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Working with Multiple Files

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and FrontPage enable you to open more than one file at a time. Access does not, and you can't open multiple files directly by using the New File task pane. To open multiple files using the common dialog boxes, follow these steps:

  1. In the New File task pane, click More Documents. Equivalently, you can press Ctrl+O or choose File, Open to display the Open dialog box.

  2. Hold down the Ctrl key and click to select multiple filenames.

  3. Click the Open button or press Enter to open all selected files.

To open multiple files from an Explorer window, hold down the Ctrl key and click each icon; then right-click and choose Open.

You can also open any file by dragging its icon from an Explorer window into an Office program window. When you drag an Excel or PowerPoint icon from an Explorer window into an open program window, Office opens the new file in its own window. On the other hand, if you drop a Word icon into an open document window, Word assumes that you want to insert the file at the point where you dropped it. The same thing happens if you drop a Web page icon into a FrontPage window in which you're editing another Web page. To open the document or Web page in a new window instead, drop the icon onto the title bar of the Word or FrontPage program window.

In Office XP, each new data file gets its own button on the Windows taskbar, and you can switch between document windows the same way you switch between programs.

Unfortunately, Office's techniques for handling multiple document windows are wildly inconsistent among applications. Unless you change its default behavior (see the following tip), each Word document exists in its own window; there's no way to display two or more Word documents in the same window, and closing one Word document has no effect on other windows. Excel and PowerPoint, on the other hand, enable you to rearrange document windows within a single program window, and if you click the Close (X) button on an Excel or PowerPoint window, you close all open workbooks or presentations.


You can have Word put multiple documents inside its window like the other Office applications do (the so-called "multiple-document interface"). With Word in this condition, you can, for example, choose Window, Arrange All to have multiple documents appear inside Word without multiple copies of the menus and toolbars hanging around cluttering up the screen. To do so, choose Tools, Options; on the View tab, clear the box marked Windows in Taskbar. Unfortunately, when you do this, individual documents no longer appear in the Windows taskbar.

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