How to Use Windows 7/8 and Excel 2010 on Multiple Monitors: Windows 7/8, Taskbar Shortcuts, and More

Update: Starting with Excel 2013, Excel supports multiple document windows like Microsoft Word & PowerPoint so these power tips are no longer needed!  Also, these tips work well for Windows 8 & Excel 2010.

Alright, so you’ve got your workbook open, but now you would like to have another one up on the screen right alongside it. Or, maybe you want to have that second one over on one of your other screens (lucky you!). Well, here’s the thing; no matter what you do to get that second book opened up, Excel is going to use the already running instance to open it. Sure, you can maximize the application, and then reduce each of the two books, then [Drag] each book…nevermind! We want to work smart, and Windows 7 lets us do just that with a little help from the new taskbar features.

Pinning Excel

The first thing we’re going to do to make our lives easier is pin Excel to the taskbar. If you’re doing a lot of work with Excel, you’ve probably already done this. Great! If not, it’s very easy to do:

  1. Run Excel.
  2. [Right Click] Excel Icon, or Excel Icon Taskbar in the taskbar, then select PIN THIS PROGRAM TO TASKBAR.

Positioning Excel on the Taskbar

Now that you’ve got Excel on the taskbar, we need to make sure it’s in a position that’s suitable for using the Windows 7 taskbar shortcuts we are going to need. That is, we want to have Excel pinned between the first and tenth position. To do this, simply [Drag] Excel’s taskbar icon from right to left until you’ve got in the desired position, within the first and tenth spot.

Windows 7 Taskbar Example

Using Windows 7 Taskbar & Keyboard Magic

With a little help from our friend Windows 7, we can now operate Excel like all the other Office applications that support one window per document (also known as Single Document Interface; Excel is an MDI, or Multiple Document Interface application). Here’s the magic:

  • To launch Excel, press <Windows-Number>, where number corresponds to Excel’s position on the taskbar. In our example image, that is position 7.
  • To toggle through multiple open workbooks, hold down <Windows>, then press <Number> repeatedly.

Excel Multiple Document Interface (MDI)

  • To start another instance of Excel (required to use Excel across multiple monitors, or to use the screen position shortcuts), press <Windows-Shift-Number>.
  • To place an instance of Excel on the right half of the screen, or the left half of the screen, select the instance, then press <Windows-RightArrow>, or <Windows-LeftArrow>.
  • To move an instance of Excel one screen right, or one screen left when using multiple monitors, select the instance, then press <Windows-Shift-RightArrow>, or <Windows-Shift-LeftArrow>.

That’s it! With a few keystrokes we’ve managed to get Excel to open up workbooks in their own windows, and move them around quickly, and easily. Even across multiple monitors!


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