How do I view two Excel spreadsheets at a time?

17 Sep

You’re looking at a spreadsheet and you want to compare it to another one. In Word, it’s easy to line up two separate documents side by side to look at them both. In Excel – not so easy. This article explains how you can view two Excel spreadsheets next to each other on your screen and compare the two spreadsheets easily (or more, if you want!). Next week, we’re looking at how to view two sheets from the same workbook side by side, too! This article is valid for Excel 2007, Excel 2010 and Excel 2013 to some extent. The problem doesn’t exist in Excel 2013 as you can move spreadsheets around just like you can in Word, however the options still exist for arranging your multiple views (thanks to Alison Lees for pointing out the resolution of the problem).

Why can’t I view two Excel files on the same screen?

If you’re used to working with Word, you’ll know that if you have two Word documents open in any version of Word, you can pick them both up by the top bar (I usually do it near to the name of the document), slide them across to the left and right until they ping back and fill half of the screen …

Two Word documents on one screen

… and end up with two documents next to each other (you can, of course, move the boundary between them to make one bigger and one smaller):

Two Word documents showing side by side

But, if you’ve ever tried to do this with two Excel spreadsheets, you’ll have found that you move one over …

Moving an excel spreadsheet

… and the other one moves to sit underneath it, inaccessible and impossible to view at the same time as, say, Spreadsheet 1:

Second spreadsheet hidden

Move Spreadsheet 2 across to the right and Spreadsheet 1 will follow it. Grrr!

I’m going to show you how you can view both (or even lots of) spreadsheets on the same screen, in various arrangements, and then return to viewing only one. And next week I’ll show you how you can view two sheets from one workbook side by side.

The quick way to view two spreadsheets side by side

We’re going to look at the View tab here. In the View tab, you’ll find a button labelled View Side by Side.

view side by side excel

If you have two spreadsheets open in, say, Excel 2010 (from which these screenshots are taken, but the process is the same for Excel 2007, 2010 and 2013), pressing this button will show you both spreadsheets, one above the other (this always reminds me of playing competitive driving games on the games console):

View side by side - result excel

You can see that the Synchronous Scrolling button is highlighted in the image above. This is a really useful function – if you have both spreadsheets lined up to start with (i.e. you can see Column A and Line 1 at the top left of both), if this button is showing in yellow, scrolling in one spreadsheet (the active one has the scroll bar) will move the other spreadsheet up and down or left and right at the same time:

view side by side synchronous scrolling

However, if you don’t want to use this feature, you can click on the Synchronous Scrolling button to turn it white, and then your two spreadsheets can be scrolled independently (the scroll bar still displays on the active spreadsheet, i.e. the one you’ve clicked on):

view side by side remove synchronous scrolling

Note that synchronous scrolling only works in this View Side by Side option, so if that’s important to you, choose this option.

But what if you want to view the sheets side by side, or more than two in a tiled layout (I’ve got a widescreen monitor so I always want to view side by side)? Read on for that option  …

How do I view two spreadsheets next to each other or in a tiled layout?

To view your multiple spreadsheets arranged next to each other, to swap to the horizontal view we just looked at, or to use the cascade option, stay in the View tab and the same area but click on the Arrange All button:

excel arrange all button

This will give you a range of options for displaying the spreadsheets that you currently have open:

excel arrange all button options

Let’s look at these in turn …

Arrange all – Tiled

If you have two spreadsheets open, the Tiled option in Arrange All will simply show them arranged vertically, i.e. next to each other. All of my other examples feature two spreadsheets, but to demonstrate the Tiled option, here are four spreadsheets:

excel arrange all Tiled option

Note that the spreadsheets arrange themselves in the order in which you have them open, so if Spreadsheet 4 is the last one you looked at, that will appear top left. You can expand and move the individual spreadsheets, then return to Arrange All – Tiled to click them back into position again.

Arrange all – Horizontal

If you choose the Horizontal option in Arrange All, your spreadsheets will appear on top of each other, with the split between them horizontal:

12 arrange all horizontal

Note here that I had Spreadsheet 2 active (visible) when I chose this option, so it appears at the top. To choose which one appears at the top, have that particular spreadsheet visible and active when you click on the Arrange All button.

Arrange All – Vertical

Choosing the Vertical option in Arrange All gives you the two (or more) spreadsheets arranged next to each other, with the split between them vertical:

excel arrange all vertical option

This is how I prefer to view them.

