Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Error Opening Second Workbook.

Error Opening Second Workbook

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 13, 2014)

3

When you open a second Excel workbook, do you see an error message indicating that "PERSONAL.XLSB is already open?" If so, this problem has to do with how you are opening the second workbook. There are two ways you can open workbooks: either from within Excel or from the operating system. Opening a workbook from within Excel is done by using the ribbon tools to open the file. Opening a workbook from the operating system is done if you double-click on a workbook icon. Every time you open a workbook from the operating system, you are starting another instance of Excel. The error message appears only if you have a Personal.xlsb workbook on your system and only if you open a second workbook using the operating system method. The first time you open a workbook, it loads Personal.xlsb. The second time you open a workbook (remember—you are actually opening another instance of Excel) the program tries to load Personal.xlsb again. Since it is already open, you get the error. The solution is to open the second workbook from within Excel, not from the operating system. Use the method of opening a workbook appropriate within your version of Excel and you won't see the error message. If you must open a second instance of Excel and you don't want the error message, find the Personal.xlsb workbook using Windows' Search feature. (Do this in Windows, not in Excel.) Right-click the file and choose Properties. In the Properties dialog box for the file, choose to make the file Read-Only. Once the file is read-only, you no longer get the error when you open up secondary instances of Excel. Why? Because the first instance doesn't leave the file open due to it being read-only. You can also bypass the error condition completely if you make one small configuration change in Excel. Follow these steps:
  1. Display the Excel Options dialog box. (In Excel 2007 click the Office button and then click Excel Options. In Excel 2010 and Excel 2013 display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  3. Scroll through the options until you can see the General group. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The General group of the Advanced options in the Excel Options dialog box.

  5. Make sure the Ignore Other Applications That Use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) check box is not selected.
  6. Click OK.
According to Excel's help system, if the Ignore Other Applications check box is selected, then Excel won't share DDE information with other applications. This isn't all, however—it also affects how Excel starts when you double-click on a workbook in Windows and you already have Excel open. If the option is cleared (as it should be), then Excel starts the new workbook in the current instance of Excel. If it is selected (as it may be), then Excel tries to open a second instance of itself, and you will see an error message if you have a Personal.xlsb file on your system.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (10547) applies to Microsoft Excel 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Excel here: Error Opening Second Workbook.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Forcing a Page Break Before a Paragraph

There are times that you just want to begin a paragraph (perhaps a heading) at the top of a new page. Word allows you to ...

Discover More

Adding Data Labels to Your Chart

Adding labels to a chart can make the information presented in the chart more understandable. Excel allows you to add ...

Discover More

Excel 2007 Custom Formats (Table of Contents)

The fundamental building block to displaying your data is the feature known as custom formats. Here is the table of contents ...

Discover More

Excel Smarts for Beginners! Featuring the friendly and trusted For Dummies style, this popular guide shows beginners how to get up and running with Excel while also helping more experienced users get comfortable with the newest features. Check out Excel 2013 For Dummies today!

More ExcelTips (ribbon)

Finding the Parent Folder

Do you need to figure out the name of the parent folder of whatever folder a worksheet is in? Believe it or not, this can be ...

Discover More

Finding the Size of a Workbook

Keeping tabs on the size of a workbook can be important when using Excel. You have a couple of options that will allow you to ...

Discover More

Determining the Length of a Text File

When processing plain text files in a macro, it is often helpful to know how much data the file contains. The normal way to ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 + 6?

2014-09-16 08:35:33

Albert

Can't you work with an auto open macro which disables notifications and enables them again some time later??


2014-09-15 08:45:41

Glenn Case

Nor does it mention why one might want to open a second instance of Excel vs opening a workbook from within the current instance. I open a second instance whenever I have a high-memory-usage spreadsheet, such as one which might have to process 50000-100000 or more line items. This makes the processing much faster and I am less likely to encounter memory issues.


2014-09-13 09:46:14

JT

There is no mention what the purpose of the "Personal" which is stored on your local hard disk. It holds Excel Macros stored within in if chosen by the Macro developer (person). Making it Read-Only or deleting could cause issues when building new or modifying old macros to it/within it.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the ribbon interface (Excel 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.