Opening an excel file opens a separate instance

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  1. Posts : 281
    Windows 10 x64 1809 LTSC
       #1

    Opening an excel file opens a separate instance


    I recently reinstalled Windows and Office.
    Now when I open excel then open a spreadsseet instead of opening the file in the current instance as it has always done it opens it in a new instance of excel.

    I had this problem once before, but for the life of me I can't remember what I did to fix it and I can't find anything on search engines about it. I did find a M$ doc that explains how to force it to use a new instance each time, but I've checked and that registry value is not set.

    To be clear, I open excel 2016 it opens to a blank workbook. I open a file and excel opens the new file in a new instance, leaving the blank work book open. I want it to open the file in the current instance.

    Any ideas?
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  2. Berton's Avatar
    Posts : 12,257
    Win10 Version 21H2 Pro and Home, Win11 Pro
       #2

    I've seen the same with various programs and it seemed to be happening when a program is open then the file is double-clicked in File Explorer instead of using File, Open or the toolbar folder icon in the program, File Explorer doesn't know the file is already open and gets a second instance of the program open. The file management inside programs are pretty much a mini/slimmed down iteration of File Explorer.
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  3. Posts : 281
    Windows 10 x64 1809 LTSC
    Thread Starter
       #3

    The problem occurs when using File > Open in Excel.

    Scenario: When I open Excel it opens with a blank work book.
    Then File > open > select file > opens in new instance.

    If I open from File Explorer it works fine, because excel is not open and it will only open the one instance.

    Anyway, I think I may have found a way around it.
    Delete all file history
    Delete all place history
    Close excel
    End the MS Office Software Protection Platform Service
    Open File via explorer (double click xlsx file)
    Close excel
    Open Excel (blank workbook)
    Open File via excel - Opens in same instance.

    I'll keep an eye on it over the next couple of days.
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  4. jimbo45's Avatar
    Posts : 11,057
    Windows / Linux : Arch Linux
       #4

    Hi there
    I think in some recent W10 (and W11) updates there were some known defects with File explorer - which is quite a key part of the OS too (task management for launching applications etc).

    Ensure your OS is up to date - you shouldn't need to re-install office again. If your OS is seriously broken then probably a re-install (clean) is your best bet if you don't have a working backup.

    Remember when you take backups - always keep one available of the last complete working version even if it's an update or two behind. -- if you've got an OS with an obvious defect then it's OK to back it up but note it as having a defect so you can restore and apply update when problem is fixed. I'd think if you are a frequent EXCEL user that defect would have appeared pretty quickly !!! so that would have been the time to restore your working version.

    Cheers
    jimbo
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  5. Posts : 281
    Windows 10 x64 1809 LTSC
    Thread Starter
       #5

    Thanks Jimbo.

    I don't think I've seen a clean bug-free update from M$ for many, many years.

    But one thing I can tell you for sure - I NEVER keep my systems up to date. All updates are tested for 60 days on my test PC before being rolled out to the production PCs. All updates are managed via WSUS and all PCs can get updates only from the WSUS server.

    This gives M$ a chance to re-release the patches with fixes. Of course, if some life altering virus were to come along that needed an emergency patch, I'd consider that.

    I take two images of each PC each day and two data backups each day. These occur transparently to the users. Images and data backups are kept for 35 days per PC.

    PCs are refreshed typically once a year. 5 image backups are taken during the refresh at different points for targeted recovery points. These are kept until after next years refresh. The entire refresh process which basically gives the user back the PC in the same state they left it (except with updated programs), takes about 3 hours.

    No programs are updated between major versions except as part of that refresh cycle. A refresh is a fresh install from scratch. In place updates are not allowed. Things like a browser updates from 91.1.0esr to 91.2.0esr (minor updates), are allowed and are rolled out through a central facility once they have been tested. But an update from 78esr to 91esr would only occur during that annual refresh.

    The downside of this strategy is that since I was doing the annual refresh of this PC, going back to the "last known good" would be pointless, since this refresh contained many application and Windows updates. The issue was that I missed this in testing, so it's been added to my test script.

    Anyway, none of this has anything to do with the issue I had. The solution for that was to simply open an excel file from explorer before attempting to open one via excel. It's a bizarre solution, and I don't know why it worked. I hope you're right and it is a transient issue with M$'s recent updates.

    The PC was refreshed on 21st November. The issue was detected on the 23rd November. In terms of world turning it was not a major issue. If it was I would have done as you said and reverted to the last known good backup from the previous day.

    I had removed the excel file and excel place registry branches, but after more testing I found this was not necessary.
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  6. AndreTen's Avatar
    Posts : 26,025
    Windows 10 (Pro and Insider Pro)
       #6

    Wobitancrawfodi said:
    I recently reinstalled Windows and Office.
    Now when I open excel then open a spreadsseet instead of opening the file in the current instance as it has always done it opens it in a new instance of excel.

    I had this problem once before, but for the life of me I can't remember what I did to fix it and I can't find anything on search engines about it. I did find a M$ doc that explains how to force it to use a new instance each time, but I've checked and that registry value is not set.

