How to open Excel files in separate windows

Once we covered how to view Excel workbooks side by side. But there is another, presumably non-standard, task that appears to be very popular - to open your Excel 2016 or 2013 spreadsheets in different windows. I've read all the complaints and solutions on the Office forums, and this post will try to provide the summary of the easiest ways to go, which don't require messing with the registry.

3 solutions that actually work

Solution number one - Excel icon on the taskbar

Open your first table, then use one of the following four ways to open a new instance:

  • Right-click Excel icon on the taskbar and pick "Microsoft Excel 2010" (or 2007):

    Open a new window with Excel using the taskbar icon

    Then navigate to File -> Open and browse for your second table.

  • Press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard and click the program icon on the taskbar. Then open your second table from the new instance.
  • If your mouse has a wheel - click on the Excel taskbar icon with the wheel.
  • If you have Windows 7 or an earlier version, you can also go to Start menu -> All Programs -> Microsoft Office -> Excel, or simply enter Excel in the search line and click on the program icon. This will always open a new instance of the program.

    Start a new Excel instance from the Start menu

Number two - Excel shortcut

  • Open the folder where your Office is installed. The default path for Excel 2010 is C:/Program Files/Microsoft Office/Office 14. If you have Excel 2007, the name of the last folder is Office 12.
  • Find the Excel.exe application and right-click on it
  • Choose the option to Create shortcut and send it to your desktop.

    Create a shortcut to Excel

Whenever you need to open a new instance of Excel - double-click this desktop shortcut.

Number three - Excel option in the Send To menu

If you often have to open two Excel windows simultaneously, see this advanced shortcut solution suggested on the forum. It is actually easier than it may seem, just try it:

  • Follow the steps above for creating Excel shortcut;
  • Open this folder on your computer: C:/Users/UserName/AppData/Roaming/Microsoft/Windows/SendTo
    Note. AppData folder is hidden. To make it visible, go to Folder options in Control Panel, switch to View tab and select to "Show hidden files, folders, or drives".
  • Paste the shortcut into the SendTo folder.

    Add Excel as an option in the Send To menu

Now you can avoid opening your second file from within Excel. You can right-click the file you want in a new instance, and choose to Send To -> Excel.

Other suggestions that may work for you

There are two other solutions that work for many people. One of them is selecting the "Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE)" option in Advanced Excel Options. The other one involves registry changes.

Looking at spreadsheets in two different windows makes many Excel tasks easier. Trying to view the files side by side eats a lot of space and it isn't always the best option. The advantages of two files comprise something more than just the ability to compare or view sheets next to each other. If you corrupt the data in one file, you won't have to re-open all other documents from separate instances.

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Category: Excel Tips

Table of contents

50 responses to "How to open Excel files in separate windows"

  1. Øyvind Øverby says:

    There is a much simpler method:
    All you have to do is to create a shortcut on your desktop that points the Excel executable file and then edit the target box in the shortcut property to read:

    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\EXCEL.EXE" "C:\Folder name\Subfolder name\Name of Excel file.xlsx"

    Remember to type the quote marks (all 4), and replace the path and file name in the example above with the correct path and filename of your choice.

  2. Happy says:

    Thanks for that, it helped me :)

  3. Joe says:

    That worked!!! Thank you for sharing with the community!

  4. Gareth Mitchell says:

    Top Tip! Thanks for this. If you can work out how to get the Classic View back so I can get rid of this useless Ribbon it would be fantastic too.

  5. Missy says:

    OMG!! Thank you. That has been driving me crazy for a week and all the other solutions I found were way to complicated. This was perfect and easy.

  6. Ben says:

    Thank you so much for the tips.

  7. Eva says:

    There's a minimize button under the main minimize button. It sounds absurd, but look under the main minimize button, you'll see another button.
    Click on that, and your excel files will separate.

  8. Karthik says:

    Simple Things are always hard to put together. Great Post !

  9. Lyon says:

    Cannot believe smart people in Microsoft came up such stupid idea

  10. Phil says:

    While this is a good solution for many, my issue revolves around opening excel files from email without saving them to my computer first.

    Suggestions for this issue?

  11. G says:

    Thanks for this! Simple but effective

  12. nal says:

    The "Send To" solution is by far the best and easiest for opening existing Excel Workbooks. Thanks.

  13. Lin says:

    Thank you for the "send to" that was A+ perfect.
    I have been trying to google this the right way to figure this out.
    I don't want to mess with the registry to solve this as in numerous
    posts. Plus the uncheck dde didn't work for me either.
    Thanks again!

  14. ruth says:

    Thanks a million!

  15. Lalitha says:

    The second option I have used and it worked. Very good.. Thanks...

  16. Laura says:

    Any suggestions for being able to do this for an excel email attachment in Outlook?

  17. Lesley says:

    Thank you so much!

  18. Alyssa says:

    This worked, however, now I can't cut and paste between the 2 workbooks! Or move sheets between them. They don't talk. Am I missing something? This will not be a good solution for me on all occasions.

  19. Menka Bihari says:

    Thanks so much for the easy description...I used the first method and was able to open a separate file right away! This is great!

