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This week we continue exploring new features in Excel 2013. This post is brought to you by Chad Rothschiller, a Program Manager in the Excel Team.
"How do I open my workbooks in separate windows?" This has been a common inquiry from many of our customers who want to look at their workbooks side by side, or spread them across more than one monitor.
Good news: starting with Excel 2013, each of your workbooks opens in its own window, similar to Word and PowerPoint today. That means that each workbook has its own ribbon and top-level window frame that you can move and resize independent from your other open workbooks. This functionality can improve multitasking, visibility, and analysis across workbooks.
In computing terminology, this is called Single Document Interface (SDI). Versions of Excel before the 2013 release used Multiple Document Interface (MDI), where all workbook windows were contained within a top-level "master" container window.
Here's an example of four new workbooks. Note that each one has its own window and ribbon:
Now that you have multiple windows, how should you arrange them? Well, there are plenty of options and below are some favorites:
Smart Snapping: Grab the top of the window, and drag it to the top, left, or right edge of your screen, then let go. The window automatically resize:
Windows Taskbar: If you hold down the Shift Key and then right click the Excel icon on the Windows Task Bar you will see options for arranging your open windows. The cool thing about these options is that if you have multiple monitors, Windows remembers each workbook's monitor and arranges workbooks displayed within the same monitor.
Excel Ribbon: Click on View the Arrange All to see more options for arranging your workbooks:
Note that you can still create new windows (or multiple windows) showing the same workbook. Similarly, the "View Side by Side" and "Synchronous Scrolling" features work just like they used to.
Thanks for learning more about this new feature in Excel 2013. I hope you all get wonderful benefits from being able to arrange workbooks on your screens! In a future post, we'll go into a couple more advanced topics such as "Merging Instances and Long Running Operations" and how they work with pre-existing add-ins. In the meantime, let us know in the comments how you're planning to use this new feature or anything else you'd like to see in future versions.
--Chad Rothschiller, Excel Program Manager
I little off-subject, but since you have not written a post about this, I figure this is just as good a place as any to ask this question. The Excel 2013 developer site was set up on July 16, 2012.See: msdn.microsoft.com/.../fp179694.aspx
At this site, there resides the Object model VBA programming language. All of the new objects, properties and methods are listed. And, there are ZERO CODE EXAMPLES that have been added since it was created. Since Microsoft is now selling this product, don't you think that it is about time to show people that might be interested some examples of how to effectively use the new objects, properties and methods. Since there are Excel PMs that contribute to this site, I would expect more than just a shallow response to this inquiry. I repeat, there has been NO updates to this site since it was created. It's sort of like buying a fully-loaded Mercedes-Benz that comes with no owners manual.
If you are talking about adding it to the Quick Access Toolbar or the Ribbon, yes they removed it from Excel 2013. You can get it back by saving and importing your Ribbon from Excel 2010. There is also a way to manually edit the save file but I do not have time to look how I did it right now.
CTRL-Tab breaks in Excel in 2013 if you click from say Excel to Acrobat (or any program that is not Excel). It does not work the same as 2010 (well it might if you don't have the "Show all windows in taskbar" option unchecked like I do in 2010). The option does not exist in 2013 so if that's the cause then it sucks. I frequently have 5-6 workbooks open at one time.
Google search Excel 2013 invisible window bug and you will find the posts I made about it on the office preview forum with screenshots. I can't do anymore than that, I uninstalled 2013. Was going to leave it but it was messing with 2010.
2010 is perfect, going back to it from 2013 was amazing.
I am curently NOT using excel 2013. I prefer keeping my worbooks in manual calculation mode. Can anyone tell me that in Excel 2013, if i am calculating a workbook (which is in manual calculation mode) by pressing F9 (OR Ctrl + Alt + F9) - it will calculate the active workbook OR all the opened workbooks.
FYI - In excel 2010, it calculates all the open workbooks.
Hi Devasheesh –
Manual calculation shortcuts should work the same way in Excel 2013. There are a few options:
• F9: Calculates all worksheets in all open workbooks.
• Shift+F9: Calculates the active worksheet.
• Ctrl+Alt+F9: Calculates all worksheets in all open workbooks, regardless of whether they have changed since the last calculation.
• Ctrl+Alt+Shift+F9: Rechecks dependent formulas, and then calculates all cells in all open workbooks, including cells not marked as needing to be calculated.
Hope this helps!
Carlos Otero | Program Manager | Excel Team
I see that Devasheesh asked an off-topic question and it was not blocked, whereas mine was. So beit. There are MANY places I can discuss the issue I posted, if that is your wish.
Well honestly, for me, I can not see how you can *compare* spreadsheets in any detailed way in separate monitors. Sure, it's great if you want to have two unrelated spreadsheets visible -- perhaps 2 separate projects you're going back and forth between -- but for comparison the spreadsheets really have to be in the same monitor, where you can see the data simultaneously, with the sheets resized so that the relevant columns are very close. Separate monitors invite errors and a lot of eye strain. It's not an improvement for comparison purposes. Ask any proofreader. You have to have the 2 items in the same visual field, with as little eye movement as possible, and certainly no head movement.
