Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Excel 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Excel, click here: Using a Single Instance of Excel with Two Monitors.

Using a Single Instance of Excel with Two Monitors

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 11, 2020)


Joe has a system that uses dual monitors. He would like to have one Excel workbook appear on one of the monitors and another workbook appear on the other monitor. He can do this, but only if he opens two instances of Excel. The problem with that, however, is that he cannot easily copy and paste information from one workbook to another. What would be ideal is if Joe could open both workbooks in a single instance of Excel and still have the two workbooks appear on their own monitors.

Assuming that you've got Windows configured so that it views the two monitors as a single desktop, there is only one way to do this that we've been able to discover. Follow these general steps:

  1. Open one of the workbooks in Excel, as you normally would.
  2. Make sure that the Excel program window doesn't fill the entirety of a monitor. (Click the Restore button, in the upper-right corner of the program window, if necessary.)
  3. Make sure the program window is fully visible in your left-most monitor. (Drag the title bar of that program window into that monitor, if necessary.)
  4. Drag the right side of the program window into the right-most monitor. Your program window should now cover most of the extended desktop, across two monitors.
  5. Open the second workbook in this same instance of Excel.
  6. Display the View tab of the ribbon.
  7. Click the Arrange All tool in the Window group. You should see the Arrange Windows dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  8. Figure 1. The Arrange Windows dialog box.

  9. Make sure the Vertical radio button is selected.
  10. Click OK.
  11. Drag the borders of the workbooks so that each appears fully in the left and right monitor windows.

If you prefer, you can record a macro as you do these steps, and then run that macro each time you want to position your workbooks. Also, there is one drawback to this approach: The ribbon extends across the top of both monitors, which can (once in a while) make getting to some of the tools on the ribbon a bit interesting.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (6199) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Excel in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Using a Single Instance of Excel with Two Monitors.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is five more than 5?

2020-07-18 06:10:57


Little hope, but maybe your can help. Vote here: Restore MDI... Kill SDI

2019-07-15 12:19:41


The source of some confusion shown in previous comments is that Excel 13 changed from MDI (Multiple Document Interface) to SDI (Single...).

When it did so, the thing that affected most people was the limited copy and paste. Each instance regarded the others as utterly different programs, not "brothers" that should work together better. So copying and pasting formulas and formats did not work. This has since been fixed, though not very long ago (about two years).

Nowadays the aggravations center around the fact that in MDI, you had one ribbon, period, and a workspace beneath it. That workspace had all your open files. (Of course(!): you could ALWAYS open all the instances you wished in a variety of ways, but the default behavior was for all to open in the single isntance already open.) So the loss here was that now each file opened (each instance of Excel running) has its own ribbon. So if you liked to display two files one above the other (for example) to make editing or comparison, perhaps, easier, now a ribbon not only is in the way, but the rows visible is reduced by any display of the ribbons.

A second aggravation experienced is in the use of VBA. Anything meant to work with more than one file suddenly had issues. You must rewrrite a fair number of things to account for those issues and overcome them. Retest, redistribute, re-explain to everyone, and so on. Further, there seems now to be some unavaoidable flickering of the files in the display area as the macros move back and forth, flickering which never occurred in MDI.

Recently a small amount of the default opening behavior was fixed. Initially, the only way to open two files in the same instance was to use File|Open in the chosen instance. Click/Double Click on a file in any aspect of Explorer or open one from any other program and it opened a whole new instance of Excel. This has been partially fixed in that one can take a file from Explorer and drag it onto the desired instance of Excel and it will open in that instance (really, not just seeming to: according to Task Manager anyway). But it won't let you drag and drop from something like even Outlook, a family product. And clicking/double clicking in Explorer still opens a second instance. Even the File|Open method and the fixed drag and drop method will not overcome the extra ribbon or the VBA issues, apparently.

So, if you have a version older than Excel 13, or do not use functionality that is affected, never noticed the "all have Ribbons", or do use functionality that was affected but has since been fixed, you might not realize any of this happened. Hence the confusion.

Mr. Wyatt DID allude to it briefly (his 4th sentence) but did not expand on it. As you can see, expanding might not really have fit the scope of a "tip" rather than a "dissertation"... (And this tip must've been written prior to fixing that horrible copy and paste business.)

No explanation given by MS has ever made sense. The most common one you can track down is multi-monitor people demanded SDI so they could just hump things from one monitor to another with the mouse. Fails for two reasons: 1) They always could anyway. Just open separate isntances and do whatever you like with the windows. 2) Re-programming to be SDI had to be pretty much a b*tch of a job. JUST adding a command line switch (like the "/e" we use to not have a blank spreadsheet created on opening the program) would have taken 4 seconds. Problem solved.

