When you work with multiple workbooks in Excel, you may sometimes experience issues. During a resource intensive task in one spreadsheet, other spreadsheets within the same Excel instance often become unusable. For example, you could be running a long macro or are refreshing Power Query. Or you may be pulling data from an SQL database or have Excel recalculate all your formulas. When an operation has you waiting, you may want to continue working on something else. Because who likes to wait? Yet within the same Excel instance, you cannot use Excel while it’s working.
To prevent this, you can open two separate instances of Excel before running a resource consuming task. Having multiple instances open allows you to use one instance to run an intensive task, while you continue working in another. It’s like having two independent Excel applications open.
Below I share 4 ways to open multiple instances of Excel:
1. Alt + Open Excel
The first, and also my favorite method is the ALT + Open method. It works as follows:
Right click on the Excel icon in the taskbar. As the menu appears, hold down the ALT-key and left-click on the ‘Excel’ menu option.
Hold down the ALT-key until the below window pops up. Press Yes to open a new instance.
2. Run Window
One of the quickest ways to open a new Excel Instance is using the Run window. 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.
3. Use VBA
This method makes use of VBA. Run below VBA code to open a second Excel instance. Do note, this method does not show a pop-up to indicate you opened a new instance.
Dim xlApp As Excel.Application
Set xlApp = New Excel.Application
xlApp.Visible = True
Set xlApp = Nothing
4. Edit the Registry: Force Excel to Open in a New Instance by Default
This section explains how to open each Excel spreadsheet in a new instance by configuring a registry key. From 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.
Please be careful when adjusting the registry. Adjusting the wrong entries may cause serious problems. Before making changes to the registry, please make a backup for restoring purposes. 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’, 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.
These are my favorite methods to open a new Excel instance. Which one is your favorite? Please leave a comment below with your favorite method or with any questions you have.