Sunday, October 26, 2008

Stupid (but handy) Excel Trick

I use Excel a lot at work.  I mean a LOT.

Usually I am content to just find the Excel file I am interested in and just double-click to launch.

However, there are times when I want to work on multiple Excel files in different Excel Windows.

Normally when you open Excel then open another document, they are shared in the same Excel Window.  Yes I know you can change that behavior, but that normally is a good thing.

Say when you want to copy cells with over 255 text characters in them.  Keeping them in the same Excel window session allows copy of the full amount.  Copying between separate Excel session Windows clips them at 255 length.  I can’t tell you how aggrivating it was until I figured that “trick” out.

Anyway, like I was saying, sometimes I want to open a second Excel window when I already have one open.  So normally what I do is just go to my Excel desktop shortcut and launch a new session that way.  Only problem is that opens a blank spreadsheet in the window by default, which I then have to close and then drag/drop the one I want to open into it.

Wouldn’t it be nice—thought I—if I could just open Excel without launching a blank spreadsheet?

Well, you can!

All you need to do is modify your Excel program shortcut as follows:

  1. Browse to the main Excel.exe program file.  Mine was located at C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\EXCEL.EXE
  2. Send that file to your desktop as a shortcut.
  3. Go into the Properties of that shortcut and find the target line.
  4. Add a /e to the end of the Target line path like this: "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\EXCEL.EXE" /e
  5. Apply the change.
  6. Launch the icon and enjoy!

I know it is stupid but it really saves me a bunch of click-time.

Other Excel resources:

Description of the startup switches for Excel – Microsoft Help and Support

When I double-click an Excel spreadsheet, Excel opens but the document doesn’t – The New Old Thing blog.

On a side-note, I really have enjoyed the quirky programing-slanted blog The Old New Thing.  There are a handful of programming blogs that I follow, even though I am not a programmer.  I find the discussions mentally stimulating and every now and then a real obscure gem appears that is dead-useful for Windows support.  The Old New Thing blog has been an enjoyable mix of code-mindedness and other non-pc stuff.  Check it out.

--Claus V.

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