Why Excel 2013 Always Shows Independent Windows For Each Spreadsheet

Excel's handling of multiple open windows has long varied depending on the version you're running, the OS you're using and the options you have set. Excel 2013 eliminates most of the variability: every spreadsheet in Excel 2013 opens in a separate instance of the program.

Excel's full adoption of the multiple document instance (MDI) model means that if you have two Excel spreadsheets open on Windows, you can switch between them using Alt-Tab. That was possible in earlier Excel releases, but only if you tweaked various options and settings.

This approach you can use the Windows snap option to easily compare two screens; use the Windows-Left and Windows-Right options and you can easily compare two spreadsheets side by side. The downside is that you can't disable the option if you'd prefer all Excel Windows in a single instance. I'm actually happier having them separate; what do you think?

Open Excel workbooks in separate windows and view them side by side [Excel Blog]


    I love the way Office 2013 keeps everything separate. I am always opening different Excel and Word files at the same time - on the same screen and different screens.
    That's what I can not understand about Metro/Modern. No windows. WTF. If i had to use a Metro version of Office it would be like typing with one finger.

    Won't Officetab fix this, like it has with earlier versions?

      It wont. If your main concern is screen real state, as described below, then Officetab exacerbates the problem by adding yet another row to the already busy ribbon. I guess I'm going back to excel 2010 until MS addresses this issue, which it will probably be in excel 2016.

    I hate the 2010 as they put all in one windows, hard to compare two spreadsheets.

      You can open up in separate instances of excel in 2010. When you open your file you leave that open then navigate your start menu program file and open up another instance of excel from there and it will open in a separate window. Thats what I do all the time as I need separate instances open at all times with the way I work.

        yeah I know you can but for some reason sometimes, Vlookup doesn't work or copy and paste doesn't work between 2 instances... just weird. maybe just my work laptop

    Yeah - finally.

    Only how many years behind Word? guess they have to leave something for the upgrade.

    Other than memory usage I can't think of a single reason why anyone would prefer a single instance for multiple spreadsheets, I always open up a new instance of 2010 for every spreadsheet I open.

      I frequently need to compare two sheets arranged horizontally (as when making sure they have the same columns in the same order). If I try this with 2 windows, I lose a lot of screen real estate. Two horizontally arranged spreadsheets in the same window was ideal for that task. Also If I'm switching between two spreadsheets and a second application, it is very useful to have separate CTRL+TAB and ALT+TAB behaviors.

      When you are viewing two or more Workbooks side by side, you now have multiple smaller ribbons littering your screen real-estate. Would it not be better to have the option of sharing the ribbon across multiple workbooks that way I am not always looking at duplicate condensed menus??

    Does this break VBA's ability to work across multiple spreadsheets? If so, I will not be a happy accountant.

      According to the replies in the linked blog referencing cells in other open sheets works fine still, it's just the windowing behaviour that's changed.

    Make a chart fill a tab, then use View->Size with window. Oh dear- that option is STILL missing from the Ribbon?
    Then I'm sticking with Excel 2003.

    Having them as a single instance is a major pain in the ass and a source of frustration for myself and my clients, as i had to teach many of them (who have 2+ screens) how to open multiple instances. it isn't difficult but it is annoying, and the default setting was stupid. no reason for a single instance especially now when 8GB RAM is standard.

    The issue I have with the multiple instances of Excel in 2013 is, when you have custom add-ins and macros running it locks all instances of Excel. Even though you are running them side my side on 2 different montiors, you still can't access and instance of Excel until the downloading/uploading completes in the 1 instance. With Office 2010, you could right click Excel, open a new instance, and truly run it independently from other instances. A flawed design if you ask me.

      Well, I'm late to this party, but I completely agree. I run some heavy maths-based data crunching all written in VBA, calling some fortran library routines for the tough stuff. Pre Excel 2013 I could set the programs off running, then work in another instance. So I'm stuck with 2010 unless I spend a lot of time re-writing this in another environment.

    The way I understand it: Excel 2013 works in ONE instance yet MULTIPLE windows by default.
    Good to have it in different windows, as almost everybody said - I agree with this.
    BAD thing so far: I am annoyed by the dropdown list of UNDO button, which accumulates all the actions in all the sheets in all the worksheets you have done recently.
    Impossible to reverse something you wrote in a given file, if you wrote 15 other things in other files afterwards, as you have to reverse them all.
    Impossible to just check whether you made an unintentional mistake 4 hours ago when it prompts you with "do you want to save changes?" How do I know - my dropdown list has 1000 actions in 10 excel files already!!!
    I want to disable this or to make opening in separate INSTANCES by default.
    (I can force open a new instance, but I want it default.)
    Any hacks, lifehackers?
    Thanks in advance!

    This is incorrect:
    "Excel’s full adoption of the multiple document instance (MDI) model...."
    MDI is exactly what they eliminated. SDI, single document interface, or "Document per Instance" is what they adopted for Excel, just as Word has always had.


    Excel 2013 has some nice features but none of them offsets the huge negative pointed out by commentor Erik (June 12, 2013).

    If you work with multiple spreadsheets (like I do every day) you have no option but to have a separate window for each workbook. And that means, even with the Ribbon minimized, you still lose a ton of real estate. That's because each window has its own 1) filename area, 2) Ribbon tabs, 3) Quick Access Toolbar [QAT] & 4) Formula Bar.

