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How to View Excel 2010 Spreadsheets Side-by-Side for Comparison

view excel spreadsheets side by sideSo, you’d like to open up two versions of an .xlsx spreadsheet to compare differences row-by-row. Seems simple, right? Just open them both up in separate windows and then arrange the two windows side-by-side. Just kidding, it’s not that easy. For some reason, Excel spreadsheets all open in the same application window, which is totally contrary to the way Microsoft Office handles Word documents. Never fear—there’s a way to compare two Excel spreadsheets side-by-side without using two computers.

Step 1

Open the first Excel spreadsheet.

show two excel spreadsheets separate windows

Step 2

Open the second Excel spreadsheet. You’ll notice that there are now two taskbar buttons for Excel. But no matter which one you click, it pops up in the same window. Frustrating!

two excel spreadsheets same window

Step 3

In Excel, Click the View tab.

view options excel spreadsheets office 2010

Step 4

In the Window section, Click View Side by Side. By default, this will show your two Excel spreadsheets in separate panes, stacked horizontally.

excel 2010 view side by side

Step 5

To change the orientation, Click Arrange All. Choose Vertical to have them side-by-side, with one in a left-hand column and the other in the right-hand column.

xlsx xls side by side

This is how I prefer to view my spreadsheets.

microsoft excel spreadsheet next to each other

Step 6

Click Synchronous Scrolling. Now, when you scroll down on one window, the other will scroll down, too, making it even easier to compare differences.

synchronized scrolling with ms office 2010 excel

Got it? Good. Now get back to work. I need the Johnson Report on my desk by 4PM!

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38 Responses to How to View Excel 2010 Spreadsheets Side-by-Side for Comparison

  1. Helpjas May 17, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Phew!!!! i was looking for this for a long time..
    Thanks a lot for posting this.. :)

    • Cindy Turner September 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

      I still don’t like it. I want what I used to have – easy ability to bring up two spreadsheets as I use multiple screens, this is painful!

    • les June 23, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

      Simple but brilliant, Thankyou :)

  2. heymchr May 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    If you really want to have each spreadsheet open in its own window in Excel 2010 (just like Word for docs), this trick works:

    Run regedit.exe. First, browse to ‘HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.8\shell\Open’ and go through the steps below. Second, browse to ‘HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Excel.Sheet.12\shell\Open’ and go through the steps below again.

    1. Rename the ‘ddeexec’ folder to ddeexec.bk – or just delete it, it’s up to you.
    2. Open the ‘command’ folder.
    3. Edit the ‘Default’ string and replace the /e or /dde with “%1″.
    4. Edit the ‘command’ string and replace the /e or /dde with “%1″.

    • Sam May 23, 2012 at 8:07 am #

      You are a god

    • Will June 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      Thank you so much. You made my life so much easier.

      • Steve Krause June 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

        Thanks for the feedback Will and welcome to groovypost!

  3. K.G. November 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    heymchr’s note above works GREAT!! BUT – be sure to put in the QUOTE marks on each side of the %1 (yes, it does include the quote marks, not just what is inside the quote marks). Good stuff!

  4. fytos February 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Or you can just get office CLASSIC MENUS and do the above and a lot more just like in office 2003!!
    I installed the clssic menus for 2007, works fine with 2010 and I can find my menus when the icons in 2010 don’t help me.

  5. thank you March 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    I will gladly buy you a cheeseburger!!! thanks!

    (frustrating an understatement…)

  6. rich April 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Or, if you want each sheet in it’s own seperate excel window so you do things like snap them next to each other.
    open excel and open sheet 1
    open excel again and open sheet 2

    • vivek September 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

      that works. no need of going into registry. thanks.

  7. Jasmine April 20, 2012 at 4:20 am #

    Abyone knows how to view side by side with MAC?? It’s driving me crazy!! Thanks

  8. tawazzile August 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    THANKS MAN IT WORKED

    • Steve Krause August 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Awesome! Glad the article helped you out.

      Welcome to groovypost!

  9. eternatie950 August 30, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Thank you! You saved my day!

  10. Tigrana September 7, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    groovy indeed! : )

  11. D. October 17, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

    This was SO helpful!! You literally saved me hours. Bless you!

  12. MAC... :) :( December 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    I recently got a MAC, and I never realised how much I’d miss this feature! Does any know how to do it on MAC

  13. Horace February 27, 2013 at 6:23 am #

    Thanks, man.

  14. K.G. February 27, 2013 at 6:35 am #

    Looks like Office 2013 Excel DOES keep the two spreadsheets separately (each in their own window) = good stuff!!

  15. SidebySide March 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    I want to view in two different windows. WHy can I not open two excel spreadsheets and view them on different computer screens side by side. Excel used to allow this and now can only be done within one excel window versus two. This and many other frustrating things with the new excel version. Why can’t they just leave well enough alone.

    • K.G. March 29, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

      Excel 2013 does have the spreadsheets open up in completely different windows, just like Word Doc does….

  16. Dee Bjelke April 6, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    Thank you for the rescue! Jeez!

  17. littlebluefuzzy May 15, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Oh my God, Jack, thank you for posting this… my “side by side” view that was horizontal was making me crazy. I can now resume normal Wednesday stress.

  18. Jennifer May 16, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    Praise the Lord for your post. I was seriously struggling!

  19. HRABX June 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    I do not have the permissions to edit registry but these steps worked for Excel 2010 on Windows 7

    1) Double-click the first excel file to open
    2) go to the start menu and select excel from the program list *
    3) in the new and blank sheet select File->Open and select the second sheet you want to open

    *Note: if you just double-click the second file it opens it in the same window – you have to do it through Start Menu-> Excel program then file->open

  20. Jocelyne August 28, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Not sure why, this is not working for me and need to fix asap. The option “View Side by Side” is greyed out, what can I do? Tks for your help!!

  21. Kristen December 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Very good tutorial! I was searching forever on how to switch the view from horizontal to vertical. Can’t thank you enough!!!

  22. Kevlarster January 15, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    EASY and FAST WAY: Minimize worksheet, drag and drop other tab into free space.

  23. Kate in Iowa February 18, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    At school, where I have only one monitor, in Excel 2010, I open Excel from the taskbar icon, open the first document I want to compare and size it to 50%.

    I open Excel from the start button, open the second document I want to compare, and size it to 50%.

    Voila! I can do a line by line comparison.

    At home I have two monitors, so I open each document on its own monitor.

  24. Sara Soder April 4, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Hi –

    I want to compare an active Excel sheet with an historical pdf file on the screen at the same time. How do I do this?

    • Joe Perkins July 9, 2014 at 11:14 am #

      I suppose you only have 1 monitor? Do you see the “Restore Down” icon (two overlapping squares) next to the “X” for close icon? Click that and then drag the edges of the excel window to fill half the screen. Do the same for the PDF viewer. It might help to “Maximize” the window to fill the entire screen first, then use “Restore Down”. Alternately, you open and maximize both and use ALT-TAB to switch between them.

  25. julie July 15, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Thank you, thank you. You are so much more helpful that Excel’s help.

  26. Jack August 11, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    Great… thank you

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