So the only thing that makes sense is MS desired to change to SDI for its own internal reasons. Ones we wouldn't he happy to know the choice was made for so they don't brag them up, just stonewall with ignorant sounding guff.

So... anyway... the part that is confusing a few folks is real, it just hasn't (and hopefully never will) caused you aggravation that forced you to learn about it. But the things people say that are the source of your confusion are real things. Sadly.

2019-06-22 09:56:17

J. Woolley

Here's something that might be of interest if you have a multi-monitor configuration:

2019-01-24 03:38:26

Alan Elston

Hi Rodger.
Strange… I just tried to copy from one instance of Excel to another and all went well, - all formatting was also copied across.
But I do remember that there have been occasions when only values were copied across from one instance to another instance. Just now I have not been able to repeat the problem which I know I have had sometimes in the past. .

I believe the clipboard generally is a very unpredictable beast. It has many versions which it holds of what you put into it. It seems to be luck sometimes what version and what formats get used…

Alan Elston

2019-01-23 05:26:24

Roger Stone

I'm a little confused by how you describe this problem. If I open an Excel spreadsheet on one monitor, then open a second spreadsheet from that, and simply drag the new spreadsheet onto the other monitor - it all works fine, and copying and pasting from one to the other works exactly as you'd expect. However, neither is there a problem copying and pasting if you have two instances of Excel open, is there?

2019-01-22 05:47:07

Nguyen Lien

Dear Mr Allen,

Thank you for your guide.

Best regards,

2018-08-16 10:05:06

Col Delane

Re the different experience of users:

I understand a change was made in either XL2013 or XL2016/Office 365 to how the application and workbooks were managed that enabled display of different workbooks on different monitors. In XL2010 and prior it is not possible to achieve this, so the workaround as described in this tip is as good as it gets.

2018-08-16 10:03:57

Dave Bonin

Alan and Scott,

I believe the issue is not whether you can arrange multiple open
files within a single instance of Excel, but rather how to quickly
and evenly arrange the files.

Of course you can drag and resize the file windows as you like.
It's just how much effort do you want to put into arranging the

In my case, I wrote a macro to do all the arranging across two
monitors with just one short key because I frequently work with
two files and I'm constantly closing and opening the second.

2018-08-15 22:44:04

Alan Cannon

I don't understand the issue. I have Excel 2013. I can open a workbook, then click File | Open and select/open another workbook. It is still in the same instance of Excel but opens in its own window, which you can drag anywhere you want it! And if you have a single monitor you can do the same thing if you size the 2 windows so both fit on the screen. … What am I missing? I know I only have one instance of Excel open because I don't get a warning about personal.xlsb already open when I open the 2nd workbook.

2018-08-15 18:37:10


Same as Philip and Keith. Win10 and Office Home & Business 2016. Never been a problem

2018-08-15 10:18:07

Dave Bonin

I have three monitors, all the same size and all side-by-side.
My primary monitor is the center one, and I routinely use Excel
across the center and right monitors.

I got tired of fiddling around with how two or more Excel files
were displayed across the monitors, so I wrote two simple
macros and put them in my Personal.xlsb file.

The first macro displays Excel across two monitors. The files
are spread evenly across the monitors, which for two files is
ideal. Whichever file is active appears in the leftmost position.

The second displays Excel maximized on my center monitor.

I assigned the macros to shortcut keys Ctrl-M and Ctrl-Shift-M,
respectively. "M" for monitor.

You will have to tweak the parameters in the first macro to suit
your monitor resolutions and borders.

Sub FillAllMonitors()

' Purpose: Expand Excel to fill all monitors in side-by-side views.
' Notes: Assigned to keyboard shortcut Ctrl-m (m for monitors)
' Need to adjust the values for MonitorQuantity, MonitorWidth and MonitorHeight to suit your hardware.
' May also need to similarly adjust the values for MonitorEdges and MonitorGutter.
' May also need to similarly adjust the values for OriginX, OriginY and Pixels2Points.
' In the two-monitor view, you may not be able to adjust the overall window so that there are no
' slivers of visible underlying windows (or desktop) outboard of the left and right window edges.
' If so, then center the overall window as best as you can.

' ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
' You may need to adjust the constants BELOW to suit your hardware
' ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Const MonitorQty As Double = 2 'How many side-by-side monitors to spread Excel over

' Pick an appropriate pair of Width and Height values and comment out the other(s)
Const MonitorWidth As Double = 1680 'Physical width of monitors in pixels, eg: 1680 wide x 1050 tall
Const MonitorHeight As Double = 1050 'Physical height of monitors in pixels, eg: 1680 wide x 1050 tall

' Const MonitorWidth As Double = 1280 'Physical width of monitors in pixels, eg: 1280 wide x 1024 tall
' Const MonitorHeight As Double = 1024 'Physical height of monitors in pixels, eg: 1280 wide x 1024 tall

Const MonitorEdges As Double = 2 'Allowance for left and right edges in pixels, eg: 2
Const MonitorGutter As Double = 29 'Allowance for bottom toolbar in pixels, eg: 29

Const OriginX As Double = 1 'Where do the monitors start on the horizontal axis in pixels, eg: 1
Const OriginY As Double = 1 'Where do the monitors start on the vertical axis in pixels, eg: 1

Const Pixels2Points As Double = 0.75 'Conversion factor between pixels and points

' ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
' You may need to adjust the constants ABOVE to suit your hardware
' ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dim VisibleWindowsCount As Long: VisibleWindowsCount = 0
Dim ThisWindow As Window

' This is the one WindowState we can work with
Application.WindowState = xlNormal

' Anchor the top left corner
Application.Left = Pixels2Points * OriginX
Application.Top = Pixels2Points * OriginY

' Aim for really big knowing it will stop at the physical screen edges
Application.Width = Pixels2Points * ((MonitorQty * MonitorWidth) + MonitorEdges)
Application.Height = Pixels2Points * (MonitorHeight - MonitorGutter)

' How many visible windows
For Each ThisWindow In Application.Windows
If ThisWindow.Visible = True Then VisibleWindowsCount = VisibleWindowsCount + 1
Next ThisWindow

' Arrange windows side by side
If VisibleWindowsCount > 1 Then
Application.Windows.Arrange ArrangeStyle:=xlVertical

' Maximize the active window
On Error Resume Next
Application.ActiveWindow.WindowState = xlMaximized
End If

End Sub

Sub FillOneMonitor()

' Purpose: Maximize Excel to completely fill one monitor.
' Notes: Assigned to keyboard shortcut Ctrl-M (M for monitors)

' This is the one WindowState we can work with
Application.WindowState = xlMaximized

' Maximize the active window
On Error Resume Next
Application.ActiveWindow.WindowState = xlMaximized

End Sub

2018-08-15 04:05:46


I use DisplayFusion to control 4 monitors and extending any window across any number of monitors can instantly be accomplished with a key combo. For example I use ctrl-win-2 for two monitor spread. The free version can do this, although many more controls are available in the Pro version.

2018-08-15 03:22:17


Don’t understand this. I jus open as many workbooks as I want in the same Excel instance, and they each can work in their separate window. And I’m NOT using Excel365. Works on both Mac and Win10 ...

2018-08-15 03:12:44


I have just read your post regarding using a single instance of excel using two monitors, I am running Excel 365 and Windows 10 and can simply open two or more workbooks (in a single instance of Excel) and drag them as desired to where I want any where on the two monitors without looking at View and Arrange All. Would this be because I am using Excel 365?

2018-04-23 12:41:50


Thanks Allen. That method works okay, but I am trying to work in one worksheet, while the second worksheet is regularly updated through a visual basic routine that is continuously running. The problem is that every time the second worksheet updates, it interrupts the one I am working in. Do you know of any way to resolve this?

2016-09-26 22:11:07


Thanks, it works!!
Your guidance is simple to follow. Thanks and God Bless.

2016-09-06 12:19:27


Thank you again. As you can see, I'm very angry, but very grateful to you. Thank you all over again

2016-08-18 14:48:15


This worked perfectly for me and saved me probably 3 hours messing around back and forth between 3 spreadsheets, Thank you so much!

2016-04-26 07:49:10


This tip is awesome for wanting to view full size spreadsheets at the same time. Thank you.

2014-12-05 14:40:27


I unable to work in two monitors by using separated excel sheets which i have different sources. And i unable to look two excel sheets in two monitors which i have different sources.But i doesn't want "View Two Excel Spreadsheets at Once". I am getting problem in by using number of times Alt+Tab to go another excel sheets.I can open new two separate sheets in two monitors,but while opening my sources i unable to do it.

2014-09-18 15:34:34


AWESOME!!! So excited to be able to do this; I don't know why I didn't think of this before. :) Thank you, thank you!!

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