  20. Hewad says:

    Superb!! tip.

  21. Jessica says:

    Thank you! This is the only article I could find that answered my question!

  22. alan says:

    Ok, system info is as follows: win 7, office 2010, registry is NOT hacked with the %1, the Ignore DDE option box in excel is NOT checked. I have 2 computers exactly same as above yet 1 opens all excel files in seperate instances and the other opens them all in the same instance. There must be another option somewhere that tells excel to open all spreadsheets in a different window wthout hacking the registry or ignoring DDE. I cannot find this option anywher. Who knows the answer? Thanks

  23. Dileepa says:

    Excellent. It worked for me very well..

  24. Mandy says:

    OMG. Its working. Thank you so much.

  25. Nate says:

    Fantastic! This just made my week!!!! Thanks!

  26. Jakison Ojha says:

    Thanks. 1st one easy one and worked.

  27. Lauren Fougere says:

    All you need to do is instead of double clicking on the excel document to open.
    open excel by going to start – Microsoft excel – file open - open first document
    Do the same thing open the second document and it will be separate.

  28. Vlad says:

    While this is a solution, it doesn't completely solve my problem. I work with a lot of excel files, from different locations. Opening, closing, comparing... It's not a problem to open a new Excel window, just use the start, but than finding the file to open from the browse each time really gets on my nerves. Going from internal folders, to external hard-drives or network folders.....

    Basically I need a way to open a file directly in a new window.

  29. Angel says:

    Very helpful! Thank you!

  30. Ryan says:

    Opening one Excel file and then right clicking the Excel taskbar icon and clicking "Microsoft Excel" works. Thank you! Such a simple solution but it's not obvious since Excel files don't open the way Word files do.

  31. Greg says:

    I agree with Vlad on this. I have hundreds of excel files, scattered among many folders. I ALWAYS want them to open in separate windows and I don't want to hunt around directories to find them Every Time. Is there no simple command to "always open in new window"??? I've been able to do this for 25 years, before Windows 10 came along. Is Microsoft THAT incredibly stupid??

    • Steve says:

      It would appear so. Like McDonald's forgot that they are "fast food" Microsoft has forgotten the program is called "Windows" for a reason. It's sad they took such a wonderful way the program worked and broke it. But hey that's innovation!! Of course innovation would be fine if someone actually used their brain and checked to see if it really was better or better yet simply left a check box behind so those who wanted to use something and those who didn't could both do what they wanted to do.

  32. Thomas M. says:

    I don't understand this. I've been using Office 2007 since it became available. I have the home and student version which allows five installations... over the years, I've installed this DOZENS of times... from reinstalling Windows, replacing computers, a computer for my father, etc... Dozens of times is not an exaggeration.

    Before this month, EVERY TIME I installed Office H&S 2007, all of my Excel documents were shown in separate windows just like my Word 2007 documents. I didn't know people were putting up with this headache. I had never changed any settings for this at all. But now, I reinstalled my Windows 10 laptop and all the documents are sharing a window. It is a major headache. I can't get any of these suggestions to work.

    Note: every previous time, my documents appeared in their own window no matter how I opened them. For me, that was double clicking on the file for many things but for a couple of others that I used weekly or daily, I had shortcuts. They opened separately. But now, they aren't.

  33. Raman says:

    Thanks a lot for the workaround.

    I could fix the issue with the first one.
    Solution number one - Excel icon on the taskbar
    Open your first table, then use one of the following four ways to open a new instance:

    Right-click Excel icon on the taskbar and pick "Microsoft Excel 2010" (or 2007):
    Open a new window with Excel using the taskbar icon

    Then navigate to File -> Open and browse for your second table.

    Press and hold the Shift key on your keyboard, hold the shit untill the file is open.

    Magic is done :)

    Thanks again :)

  34. Jc says:

    As for my work around. I'll just open a blank excel document and open the file I want to and then directly double click the 2nd excel file. They will be on two diff excel windows now. :)

  35. Warren says:

    It would be easier if it just worked simply and open the way almost every other windows program does. Everything from Microsoft these days tried to be intelligent and "help" you work and then actually does the opposite of what I want. Ideas posted here all work but they are more difficult and complex than how things easily worked years ago.

  36. RAJDEOJHA says:

    the new window application devlopment in point application file as creative window class
    there are application on different in file page in window to window devlopment on very large file in page devlopment

  37. sri says:

    This is awesome

  38. flip says:

    What a hugely irritating page! Survey after survey reports that moving text and images are the most hated thing om websites after autoplaying videos - and atill you're doing it. Or you haven't upgrades this site since 2009....

  39. raj says:

    in excel 2016 I use to select three different files together and press enter - it use to open all three of them in three different windows however while my office downgraded to 2010 this doesn't happen and it opens within same window - if I use your way to open and drag in different excel sessions than my existing connection of data source doesn't populate the latest data output.

    need support on this.

  40. Chuks says:

    This work.

  41. Waseem says:

    If nothing works just try
    Excel > File > Options > Advanced > display >
    check box with
    show all windows in the taskbar


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