When Microsoft introduced Windows XP, we got a new very useful function — the Quick Launch Bar.
With the ability to add Shortcuts to the Quick Launch Bar, we gained the ability for one-click startup of our frequently used programs.
Some of the most common Shortcuts on, or added to, the Quick Launch Bar included Internet Explorer, Windows Explorer, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.
When we wanted to open a program, one click on its icon on the Quick Launch Bar would open it.
Sometimes, you could click on the icon to open a second (or third…) instance (window) of that program. Strangely, some programs didn’t behave the same way as others did, even when they were related.
Clicking on the Excel icon wold open a new instance of Excel, even if there was already one open. Clicking on the Word icon a second time would open another instance of Word. But PowerPoint wouldn’t open a second window.
Why might you want a second window? They’re really handy when you want to have two spreadsheets open at the same time, so that you can copy or look up data in one, as you make changes in the other.
When Windows 7 (and perhaps Vista, although I didn’t ever have it) came along, Microsoft changed the function of a click on the quick launch bar.
Well, more accurately, they merged the Quick Launch Bar into the Task Bar. Unfortunately, that meant that some of the functions had to change.
With Windows 7, you can "pin" a shortcut to the Task Bar. Then, a click on the shortcut will open the application. A second click won’t open a second instance of the application, though. The second click hides the applicaiion’s window. A third click will display the window again.
Word always opens a new document as a separate Window, whether you are using Word 2003, Word 2007 or Word 2010.. PowerPoint still doesn’t open in multiple windows, regardless of the version. The real frustration is Excel, where the change affects the user.
If you use Excel via its Menu Bar, clicking on File > New menu will give you a new spreadsheet workbook within the current Excel instance. This is consistent in Excel 2003, 2007 and 2010.
As noted before, clicking on the Excel icon on the Task Bar will open a spreadsheet, if there is not open already open.
Hovering over the Excel Icon, if there is one or more open Excel windows, will show you an image of the spreadsheet in each, so you can pick which one you want.
Clicking on the icon (as opposed to one of the spreadsheet images) will toggle the Excel window to hide or be displayed.
So, how can you open a new instance of Excel in Windows 7? The key is to use a shortcut that is not on the Task Bar. There’s also a Task Bar trick.
If you have an open Excel window and click on the Excel entry in All Programs, it will open a new Excel instance — an independent Excel window.
If you have an open Excel window and have an Excel shortcut icon on your Windows Desktop and double-click it, it will open a new Excel instance — an independent Excel window.
But, if you have an open Excel window and double-click a shortcut to an Excel file, it won’t open a new instance — it will open the worksheet in the open Excel instance. If you’ve got more than one open, then it opens in the most recently selected one.
The trick to opening an additional Windows instance with the Task Bar is to right-click on the Excel icon that’s on the Task Bar. Then, select the line that ways Microsoft Excel.