How to force Microsoft Excel to open files in new window [How-To Guide]

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Often times you may find yourself in a position where you are using two or more Excel spreadsheets at the same time. You can, of course, use Alt + Tab to continually switch between the spreadsheets, or use Microsoft’s build-in secondary window function (you know, how you can minimize spreadsheets within the same window) to place the spreadsheets side by side. However neither of these methods is very attractive if you use multiple monitors or if you like using window-resizer programs like WinSplit Revolution. Rather, a best practice when working with multiple Excel spreadsheets at a time is to open the spreadsheets in separate windows, allowing you to easily tile the windows next to each other using WinSplit Revolution or, if you use multiple monitors, allowing you to place each window in its own monitor.

Unfortunately, the default behavior of Microsoft Excel is to open spreadsheets in the same window. Fortunately, there is a way to force Excel to open spreadsheets in new windows. This guide shows you how to do exactly that.

How to force Microsoft Excel to open files in new window

To force Microsoft Excel to open files in new window, you must do a

registry tweak. This tweak takes less than five minutes, works on any computer (Windows XP, Vista, Win7, etc.) with Microsoft Office 2003 and higher (e.g. Office 2007, 2010, etc.), and is very easy to do; plus I have provided screenshots to help you, so don’t be scared that you have to modify the registry to do this. Take note, however, a) You need administrator access to your computer otherwise you won’t be able to modify the registry and b) You should be very careful when you have the registry editor open — accidental changes could crash your computer.

This tweak works with all Excel files, including files you open yourself and files that programs open via Excel.

To make Excel open spreadsheets in new windows, do the following:

  • Close Excel, if it is open.
  • Press Win + R on your keyboard, type regedit.exe in the Run box that pops up, and hit OK :
  • Once you hit OK the registry editor will open. Navigate to the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/Excel.Sheet.12/shell/Open/command folder:
  • From the HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT/Excel.Sheet.12/shell/Open/command folder right-click on the (Default) registry entry and select Modify… :


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