    To be clear, I open excel 2016 it opens to a blank workbook. I open a file and excel opens the new file in a new instance, leaving the blank work book open. I want it to open the file in the current instance.

    Any ideas?
    Why don't you select the file you want to open at the start? Does Excel starts directly with the blank workbook?

    Then go to options / General and at the button check Show the Start screen ...
    Opening an excel file opens a separate instance-image.png
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  7. Posts : 281
    Windows 10 x64 1809 LTSC
    Thread Starter
       #7

    Yes it opens with a blank workbook. Always has, at least since Office 97.

    I don't want to show the start screen. That shows some recent files and a selection of excel templates. Not what I want. I was trying to get back the behavior I had for the last 20 years. Excel starts with blank worksheet, open a file and it opens in the same instance.

    I don't want to open with a specific file. I have maybe 25 spreadsheets I work with regularly. If I opened a specific file at start up (which is not what the start screen does), I would likely have to close it and open the file I do want to work with.
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  8. AndreTen's Avatar
    Posts : 26,025
    Windows 10 (Pro and Insider Pro)
       #8

    Wobitancrawfodi said:
    Yes it opens with a blank workbook. Always has, at least since Office 97.

    I don't want to show the start screen. That shows some recent files and a selection of excel templates. Not what I want. I was trying to get back the behavior I had for the last 20 years. Excel starts with blank worksheet, open a file and it opens in the same instance.

    I don't want to open with a specific file. I have maybe 25 spreadsheets I work with regularly. If I opened a specific file at start up (which is not what the start screen does), I would likely have to close it and open the file I do want to work with.
    You can pin your favorite files to start screen.

    Sorry to hear that there is no real solution for you. On the other hand, I would not want to let Excel open a new file instead of existing one by default (blank spreadsheet is a new file). Could be causing you to lost your data (overwrite a file)...

    How do you start Excel? Clicking on desktop icon, from Start menu, or from Taskbar?

    Right clicking on Excel icon is giving you a list of most used files
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  9. Posts : 281
    Windows 10 x64 1809 LTSC
    Thread Starter
       #9

    AndreTen said:
    You can pin your favorite files to start screen.
    I didn't know that. Thanks for the tip

    AndreTen said:
    Sorry to hear that there is no real solution for you.
    On the contrary, I feel there was a solution. It was just a matter of opening an office file from explorer by double clicking it. After that all subsequent opening in excel, word etc opened in the same instance. Perhaps this is an explorer bug? It hasn't always been that way, but in hindsight it was a simple fix. I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to think of it.

    AndreTen said:
    On the other hand, I would not want to let Excel open a new file instead of existing one by default (blank spreadsheet is a new file). Could be causing you to lost your data (overwrite a file)...
    I don't think I've ever had an issue. Saving a blank spreadsheet saves it as "book1.xlsx". One would have to be careless to give a blank workbook the name of an existing file.

    I find it advantageous to open to a blank worksheet for those times when I do actually want to create a new spreadsheet. And if I want to open an existing file, well, it's only a click away.

    But what's tugging at the back of my mind now is that in all my time in I.T. that's the way it's been. I've never seen it any other way. And now I find myself wondering is there a different scenario that people experience?

    AndreTen said:
    How do you start Excel? Clicking on desktop icon, from Start menu, or from Taskbar?
    I have it pinned to the stat menu so I click start, then excel.

    AndreTen said:
    Right clicking on Excel icon is giving you a list of most used files
    No, right clicking on the start menu icon just brings up a generic context menu.
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  10. AndreTen's Avatar
    Posts : 26,025
    Windows 10 (Pro and Insider Pro)
       #10

    Wobitancrawfodi said:
    I didn't know that. Thanks for the tip


    On the contrary, I feel there was a solution. It was just a matter of opening an office file from explorer by double clicking it. After that all subsequent opening in excel, word etc opened in the same instance. Perhaps this is an explorer bug? It hasn't always been that way, but in hindsight it was a simple fix. I'm embarrassed that it took me so long to think of it.


    I don't think I've ever had an issue. Saving a blank spreadsheet saves it as "book1.xlsx". One would have to be careless to give a blank workbook the name of an existing file.

    I find it advantageous to open to a blank worksheet for those times when I do actually want to create a new spreadsheet. And if I want to open an existing file, well, it's only a click away.

    But what's tugging at the back of my mind now is that in all my time in I.T. that's the way it's been. I've never seen it any other way. And now I find myself wondering is there a different scenario that people experience?



    I have it pinned to the stat menu so I click start, then excel.


    No, right clicking on the start menu icon just brings up a generic context menu.
    Think this behavior is the same for the last 5-7 or so years, maybe even more. Not sure anymore. I have adapt to this changes, and it comes naturally to me, but I usually open the file from Explorer.. open existing file, and then change it and save under different name.

    About giving the list of last opened files - that is behavior if you pin the icon to Taskbar. You can pin some files, and have most used below. This is my 2nd choice of starting programs

    Opening an excel file opens a separate instance-image.png
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