Work In Multiple Windows


Q. I have lots of RAM memory in my computer so I know it’s capable of keeping many windows open at the same time. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if I have one Excel file open and I open a second one, the first automatically closes. The same thing happens in Word. I don’t understand it. I know that other computer users have no difficulty keeping many Word and Excel windows open so they can conveniently switch from one to the other. What am I doing wrong?

A. It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong; it’s just that you have to reset your defaults in Word and Excel, and that’s easy to do.

Let’s begin with Excel. Click on Tools , Options and then the View tab and check the box next to Windows in Taskbar (see screenshot at right) and click on OK .

Now do the same in Word (and any other Microsoft applications you want to function this way); the View tabs in the other applications will look a little different, but all have the Windows in Taskbar option.

With your new default, you can have many windows open at the same time. However, that solution leads to a different problem: If you have many windows open, the icons representing them won’t fit on the taskbar so it’s hard to access them, or if too many icons are squeezed into that limited space, you may not be able to read the file name. Fortunately, we also have a solution for that: Make the taskbar bigger.

To do this, position your cursor at the upper edge of the blue taskbar until you see a double-headed arrow, as shown above.

Drag the edge upward; that will double the width—and the icon capacity—of the taskbar from this:

To this:

Also notice in the upper screenshot that when I hold my cursor over the Excel icon, a message pops up telling me that three spreadsheet windows are open. However, when I increase the size of the taskbar, that message disappears and now icons for the three windows can be seen in the lower screenshot. The advantage of the larger taskbar is that it’s easier to identify the icons because they are tagged with names of files, as shown in the wider taskbar. But the only way to identify the three icons in the narrow taskbar is to click on one, evoking a list of the open windows (see screenshot below).

The screenshot below shows six open Excel windows—each clearly identified. The disadvantage is that you have to take extra steps to see them, and then you have to click on the icon to bring it on the screen.

Well, there’s a solution for that, too, and this is the method I use because it lets me easily and quickly identify every open window. Hold down the Alt key as you repeatedly press the Tab key; your window will switch from one open application to another, display the opening screen for each so you can easily identify the open file and bring it to the screen (see screenshot below).


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