Bottom Line: Learn how to view and compare two worksheets in the same workbook with the New Window feature, split screen view, and synchronous scrolling.
Skill Level: Beginner
Make Comparisons Between Sheets Easier
Sometimes we need to flip back and forth between two worksheets in order to compare numbers, copy and paste entries, or create formulas. In these instances, it can be much easier to look at the two (or more) sheets side by side.
To accomplish this, we can use the New Window feature in Excel, as well as some desktop shortcuts to create a split screen view of the the sheets we want to look at simultaneously. It's a fairly easy habit to pick up and will save you lots of time and frustration in the long run.
Creating a New Window
We can view two or more sheets from the same workbook by using the New Window feature.
To make a new window, go to the View tab on the Ribbon and press the New Window button. This will create a new window of the active workbook (the workbook you were viewing when you pressed New Window).
The keyboard shortcut to open a new window is Alt + W + N.
Once you've created a new window, you can differentiate between the new and the old by looking at the title bar at the top. The new window will have a dash and the number 2 (then 3, 4, 5 and so on as you continue to open new windows).
Changes are Synced Between Windows
Keep in mind that you are NOT creating a duplicate file, just a new window to look at the same file. Any change you make to the workbook in one window will be reflected in the other. It does NOT matter which window you make changes in. All windows will be updated immediately.
Toggling Between Windows
You can now select a different sheet in the new window to view and edit it. You can then quickly flip between windows by using the Alt + Tab
keyboard shortcut. Hold Alt, then press and release Tab.
This is a very handy shortcut that makes it easy to flip between windows (sheets) when doing common actions like copy & paste.
Create a Split Screen View
To tile the windows side by side, you can simply click on the title bar and then drag the window to the right of the screen. If you have multiple windows open on your computer, you may have to select which window you want to view on the left.
I've written a whole post about tips for split screen usage for both Windows and Mac users. I encourage you to check it out and see how you can improve your productivity game with split screens.
Note: This behavior is slightly different in Excel 2010 and earlier. See the section below for details.
One cool feature to employ while using a split screen is that you can scroll both sheets at the same time. This is especially helpful if you need to compare line by line, looking for differences in similar sets of data.
To turn on synchronous scrolling, just go to the View tab on the Ribbon and choose the Synchronous Scrolling button.
The Synchronous Scrolling Button may be grayed out. If so, you need to turn on View Side by Side. You can do this by clicking the button directly above Synchronous Scrolling. Keyboard shortcut: Alt+W+B
When you click on View Side by Side, it tends to reset any split screen setup you already had, so you may need to drag your window to the right again to see them side by side.
Once your windows are side by side and you've clicked the Synchronous Scrolling button, you will see how both sheets scroll simultaneously. This is the case whether you are using the up and down arrows on your keyboard, the scroll bar in either of the windows, or the roller wheel on your mouse.
See the video above for more details on this issue.
And just so you know, you can also use Synchronous Scrolling with two different workbooks as well.
Closing the New Window
Once you are finished, you can simply close either of the windows by pressing the red X in the top right of the application window. This will just close the additional window, and NOT close the file. The “-2” will disappear after the file name and you will be left with only one window open for the file.
You will NOT be prompted to save the file when you close the additional window. You will only be prompted to save when you close the last remaining window for the file.
Close the “-2” Window First!
Even though you can close either window, it's best to close the “-2” window first. The new window does not retain the settings for gridlines or freeze panes. This is an unfortunate limitation of Excel.
If you close the “-1” window and then make changes to the workbook, you will lose the gridline and freeze pane settings that are applied to each sheet.
I posted a macro in the comment below that apples the gridline settings for each sheet to the new window. I'll do a dedicated post on this in the future.
And a big thanks to Andre for pointing out the issue with closing window “-2” first.
Excel 2010 and Earlier
If you're using Excel 2010 or earlier for Windows then the process for viewing multiple windows is slightly different.
These versions of Excel used the Multiple Document Interface (MDI). This means all Excel files/windows are opened in the same application window. Excel is able to display multiple documents.
You can view multiple windows within Excel by clicking the Restore button for the current window.
The Arrange All and View Side by Side buttons can still be used as well. That will be the same as the instructions above.
When you want to view a single window again you can click the Maximize button in any window.
Excel 2013 and beyond moved to a Single Document Interface (SDI), which is what I explained in the article above.
I hope this post has been helpful to you for learning how to create a new window and view two (or more) worksheets from the same workbook.
The full keyboard shortcut to setup the new window in split screen is:
This view can save us a lot of time when comparing data and tying out numbers between sheets.
Please leave a comment below with any questions or suggestions. Thank you! 🙂