Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Opening Two Workbooks with the Same Name.

Opening Two Workbooks with the Same Name

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 27, 2015)

It is not unusual to have two workbooks, located in different folders, that have the same name. For instance, you could have two folders, one named "Year 2011" and another named "Year 2012." Both folders could contain a workbook file named Budget.xls.

Opening one of the Budget files in Excel is easy. If you try to open the second Budget file while the first is already open, Excel will generate an error. It does this because many of the internal functions used by Excel don't rely on a full path name for their operation, but instead look at only the name of the workbook. Having two workbooks open with the same name would cause these internal functions to become confused. The solution—don't let Excel open the second file that has the same name.

There are a couple of ways around this, however. The first (and obvious) workaround is to rename one or both of the workbook files. In the example above, you could name one file Budget2011.xls and the other Budget2012.xls. With different names, the workbooks will open just fine.

The second workaround is to just open a second instance of Excel. In other words, when you want to open the second Budget file, don't do it by choosing Open from within the program. Instead, use the Windows Start menu to start another copy of Excel. Because of the way that memory and programs are handled by Windows, neither copy of Excel is aware of the other. Thus, you could open the different Budget files (each with the same name) in each of the instances of Excel.

There is one potential glitch if you open a second instance of Excel. If there are workbooks that are automatically opened when Excel starts (such as Personal.xls), then you may see a warning or error message when you start the second instance of Excel. In most cases this won't cause any problem—at least it doesn't with Personal.xls. If you have other workbooks that are automatically opened, you will need to do some testing to see if there are any problems evident. (Potential problems can vary, depending on the content and programming inherent in the workbooks being automatically opened.)

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2222) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Opening Two Workbooks with the Same Name.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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