Arrange All – Cascade

I find this one a bit odd. When you choose the Cascade option in Arrange All, the windows containing the individual spreadsheets all appear on top of each other, with a little bit of one poking out from underneath the active one. Here, Spreadsheet 1 is just showing at the top, but if I click on Spreadsheet 1, Spreadsheet 2 will be sticking out at the bottom. It’s odd, but there must be a reason for it, or Excel wouldn’t offer it:

excel arrange all cascade option

How do I get back to viewing only one spreadsheet at a time?

If you want to return to a full-screen view of a particular spreadsheet, simply double-click on the title bar of your spreadsheet (by its name) and it will expand and be the only one visible:

excel return to single sheet view

In this article, we’ve learned how to view two or more Excel spreadsheets on the screen at the same time, and how to return to a single spreadsheet view.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful, please take a moment to share it using the buttons below!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Excel currently in use – Excel 2007, Excel 2010 and Excel 2013, all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Excel should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all the short cuts here … and view the blog resource guide here.


Posted by on September 17, 2014 in Excel, New skills, Short cuts


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35 responses to “How do I view two Excel spreadsheets at a time?

  1. amlees

    September 17, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Incidentally, in Office 2013, this problem is fixed. You can move two excel files around just like the Word example.


    • Liz at Libro

      September 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      Aha – that’ll teach me to assume that Office 2013 just makes things worse! Thanks for that, I have edited the article with a shout-out to you for letting me know.


  2. cafitzsimons

    September 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    I must be odd, because I always found Word’s method more frustrating than Excel’s (until I found out about Compare). Even so, it is sometimes useful to have two workbooks open in different windows – if you’re using dual monitors, for example. Here’s how to make it work with Office 2007/2010:
    – Open your first workbook as usual
    – Right click on the Excel icon in the task bar
    – Select ‘Microsoft Excel 2010’ (or whatever version you have) from near the very bottom of the list – beneath the line – to open a new Excel window
    – Open your second work book from within this window using the Office button (2007) or the File tab (2010) and Open (or selecting it from the list of recently used files)
    You can then see both sheets and move them around your desktop completely independently of each other.
    Just be aware that if you copy and paste between two spreadsheets that are open in different windows things sometimes behave in ways you might not expect – hidden columns reappear, formats might change and formulae may be pasted as values. As always, there is a logic behind what happens, but I think this is enough hijacking for now!


    • Liz at Libro

      September 17, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks for your comment – you can also use the New Window option for doing this, which is close to the Side By Side etc. options (and will be covered in more depth in my upcoming post on opening two sheets of a workbook and viewing them at the same time).


      • cafitzsimons

        September 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm

        Oh dear! I’m a dreadful pupil, always wanting to race ahead!
        Glad though that you’re giving a different solution next time so I’m not stealing your thunder.


        • Liz at Libro

          September 17, 2014 at 2:37 pm

          I can’t get it all in one post. You should see the millions I’m doing on spell check at the moment!


    • Sarah

      November 21, 2018 at 11:29 am

      Thank you for this!!!!


  3. vidushi

    February 20, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    I am doing the same thing in Microsoft excel 2013 to view two sheets in the same workbook horizontally. Unfortunately, even after the horizontal alignment with arrange all, I still can see two different workbooks opened and I cannot merge them in the main excel application. Could you please help me?


    • Liz Dexter

      February 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      Thank you for your question. This article is about viewing two spreadsheets at a time rather than about merging them, which is why the solution is not included or mentioned in the article. The feature you need is Consolidate. Click on the Data tab in Excel, then in the Data Tools section, you will find a button marked Consolidate. I did a quick Google and found out how to do that; I haven’t written about it myself yet, so you’re on your own from there, but that’s the area you need to be in. Hope that helps!


  4. Bill Burton

    March 13, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    I have two monitors and want to view two entirely different excel files at the same time – one one each monitor. I use excel 2007 & 2010.


  5. Hay Alles

    July 3, 2015 at 4:02 am

    I believe you miss what it is that the user wants. It used to be that you can open and view two worksheets on the screen easily. (Not side by side on the same worksheet or top..bottom.) But now, when you open two worksheets, one is on top of the other.
    But I found a way. First, open your first worksheet (1) you have already created the usual way. Second, go to your start button to access the excel program like opening a new worksheet. On this new worksheet, open your second already created worksheet you would like to look at with worksheet (1).


