Efficient ways to open Microsoft Excel

By Kelly L. Williams, CPA, Ph.D.

Q. When I open Excel, I always have to choose Blank workbook. Is there any way to have Excel do this automatically and skip the step of getting the Start screen?

Q. I have a folder of Excel files that I need to have open most of the time I use Excel. Is there a quick way to open them all?

A. Since these questions involve a similar theme, I decided to include them both here. There are actually a couple of ways to have Excel open most conveniently for you. You can disable the Start screen and have either a blank workbook automatically open or specific files automatically open. You can also have Excel open automatically.

Disable Start screen and automatically open a blank Excel workbook

By default, a Start screen appears when you open Excel (see the screenshot below). The Start screen contains recently opened Excel files, Excel templates, and other options. This screen can be useful; however, if you find that you don't really use the options on the screen and just open a new Excel file, you might consider disabling the Start screen from opening automatically.


In order to disable the Start screen, go to File, Options, General. Under Start up options, uncheck Show the Start screen when this application starts. Click OK. The Excel Options window should look similar to the one in the screenshot below.


Now, when you open Excel, a new, blank Excel workbook will automatically open without your having to select that from the Start screen. If you decide you would like the Start screen to open automatically, simply follow the steps above and check Show the Start screen when this application starts.

Disable Start screen and automatically open a specific Excel workbook(s)

Perhaps you don't want the Start screen to appear each time you open Excel, but you also don't want a blank Excel workbook. You may have a file or multiple files that you use often. You can have Excel automatically open that file or files when you open Excel. To do this, go to File, Options, Advanced. Scroll down to General in the Excel Options window. Next to At startup, open all files in:, paste or type the name of the folder that contains the Excel file or files that you want opened automatically when opening Excel. Click OK. The Excel Options window should look similar to the one in the screenshot below.


Automatically open Excel when you start your device

In addition to using one of the two options above, you can have Excel automatically open when you start your device. To do this, click the Windows key+E and the File Explorer window will open. Paste the following location in the address bar, replacing "Username" with your device's username: C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. This will open the Startup folder.

Next, click the Windows Start button on the bottom left of the screen. Right-click on the Excel icon and choose More, Open file location. Within the window that opens, copy the Excel icon. Paste the Excel icon in the Startup folder you opened in the first step. Now, when you start your device, Excel will automatically open.

You can also disable the Start screen and automatically open a blank or specific Excel file in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. You can add any program on your device to the Startup folder to open when you start your device.

Note that this content is based on Microsoft Office 365 for PCs. Other versions of Microsoft Office may work differently.

View a video demonstration of all three techniques at the end of this article.

About the author

Kelly L. Williams, CPA, Ph.D., MBA, is an associate professor of accounting at the Jones College of Business at Middle Tennessee State University.

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Do you have technology questions for this column? Or, after reading an answer, do you have a better solution? Send them to jofatech@aicpa.org. We regret being unable to individually answer all submitted questions.

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