate the opening square bracket ("[")
  3. Extract all text up to the opening square bracket ("[")

Get the path and filename

To get the path and file name, we use the CELL function like this:

CELL("filename",A1) // get path and filename

The info_type argument is "filename" and reference is A1. The cell reference is arbitrary and can be any cell in the worksheet. The result is a full path like this as text:


Note the sheet name (Sheet1) appears at the end, and the workbook name is enclosed in square brackets, [workbook.xlsx].

Locate the opening square bracket

The location of the opening square bracket ("[") is calculated with FIND like this

FIND("]",CELL("filename",A1))-1 // returns 12

The FIND function returns the location of "[" (13) from which 1 is subtracted to get 12. We subtract 1 because we want to remove all text starting with the "[" that precedes the workbook name. Or, to put it the other way, we want to extract all text up to the "[".

Extract path

In the previous step, we located the "]" at character 27, then stepped back to 12. This number is returned directly to the LEFT function as the num_chars argument. The text argument is again provided by the CELL function as described above:


The LEFT function returns the first 12 characters of text as the final result:


The final result is the text string "C:\examples\".

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Dave Bruns

Hi - I'm Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.