    The biggest aggravation though is that, unless each window stretches across the full width of your screen, you lose access to the right side of your QAT shortcuts.

    Being able to share a common Ribbon & QAT, etc., is a huge plus (imo) and it would sure be nice if Microsoft would give you the option to use either display format.

    Would that be so hard to do?

    I totally agree with Erik's post and the last post of 3/19. This aspect of Excel 2013 is a huge disappointment....

    I totally agree with Erik's post.
    I usually work with multiple spreadsheets and often need the formula bar expanded to 2 or 3 lines. Trying to show all the windows on the screen just became impossible.

    I was in shock to find that, in Office 2013, they made Excel work like Word has instead of the other way around. I am a spreadsheet developer and typically work with multiple spreadsheets simultaneously, and now it will be very difficult to have more than a couple of XLSs open at a time. It also kills the ability to open an XLS and get two pre-determined views open side-by-side like you could in past versions of Excel. It looks like I will have to go back to using Excel 2010 to maintain my productivity.

    How to revert back to single view? i dont want excel to open all spreadsheets at the same time . Thanks

    So it would seem that Microsoft, like Google, Yahoo, and all the rest, decided that instead of asking the customer what they would like (how about the option to pick which way I want it?!) they change views, themes, layouts... for what purpose? It does not make me more productive and in an organization like where I work (60K+ employees) the impact to productivity has been measured as staff-CENTURIES of lost productivity. How does this make sense? I'm pretty sure they don't teach "cost your customer centuries in lost productivity" in B school. Of course, maybe that's changed since the 90's - so much has.

      right on Khart! Let each user decide how he/she wants to use a tool. All these people yelling that their way is the right and only way are as unthoughful as Microsoft deciding for everyone.

    I just wanted to chime in on this as it has become a source of frustration for me with Office 2013. MSExcel has always allowed you to open multiple workbooks in a single window. The Boon of this is that you can compare 2, 3 or 4 workbooks side by side or horizontally and easily link cells from workbook to workbook or tab to tab and or verify formula &/or format across multiple workbooks. But the command ribbon and quick access toolbar remained full size.

    The new format seems fine for simple use (it seems to me that it's reduce functionality has tablet use in mind more than PC). Except for those like myself who are often working with 3 or 4 workbooks open at a time the ribbon becomes compressed the more workbooks you compare so that by the time you reach 4 workbooks the ribbon and most of the commands are buried in truncated " Ho| In|Pag|For|" As best I can tell there is no way to maximize the ribbon or toolbar across all workbooks when comparing side by side.

    95% of all business and engineering software operates with the program acting as window or container and the open documents open up inside that window. Excel was the Gold Standard and yet it seems they are trying to make their class leading software look like Google Docs (Talk about the tail wagging the dog).

    Why don't they just make it an option? Then we can all be happy with how we use it, that seems like it would be pretty simple.

    The condensed ribbon when multiple windows are open is terrible as well as upon each new sheet opened they stack on top of each other a little over and a little lower; cutting sheet tabs off the bottom of the page unless you drag the sheet up... on every single one. I like to have one window open, at a particular size, so i can get to important desktop icons quickly and not having to move the window around or collapse them. Then all your open sheets are fenced in what ever area you define for your work space.

    For someone that spends a large majority of their day using this program, it's a real PITA. Another improvement gone awry~

      I was just provided a new laptop with a smaller screen than its predecessor, 14" instead of 15.6". They also thoughtfully provided the dumbed-down Office 2013 version that requires opening a separate Excel instance for every workbook opened, which takes up way too much real estate on my diminutive screen. That might be good for Word, and might be good for SOME Excel users, but it really stinks for my use of Excel. Unfortunately, I cannot download Openoffice in my corporate environment, so I am stuck with this decidedly inferior version of Excel. None of the new "features" make up for this thoughtless waste of my desktop space which was already skimpy before Excel 2013. Talk about the wail wagging the dog. Redmond, please provide a "feature (bug?)" fix to allow users the choice of multiple workbooks in one Excel instance.

    Is there any way to control the vertical and horizontal offsets for new windows? I'd prefer to have the new window open offset to the left but not downwards

    Every poster seems to have missed the point.

    Who cares what your preference is?

    You should each have the option to set it to the way you want, but now you cannot choose any more.

    What MS are doing is to remove choice, and this can be seen in the operating systems also.

      Exactly - we just started migrating to this and it is a serious pain as I typically have multiple spreadsheets and/or power point documents open simultaneously that I am modifying. Very messy, and this isn't a "you will get used to it thing"! It is crazy that they would take this functionality away. I spent 2 days looking for the setting in the options before doing a Google search and I have to say this is more than disappointing.

    Mandatary multiple windows is bad for heavy duty VBA use. It takes much longer to open up all the files I need and when I use the status bar to indicate program progress, the information is reprinted on EVERY open spreadsheet window, and dramatically slows execution. It is a very rude surprise.

    actually comparing 2 worksheets was easier before 2013/2016. open 2 worksheets in 1 workbook, minimize the sheets and arrange either horizontally or vertically, whatever works best for your particular application. formulas work very well as your in the same workbook instance... however.., now with 2 separate workbooks I find it sloppy and it just plain eats up way to much screen real estate. also agree with another comment I saw here, and have heard from others, make it an option...

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