Excel: Arrange Windows to See Two or More Open Workbooks

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Problem: I have two workbooks open. One workbook contains a list of airport codes and their respective cities. In the other workbook, I am building a list of recommended packing items for students going on a seven-city tour. Currently, I am shifting back and forth between the workbooks, using Ctrl+Tab every time I forget an airport code. It would be cool if I could see both workbooks at once.

Strategy: Select View, Arrange All. The Arrange Windows dialog will appear, giving you four Arrange options. Select Vertical and click OK to see the two workbooks side by side.

  1. Arrange open workbooks in vertical windows.

    Results: You will see both windows, side by side. One window is the active window (look for the non-greyed out X icon in top right). Any data entry will occur in the active cell of that workbook.

    You can resize the window widths by hovering your mouse at the right edge of the left workbook. The cell pointer changes to a two-headed horizontal arrow. Click and drag the edge of the left window until you have the proper width.

    Repeat for the left edge of the right workbook.

    To go back to full screen mode, click the Maximize icon at the top of both workbooks.

    Gotcha: If you have additional workbooks open, they will also appear side by side. The side-by-side display works fine for 2 or 3 workbooks but would not work for 20 open workbooks because each workbook would be too narrow to see

    Additional Details: Starting in Excel 2003, a new command makes it possible to scroll two open workbooks simultaneously. You use the View Side by Side icon on the View tab of the ribbon.

    Gotcha: If you are comparing two workbooks that are supposed to be similar, it is likely that someone added some rows to one workbook or the other. When you initially turn on View Side by Side, the workbooks will be synchronized so that when you see row 150 in the first workbook, you will see row 150 in the second workbook. However, if someone inserted 10 rows in the original workbook, you might need row 150 of the original workbook to line up with row 140 of the second workbook. Follow these steps to correct the problem:

    1. In the View tab of the ribbon, turn off Synchronous Scrolling by clicking the second icon.
    2. Press the Down Arrow key until row 140 is at the top of the left window. In the right window, press the Down Arrow key until row 150 is at the top of that window.
    3. Choose the Synchronous Scrolling icon again to force the workbooks to scroll together. Now, when you move down in either workbook, both workbooks will scroll together.