Also, in the test version of Office 2013, I can't seem to get side by side to actually work side by side. It only works horizontally (I'd call it top-to-bottom), and it has 2 full office ribbons, one of them right in the middle just where you might want the rows very close to each other. It leaves, oh, only about 15 lines visible in each spreadsheet -- which is bad enough, because scrolling while proofing is very inefficient -- but they are so far apart that comparison is really hard. And besides, I can't find a vertical option, which is how I use side-by-side about 98% of the time. So synchronous scrolling becomes more or less unusable.
This single document interface renders real side by side -- using the Arrange Windows function -- more difficult than at present. If you have 3 spreadsheets side by side, each ribbon is massively compressed, and each quick access toolbar (so very important now that the ribbon is so sprawling) is also abbreviated. I have so many important functions and macros linked on the QAT.
Finally, I often have 12-15 programs open at once, often including 2 distinct instances of Excel (I need to keep text-to-column with space as a delimiter separate from instances with tab as a delimiter). I easily have 6-12 spreadsheets open at any given time, sometime more.
Windows' Alt-tab currently works very well because I keep all documents in all programs in MDI mode (except for Outlook emails, where I don't have a choice). Alt-tab will now become unusuable when it's full of individual spreadsheets and Word docs too.
So, Excel 2013 demolishes Alt-tab, it makes side-by-side only vaguely useful and only for really general comparisons, and it diminishes the great productivity enhancer, the QAT.
Can you not develop an Excel Light for light-to-moderate users, and keep an expert version of Excel for the folks who have to use it hour after hour every day? Adobe does Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. With each iteration of Excel I actually find new productivity roadblocks in the interface, sometimes small, sometimes not. The Big Grid is great, and there are few other tweaks I find useful. But for the most part I feel like the interface designers don't realize how much they are slowing down the expert users with these new directions.
Will we have the ability to open multiple excel files within an instance? For example, two instances open each with five files open in them? I do this currently by relaunching Excel and it works very well for the work I am doing.
Absolutely Mike. See some of my earlier comments (down below) on how to do that.
Hi David, thank you for your thoughts. It’s really helpful for us to hear how people use Excel, what’s useful, and what’s not so useful. You brought up several points, so I’ll try to address each one.
1. Compare Across Monitors, really? I’m with you. Multiple monitors is probably more for dashboarding multiple different workbooks rather than comparing across them. However, I don’t think that point detracts from the value of SDI though.
2. “Side by Side” with synchronous scrolling doesn’t seem to work. While the default is to stack them top to bottom (admittedly an awkward behavior for a feature called “side by side”), there is a way to get it working truly side by side. After you click “View side by side”, you can click “Arrange All” (on the same tab), and choose “Vertical” - - and the synchronous scrolling still works.
3. Ribbon takes up too much space: This was one of the more difficult trade-off decisions we had to make when implementing SDI. On the one hand, each ribbon takes up more space. Conversely, there are “local” ribbons (one per workbook window), forcing your mouse to travel less distance, which is especially nice in those dashboard/multi-monitor scenarios. But then there’s the problem of having less horizontal space to spread things out (as you point out, the QAT width is dramatically narrower. Again, a trade off we had to think hard about. One work around for taking up too much space in general would be to collapse the ribbons when working like this. We considered doing this by automatically when you compare workbooks, but we felt that this would be too jarring of an experience.
4. MDI mode with ALT + TAB: I think what you’re referring to is the setting that essentially collapses all your Excel windows into a single window icon in the ALT + TAB list. This isn’t the default setting, and isn’t very commonly used. While I feel your pain and I know there are others who work this way, I do believe the vast majority of people would be really confused if this became the default way things worked. One of our goals with SDI is to make Excel more approachable and understandable, by being more like Word and PowerPoint.
5. Excel “Lite”: I appreciate your idea here. We’ve tried things like this in the past, and people end up being confused about why the functionality is limited / different. My general design approach is that if we absolutely nail the design, then it’ll be approachable for beginner users, yet not cumbersome for the advanced users. Sometimes our designs are constrained by technology that’s out of our hands, so we simply have to do our best, and hope to make the right decision within those constraints.
Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, it’s valuable.
Hi, I've been automating Microsoft Excel since 1997 using VB & VBA to create 'Stand Alone' Excel products which use the power of Excel but keep the user on a fixed path via tightly controlled menus/ribbons. The introduction of a SDI threw all of this away as the user can now 'by-pass' the menus and Simpy click one of the workbooks now showing on the Taskbar. (Some workbooks should not be accessed by the user)
A workaround for this was for me to use the Windows("myWorkBook").visible = FALSE, great it hides the workbook from the Taskbar but unfortunately you can then not use the ACTIVEWORKBOOK object to refer to the hidden workbook.
I had one simple request during beta to eliminate ALL programmers problems with a SDI - still have programmatic access to the Application.DisplayWindowsInTaskBar option just for the life of the Excel Instant.
No-one obviously thought this through for those who have been championing Excel and developing full-blown application using the Excel Object.
#4 is exactly how I use Excel 2010 and the reason I won't be using 2013 anytime soon. I think you are about to discover just how many people use Excel this way ... and want it back.