Tricks for Opening and Closing Multiple Excel Files
By David H. Ringstrom, CPA
From time to time you may find yourself immersed in a large project that involves several related Excel workbooks. In such cases it can be tedious to manually open each Excel file when you need everything available at once. Excel has long had a helpful feature that is hidden in plain sight: the Save Workspace command. This command creates a bookmark file with an .XLW extension that you can use to automatically open a group of related spreadsheets. In this article I'll explain Excel's Workspace feature, as well as how to close all open worksheets at once while still leaving Excel open.
A workspace is comprised of whatever spreadsheets are open at the time that you issue the Save Workspace command:
- Excel 2007: Choose Save Workspace in the Window section of the View ribbon.
- Excel 2003 or earlier: Choose Save Workspace on the File menu.
In either case, after making the menu choice, you're presented with a traditional Save dialog box from which you can choose where to save your workspace file. Excel 2007 will prompt you to save each file within the workspace, while Excel 2003 and earlier won't prompt you until you close an individual file within the workspace.
To reopen your workspace, you can either choose the .XLW file from your Recently Used file list, or open the file manually:
- Excel 2007: Click the Office button, choose Open, and then select the .XLW file.
- Excel 2003 or earlier: Choose File, Open, and then select the .XLW file.
You can further refine your search in any version of Excel. To do so, choose Workspaces (.XLW) from the Files of Type list, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Workspaces (.XLW files) display in the list of available files when you issue the Open command, but you can also filter the list to only show Workspace files.
Excel 2007 Trick: Click the pushpin next to your .XLW file to lock your workspace onto the Recently Used File List. It may shift down the list as you open other spreadsheets, but it won't scroll off the list as long as its pushpin is depressed.
Figure 2: Click the pushpin to lock a workspace onto your Excel 2007 Recently Used File List.
Closing All Files at Once
Sometimes during the day you need to clear the decks of all open files, but leave Excel open. You can certainly close each file individually, but versions through and including Excel 2003 had a far easier way to perform this task: Hold down the Shift command before you click on the File menu. As shown in Figure 3, the Close command changes to Close All, which enables you to close all open workbooks at once. Although the Shift key trick doesn't work in Excel 2007, you can actually create your own custom shortcut:
- Right-click anywhere on the Excel 2007 ribbon, and then choose Customize Quick Access Toolbar.
- Choose Commands Not in the Ribbon from the Choose Commands From List, and then add Close All to your Quick Access toolbar.
- Optionally move the Close All command to the top of your Quick Access Toolbar list, as shown in Figure 4, and then click OK.
If you moved the Close All command to the top of your list, you can now press Alt-1 to issue the Close All command whenever you wish. As shown in Figure 5, the shortcut code for every button on the Excel 2007 interface is revealed when you press the Alt key.
Figure 3: Hold down the shift key before you choose the File menu in Excel 2003 or earlier to display the Close All command.
Figure 4: You can add a Close All command to your Excel 2007 Quick Access Toolbar.
Figure 5: Shortcut keys for every button on the Excel 2007 ribbon appear when you press the Alt key once.
David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at email@example.com  or follow him on Twitter . David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link .