This post describes how to open Excel files in separate instances. Have you ever experienced the frustration of having your Excel application freeze or slow down when working on a complex spreadsheet? Or have you ever needed to use Power Query in Excel but couldn’t switch to another workbook in the same instance? If so, you’re not alone.
The good news is that there’s a solution – opening multiple instances of Excel. In this article, we’ll explore 7 different methods to do just that so you can work more efficiently and tackle even the most complex tasks in Excel.
Table of contents
Why Open Multiple Instances of Excel
When working with Excel, there are many scenarios where you might want to open multiple instances. One of the main reasons is to boost your productivity. If you have a large and complex spreadsheet, it can take time to process, and your Excel application might slow down. Opening multiple instances will let you work in one instance, while the other one is performing the calculations in the background.
Another reason is when you’re working with Power Query. When you open Power Query in Excel, you won’t be able to switch to another workbook that’s open in the same instance. Having a separate instance lets you use Power Query and continue working in another Excel file at the same time.
In short, opening multiple instances of Excel can save you time, boost productivity, and make it easier to work with complex spreadsheets and Power Query. It’s like having two independent applications open. In the next sections, we’ll explore seven different ways to open multiple instances of Excel.
How to Open a New Instance of Excel
Now that we know why it’s helpful to open multiple instances of Excel, let’s dive into the different methods you can use to do so. In this chapter, we’ll explore 7 different ways you can open a new instance of Excel, from using the taskbar to modifying your Excel shortcut properties. By the end of this chapter, you’ll have a range of options to choose from depending on your preference and workflow.
Alt + Open Excel
The easiest method to open a new Excel instance is:
- Right-click the Excel icon in the taskbar.
- Hold down the Alt – key and left-click the Excel icon in the menu.
- Keep holding the Alt-key until the window appears.
- Click Yes to open a new instance of Excel.
Alt + Scroll Wheel
Easily open a new instance of Excel with this method:
- Press and hold the Alt-Key
- Hover your mouse over Excel’s Taskbar Icon and click the scroll wheel
- Keep holding the Alt–key until a window appears.
- Click Yes to open a new instance of Excel.
This directly opens a new Excel instance with just a click of the scroll wheel.
Double Click on a File, then hold Alt
When you prefer to open a file directly in the file explorer, you can use the third method. The fastest way to open a specific file in a new instance of Excel is by:
- Find your file in the file explorer.
- Double-click the file to trigger an opening event.
- After clicking, directly press and hold your Alt – key
- When the pop-up appears, select Yes to open a new Excel instance
After confirming, you have now opened your Excel file in another instance. For this method, make sure that in step 3, you hold your Alt – key directly after you double-click the file. Doing this during the clicking won’t work.
Create a Custom Shortcut
If you plan to open excel in a new instance more often, you can also create a custom shortcut to open excel in the right way. The easiest way to do that is to:
- First, we need the target of our shortcut. To get it, right-click on your Excel icon in the taskbar -> right-click again on ‘Excel’ -> click properties. This opens the Excel Properties window.
- Copy the address that’s displayed in the Target field of the Shortcut tab. For me, this is: “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\EXCEL.EXE”. This includes the quotes!
- On your desktop, right-click -> New -> Shortcut. This opens the screen to create a shortcut. You first need to add the location of the item we make a shortcut for.
- For the location, paste the target we just copied. Then, right after this code, write the following: ” /x”. This time without the quotes! So for me, the adjusted target is:
“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\EXCEL.EXE” /x
- Press next and give your shortcut a name.
- Now click finish
You have now created a new shortcut. When you click this shortcut, Excel will open a separate instance. You can also add this shortcut to your taskbar if you like. In that way, you can simply click that shortcut. Thanks go to Mike Barrett, who mentioned this in the comments.
Use the Run Window
One of the quickest ways is using the Run window. It uses a similar method as the previous example. To do this:
- Click Start -> enter ‘Run’ -> fill in “Excel.exe /x” and press Enter.
- Or on Windows 10: enter “Excel.exe /x” in the start menu and press Enter.
A new Excel instance will open.
Use VBA Macro
For those who prefer a more customized approach, VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) can be a valuable tool. To create a VBA script that opens multiple workbooks in separate windows, follow these steps:
- Press ALT + F11 to open the VBA editor.
- Click on Insert and select Module.
- Enter the following code into the module:
Sub OpenNewExcelInstance() Dim xlApp As Excel.Application Set xlApp = New Excel.Application xlApp.Workbooks.Add xlApp.Visible = True Set xlApp = Nothing End Sub
Run the above VBA script to open a second Excel instance.
Edit the Registry: Force Excel to Open New Instance by Default
This section explains how to open each Excel spreadsheet in a new instance by configuring a registry key. Of all methods, this one involves the most steps to configure. However, if you need Excel to open a new instance by default, this method may be worth your while.
Note: this method only works when you use the Excel icon to open a new spreadsheet. When opening a new spreadsheet from within a file by using File -> Open, the file still opens in the current Excel instance. The same happens when you open a file from within the file explorer.
Please be careful when adjusting the registry. Adjusting the wrong entries may cause serious problems. If you’re new to this, it could be good to make a backup of the registry before making any changes. In that way, you can always restore it. To do this:
- Click Start -> type ‘Regedit’ -> click on Regedit in the search results
- Press File -> Export -> Select Export Range ‘All’ -> Save the backup in a safe location.
Edit the Registry
Now we’re set to go. To edit the registry:
- First, close all instances of Excel.
- Open the Registry Editor (as explained in the backup step).
- Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options.
- Click Edit in the menu, press New, and select DWORD value.
- Name the entry ‘DisableMergeInstance’, and press enter.
- Right-click the entry DisableMergeInstance, and select Modify.
- In the Value data box, fill in 1, and click OK.
Next time you open a new Excel window using the taskbar icon, it will open in a new instance.
By combining these techniques and tips, you’ll be well-equipped to manage multiple Excel workbooks in separate windows and maximize your efficiency. So go ahead, give it a try, and see the difference it makes in your workflow.
These were my favourite methods to open a new Excel instance. Which one is your favourite?