    • Liz Dexter

      July 3, 2015 at 6:19 am

      Thank you for your comment. To make it clear – of course I realise that what the user wants is to be able to view two spreadsheets in two different windows and be able to put them side by side, which is why I give instructions to do just that.


      • Audra

        August 25, 2015 at 4:06 pm

        How do you drag one screen to another screen, so you can view 2 open excel sheets at the same time, but on different screens?


        • Liz Dexter

          August 25, 2015 at 4:12 pm

          If you’ve got two excel sheets open in different windows at the same time (as in the instructions here), you should then just be able to use your normal method of taking one window to the other monitor.


  6. Kim

    August 31, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I have followed your steps (I work with Excel 2013), but somehow it won’t show it in one excel workfile. I opened 2 files within the same workfile, went to ‘view side by side’, but it then opens in two separate workfiles, with two headers and able to move them separately. This is NOT want I want. I don’t need to see all the options of colouring and stuff twice. I need two sheets within one file, seen side by side, horizontally or vertically. I was able to do this in older versions, but not in 2013 anymore. Can you help?


    • Liz Dexter

      September 4, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      Oh dear, that does sound odd. Have you tried tiling them or changing the arrangement? I suspect it thinks it’s being helpful in giving you separate headers for each.


  7. Peter

    September 9, 2015 at 6:05 am

    I use a lot of spread-sheets in my work and I have a problem that Excel opens each subsequent file tiled below the previously opened files.
    This means that I have to continually move the sheet up to ensure that I can see the tabs at the bottom of the spread-sheet.
    If I have say 5 sheets open, the tabs of the last sheet are not visible,
    How do I get Excel to open all sheets at the top of the screen and not in tiled view ?


    • Liz Dexter

      September 13, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      Thanks for your question – unfortunately as far as I know it always opens them all slightly overlapping so you can see how many you have and clock on the ones underneath – not helpful, I know.


  8. Gordon

    October 8, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    I am with Kim & Peter, Excel 2013 how do we have 4-5 worksheets in one worksheet. My screen is now filled up with 25% ++ of toolbars. Instead of going to one toolbar for formating I know have to unhide and view one for each worksheet.


  9. Mesfin

    October 29, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Previously opened MS word and excel documents will be hided and I see only the final one. how can I reset it?


    • Liz Dexter

      October 29, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Have you followed the instructions in the article, this should allow you to see both side by side or one above the other on your screen. If not, let me know what version of Word/Excel you’re using and on a PC or Mac.


  10. Graham

    February 1, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    We’re behind the times at our work. We’ve just moved off excel 2010 and into excel 2013. In my view lots of features are worse than before; the definition is less clear and the new feature with separate workbooks (and headers) is very confusing if you work with multiple books. You keep saving & editing the wrong workbook and the cascade feature where you could arrange all files in a nice stack (easy to see all the titles) has been lost – doesn’t work any more.


    • Liz Dexter

      February 2, 2016 at 10:05 am

      They’re always trying to “improve” things and it never feels like it does!


  11. Mark S

    June 9, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I just want to take a moment to say thank you for taking the time to post. I often Google solutions and people think I am a wizard because of awesome people like everyone here who help me look good (and intelligent). Figured I needed to finally recognize that and commend you all for contributing to this vast world of information with positive and GOOD solutions. I also just want to note that while I was searching for this solution, I already knew how to do Liz’s example, but the one I needed was cafitzsimons (Open through Excel from taskbar with right click). I guess it helps to actually type the correct search criteria and “words” that you mean (not what I typed). Thank you all for sharing!!!!!


    • Liz Dexter

      June 9, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Thank you so much, that’s a lovely thing to read! I often write about stuff I look for solutions to myself, but it’s good to know it helps other people, and I always appreciate comments thanking me (and my readers who contribute extra tips).


  12. Sushma

    July 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Thanks for this post Liz. This was exactly what I needed!


  13. Jorge Aleman

    January 23, 2017 at 12:18 am

    Thank you so much for this simple to understand post.


  14. Michael

    May 11, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    How do you do this with Excel 2016. If I have several worksheets open within the same workbook, they each have a ribbon. Just updated from 2013 to 2016. I want to have exactly the option above…one instance of Excel, several worksheets open at once, so only one ribbon at the top taking up screen space.



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