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)

5

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Drop-Down List Font Sizes

Excel has several features that cannot be customized. The font size in the drop-down lists is one of them. If you need make ...

Discover More

No More Custom Formats Can Be Added

If you make too many formatting changes to your workbook, you could end up with a situation where you cannot make any such ...

Discover More

Returning Blanks or Asterisks from a Lookup

Want to return more than a value when doing a lookup? Here's one way to do it by adding an IF clause to your formula.

Discover More

Program Successfully in Excel! John Walkenbach's name is synonymous with excellence in deciphering complex technical topics. With this comprehensive guide, "Mr. Spreadsheet" shows how to maximize your Excel experience using professional spreadsheet application development tips from his own personal bookshelf. Check out Excel 2013 Power Programming with VBA today!

More ExcelTips (menu)

Forcing a Workbook to Close after Inactivity

Tired of your workbooks being left open on the screen where they can be seen by anyone passing by? Here's a way to have Excel ...

Discover More

Turning Off Sharing

All good things must come to an end at some point. When you are done sharing your workbook with others, this is how you can ...

Discover More

Renaming a Workbook

Renaming a workbook from within Excel can seem daunting, but it is actually quite easy. All you need to do is use the Open ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 4 + 2?

2016-02-25 20:58:02

Ralph Santiago

In Excel 2013:
Just hold the "ALT" key, then right click your mouse on the excel icon on your taskbar and it will ask you if you would like to open a new file. When you have the new spread-sheet then you can open another file with the same name...


2015-07-01 04:04:17

kevin

Hi there,
I am having this error message when I just try to open any excel workbook.
I mean I am not trying to open same two files. After log on to OS trying to open the first excel and viola. Getting that error too.

Tried to repair Office 2013 but I got same error.

What would be the solution or fix for me?


2015-05-30 11:03:17

James Jenkins

With respect to opening and working on two different Excel Workbooks with the same name at the same time, I have a solution that is working for me.

I have multiple versions of Excel installed on my computer. I just open one workbook in one version and one in the other.

Considering that the Excel addin software solutions I develop and market to a niche science community are supposed to function properly with Excel 2007SP3, 2010 & 2013, I have all three Excel versions currently installed on a single computer. This allows for quick compatibility testing when making changes to the VBA Project code.

CAUTION: Running more than one version of Excel on a computer comes with some issues that you have to work around, such as which one opens when you click on a file. But with a little research, you can run multiple Excel Versions at the same time, and keep your preferences in place.


2014-07-01 13:07:44

Rob

I know it's 2 years later but in response to King Wiemann's comment. That doesn't seem possible. Once you copy something from Excel it's in the windows clipboard so it can be pasted into another copy of Excel.

I just tried it by opening 2 Excels and typing something in a cell. I then copied that cell and pasted it into a cell in the other copy of Excel and it pasted fine.


2012-07-16 15:06:45

King Wiemann

I haven't tried this lately, but the last time I have attempted this, having 2 separate sessions of Excel means you can't copy and paste between them. You can compare the 2 files side by side, but you can't move content between them.


This Site

Got a version of Excel that uses the menu interface (Excel 97, Excel 2000, Excel 2002, or Excel 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Excel, visit our ExcelTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in ExcelTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.