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: Seeing All Open Workbook Names.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 23, 2018)
Excel allows you to open quite a few workbooks at the same time, depending on the amount of memory you have available on your system. For some people it is not unusual to have ten, fifteen, twenty, or more workbooks open, all at once.
Traditionally, the normal method used to switch from one workbook to another is to activate the Window menu, and then select the desired workbook from those displayed in the menu. If there are more than nine workbooks open, then Excel displays a menu option that says "More Windows," which you can select to display a list of all open workbooks. Selecting a workbook from this list ends up in that workbook being displayed.
If you routinely work with many open workbooks, it can be a pain to repeatedly click Window | More Windows and then select which workbook you want to view. It would be much easier if the workbooks were all listed, and if you could then select from the list. Unfortunately, Excel doesn't allow you to display more than nine workbooks in the Windows menu. (Nine seems to be a rather arbitrary number, but Microsoft had to set a limit somewhere. Nine is just as good as any other arbitrary limit.) There are, however, some workarounds you can use.
The first workaround is to simply make better use of the Windows Taskbar. First, configure Excel so that it displays a Taskbar button for every open workbook:
Now, as you open additional workbooks, Excel displays a Taskbar button for each workbook. That means that if you have twenty open workbooks, you will see twenty buttons on the Taskbar. Of course, each Taskbar button will be rather small, and you may not be able to make out the name of the workbook on each button. You can help mitigate this problem by simply making the Taskbar larger: Move the mouse pointer over the top border of the Taskbar. Click on the border and drag it upwards. This allows you to have two, three, or more rows designated for the Taskbar. Individual buttons will then be larger as they reorient themselves for the increased Taskbar room.
With the Taskbar enlarged and buttons available that correspond to each open workbook, there is no longer a need to even pull down the Window menu to switch from one workbook to another. All you need to do is click on the proper Taskbar button.
If you would rather not enlarge the Taskbar so it occupies additional rows, you can instead use the task-switching capabilities of Excel. Just hold down the Alt key as you repeatedly press the Tab key to switch from one window to another. When the desired workbook window is selected, release the Alt key and the actual workbook is displayed.
If you would rather not fiddle with the Taskbar or clutter it up with one button for each workbook, you will need to develop macros to display a list of workbooks, allow you to select one, and then switch among them. The most efficient way to do this is to create a UserForm and attach several macros to it. Follow these steps:
Private Sub ListBox1_Click() Windows(ListBox1.Value).Activate Unload Me End Sub Private Sub UserForm_Activate() Dim wkb As Workbook For Each wkb In Workbooks If Windows(wkb.Name).Visible Then _ ListBox1.AddItem wkb.Name Next End Sub
Sub AllWindows() UserForm1.Show End Sub
Once in Excel, you can assign the AllWindows macro to a toolbar button or to a menu item. When you then click on the button or choose the menu option, the UserForm is displayed, showing all the open workbooks. You can then select one, and the UserForm disappears and the selected workbook is displayed.
ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (2807) 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: Seeing All Open Workbook Names.
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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.