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Thread: How to Open Multiple Excel Files in a Single Instance or Multiple Instances

  1. #1
    Join Date
    18th September 2011
    Posts
    1

    How to Open Multiple Excel Files in a Single Instance or Multiple Instances

    This will explain how to fix Windows so that you have the choice of opening multiple Excel workbook files in a single instance, or separately. I wrote these instructions for Windows XP and Excel 2003, because they are the simplest to describe, but the concepts should also apply to later releases.

    The main advantage of being able to run multiple files in one instance is that it enables all workbooks to access macros from any other workbook. This is extremely useful for automating tasks that require exchanging information between workbooks.

    However, if you open multiple files in multiple instances of Excel, then all workbooks run independently. They can then run identical macros in each without interference, or easily be displayed in separate windows on multiple monitors.

    There is one Excel setting that might have been changed manually that could fix this without having to do all of the other steps below, so try this first.

    Step 1 - Excel Preferences
    In Excel, go to:
    Tools, Options, General tab

    The “Ignore other applications” preference is supposed to be able to control your choice of opening Excel in a single instance, or in separate instances.
    Check “Ignore other applications” for separate instances.
    Uncheck “Ignore other applications” for a single instance.

    To test to see if it’s fixed, first close all Excel files, and then open two files via Windows Explorer. If Excel is now working the way you want, then you’re done. Yay!

    If it’s still not working, you should know that it’s unlikely you did something to cause Excel’s behavior to change. Windows Updates are usually the cause of this capability being reset. Here’s how to fix it.

    Step 2 - Repair the Windows Registry
    Go to:
    Start, Run, and enter “excel.exe /unregserver” (without the quotes.)
    This runs instantly and gives no visual feedback.

    Then go to:
    Start, Run, and enter “excel.exe /regserver” (without the quotes.)

    This takes a minute or so to run. There will be a couple of popup windows, and there will be no visible change when it’s done. However, you have just un-registered and re-registered Excel, so your system will be back to a clean starting point.

    Step 3 - Repair the Windows startup commands
    In Windows Explorer go to:
    Tools, Folder Options, File Types tab, select XLS, Advanced, select Open, Edit
    (Tip: To quickly select XLS in the long File Types list, just type XLS.)

    At this point you should be looking at a dialog box titled “Editing action for type: Microsoft Excel Worksheet”. Here is a list of what these fields should be at this point in the process:
    Action: &Open
    Application used to perform action:
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\EXCEL.EXE" /e %1
    Use DDE: checked
    DDE Message: [open("%1")]
    Application: EXCEL
    DDE Application Not Running: blank
    Topic: System

    You will need to repair two fields:
    1. Add quotes to the “%1” argument in the field
    Application used to perform action:
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\EXCEL.EXE" /e %1

    This fixes the problem where Windows can’t find the file because of spaces in the pathname.
    2. Add a comment in the field
    DDE Application Not Running: [do nothing if Excel is not already running]

    Any text can be entered in the square brackets. This prevents Windows from opening Excel twice the first time it’s invoked. When there is a comment in this field, Windows will ONLY run the “DDE Message” action the first time Excel is opened.

    At this point, you should be able to use Step 1 above to set the “Ignore other applications” preference to work the way you want it to.

    One last note: If you run multiple files in one instance, but want to be able to Alt-Tab between them,
    In Excel, go to
    Tools, Options, View tab

    Check the “Windows in Taskbar” preference. This will display each file separately in your Windows Taskbar, and you will be able to quickly Alt-Tab between them.

    Good luck!

    Excel Video Tutorials / Excel Dashboards Reports


  2. #2
    Join Date
    2nd January 2013
    Posts
    1

    Re: How to Open Multiple Excel Files in a Single Instance or Multiple Instances

    Any chance of an update for Windows 7 with Excel 2007 - I find the info below does not work for newer versions.
    My main intererst is how to go back to all open worksheets being in a SINGLE instance so I can copy and paste data between them.
    This function seems to have been removed by a recent update and all I get are multiple instances.
    rweeks

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Deep Green View Post
    This will explain how to fix Windows so that you have the choice of opening multiple Excel workbook files in a single instance, or separately. I wrote these instructions for Windows XP and Excel 2003, because they are the simplest to describe, but the concepts should also apply to later releases.

    The main advantage of being able to run multiple files in one instance is that it enables all workbooks to access macros from any other workbook. This is extremely useful for automating tasks that require exchanging information between workbooks.

    However, if you open multiple files in multiple instances of Excel, then all workbooks run independently. They can then run identical macros in each without interference, or easily be displayed in separate windows on multiple monitors.

    There is one Excel setting that might have been changed manually that could fix this without having to do all of the other steps below, so try this first.

    Step 1 - Excel Preferences
    In Excel, go to:
    Tools, Options, General tab

    The “Ignore other applications” preference is supposed to be able to control your choice of opening Excel in a single instance, or in separate instances.
    Check “Ignore other applications” for separate instances.
    Uncheck “Ignore other applications” for a single instance.

    To test to see if it’s fixed, first close all Excel files, and then open two files via Windows Explorer. If Excel is now working the way you want, then you’re done. Yay!

    If it’s still not working, you should know that it’s unlikely you did something to cause Excel’s behavior to change. Windows Updates are usually the cause of this capability being reset. Here’s how to fix it.

    Step 2 - Repair the Windows Registry
    Go to:
    Start, Run, and enter “excel.exe /unregserver” (without the quotes.)
    This runs instantly and gives no visual feedback.

    Then go to:
    Start, Run, and enter “excel.exe /regserver” (without the quotes.)

    This takes a minute or so to run. There will be a couple of popup windows, and there will be no visible change when it’s done. However, you have just un-registered and re-registered Excel, so your system will be back to a clean starting point.

    Step 3 - Repair the Windows startup commands
    In Windows Explorer go to:
    Tools, Folder Options, File Types tab, select XLS, Advanced, select Open, Edit
    (Tip: To quickly select XLS in the long File Types list, just type XLS.)

    At this point you should be looking at a dialog box titled “Editing action for type: Microsoft Excel Worksheet”. Here is a list of what these fields should be at this point in the process:
    Action: &Open
    Application used to perform action:
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\EXCEL.EXE" /e %1
    Use DDE: checked
    DDE Message: [open("%1")]
    Application: EXCEL
    DDE Application Not Running: blank
    Topic: System

    You will need to repair two fields:
    1. Add quotes to the “%1” argument in the field
    Application used to perform action:
    "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\EXCEL.EXE" /e %1

    This fixes the problem where Windows can’t find the file because of spaces in the pathname.
    2. Add a comment in the field
    DDE Application Not Running: [do nothing if Excel is not already running]

    Any text can be entered in the square brackets. This prevents Windows from opening Excel twice the first time it’s invoked. When there is a comment in this field, Windows will ONLY run the “DDE Message” action the first time Excel is opened.

    At this point, you should be able to use Step 1 above to set the “Ignore other applications” preference to work the way you want it to.

    One last note: If you run multiple files in one instance, but want to be able to Alt-Tab between them,
    In Excel, go to
    Tools, Options, View tab

    Check the “Windows in Taskbar” preference. This will display each file separately in your Windows Taskbar, and you will be able to quickly Alt-Tab between them.

    Good luck!

    Excel Video Tutorials / Excel Dashboards Reports


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