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As the seasons change throughout the year, we must adapt to the frequent changes in temperature and weather conditions. This might mean turning off the heat and opening the windows on a warm day, only to have to close them again the following day. Or you may find yourself donning and removing your jacket several times throughout any given day. Maybe you even put away your snow shovel and woke up the next day in the midst of a snowfall.

With software, these types of changes also need to occur; not seasonally, but by task. We have gathered some tips to help you get your software application windows to behave the way you want so you can quickly switch gears.

Tips compiled by Vitalyst staff.

What Is the Windows Key Used For?

Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7

Have you ever wondered about that strange key between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the left side of your keyboard? It is commonly known as the Windows key, and can be used in conjunction with other keys to perform a variety of useful tasks.

First and foremost, it will open the Start menu; all you have to do is press it. Press it a second time to close the Start menu. Here are a few of its other uses:

  • Windows Key+D – Show/hide desktop
  • Windows Key+M – Minimize all open windows
  • Windows Key+Shift+M – Undo minimize all open windows
  • Windows Key+Tab – Cycle through taskbar program buttons
  • Windows Key+L – Lock your computer

For more Windows 7 shortcuts, check out Lifehacker’s “master list.”

Switch Windows Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Windows XP, Vista, 7

You are a multitasker extraordinaire. Single-handedly mouse-clicking back and forth between application windows, accessing just the right window for the task, you are an unstoppable, clicking machine. And yet, you may find that your mouse just does not click fast enough for you, or you may just want to improve your speed. We are about to unveil a new weapon for you; a weapon so fast and accurate, you may never want to click again.

Clicking the icons on the Taskbar to switch applications is a time-honored tradition among multitaskers, but our method may make you even more efficient. Give this a try:

Windows XP:

Hold down the Alt key and do not let go. Next, tap the Tab key, but do not let go of that Alt key. Notice that a bar appears on your screen with small thumbnails that represent each of the application windows that you have open. While still holding the Alt key, each time you press the Tab key, the gray selection box moves from left to right, highlighting each application. When you get to the application of choice, let go of both keys, and the selected window is in front and active.

The Shift key works with the Alt+Tab combination to reverse the order you go through the windows.

Windows Vista, 7:

Hold down the Windows key and do not let go. Next, tap the Tab key, but do not let go of that Windows key. All of your windows appear as large thumbnails and you can cycle through them as you continue pressing the Tab key. Release the keys when you reach the window you want, and that will be window in front of everything with the cursor active.

The Alt and Tab key combination also works without using the Aero feature. Notice that a bar appears on your screen with small thumbnails that represent each of the application windows that you have open. While still holding the Alt key, each time you press the Tab key, the gray selection box moves from left to right, highlighting each application. When you get to the application of choice, let go of both keys, and the selected window is in front and active.

The Shift key works with both combinations and reverses the order you go through the windows.

How to Open and Work with a Second Window of Your Spreadsheet

Microsoft Excel 2003, 2007, 2010

Sometimes you need to see file in two (or more) windows. In Excel, you might have to view data from multiple worksheets in the same workbook at the same time. You may not have enough screen space to view different areas of the file all at once. By viewing the same file in multiple windows, you can easily see different parts of it all at once, even if they are nowhere near each other on the worksheet.

Follow the steps below for your version of Excel.

Excel 2003:

  1. Click the Window menu.
  2. Click on New Window.
  3. You will see the title in the title bar change to “Filename: 2” (where “Filename” is the name of your file. You now have two windows showing the same file. Any changes you make in either window will show in the other window). Depending on your configuration, you may also notice that a second instance of Excel has appeared in your taskbar, containing the second copy of your workbook.
  4. To properly close the extra window(s), click the small “x” icon in the upper-right corner of the workbook. Be sure not to click the red “x” to close Excel, but the small black “x” to close just the active workbook.

NOTE: If you save the file with multiple windows open, the next time you open it, both windows will open. You will have to close one of the windows and re-save the file.

Excel 2007:

  1. Click the View tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Click on the New Window icon.
  3. You will see the title in the title bar change to “Filename: 2” (where “Filename” is the name of your file. You now have two windows showing the same file. Any changes you make in either window will show in the other window). Depending on your configuration, you may also notice that a second instance of Excel has appeared in your taskbar, containing the second copy of your workbook.
  4. To properly close the extra window(s), click the small “x” icon in the upper-right corner of the workbook. Be sure not to click the larger “x” icon to close Excel, but the smaller “x” icon to close just the active workbook.

NOTE: If you save the file with multiple windows open, the next time you open it, both windows will open. You will have to close one of the windows and re-save the file.

Excel 2010:

  1. Click the View tab on the Ribbon.
  2. Click on the New Window icon.
  3. You will see the title in the title bar change to “Filename: 2” (where “Filename” is the name of your file. You now have two windows showing the same file. Any changes you make in either window will show in the other window). Depending on your configuration, you may also notice that a second instance of Excel has appeared in your taskbar, containing the second copy of your workbook.
  4. To properly close the extra window(s), click the small “x” icon in the upper-right corner of the workbook. Be sure not to click the larger “x” icon to close Excel, but the smaller “x” icon to close just the active workbook.

NOTE: If you save the file with multiple windows open, the next time you open it, both windows will open. You will have to close one of the windows and re-save the file.

How to View Two Workbooks Side by Side

Microsoft Excel 2003, 2007, 2010

In this age of advanced technology and multi-tasking, it is often necessary to work with more than one file at a time. Excel has a built-in feature that is easy to use, and more importantly, very useful, that lets you view two workbooks side by side. You can even scroll through both files simultaneously, so that you do not have to keep switching windows and scrolling through both separately.

To enable Side by Side view, follow the steps for your version of Excel below.

Excel 2003:

  1. Open at least two Excel workbooks.
  2. Click the Window menu.
  3. Click the option for “Compare Side by Side with…” If you only have one other file open, that file’s name will display. If you have more than two files open, a dialog box will open that will let you choose the second file to view. Just click on the file to select it and click the OK button.
  4. Excel should arrange the windows horizontally or vertically. You should notice a small toolbar pop up called Compare Side by Side. If the windows did not arrange properly, press the Reset Window Position button, which looks like two pieces of paper with arrows pointing towards each other. If you only have two documents open in Excel, you can also modify the arrangement by going to the Window menu, and then Arrange. Choose horizontal or vertical, then click the OK button.
  5. When you scroll through one worksheet, the other worksheet will scroll as well. This is referred to as “synchronous scrolling.”
  6. To disable synchronous scrolling, click on the synchronous scrolling icon on the Compare Side by Side toolbar. It is on the left side of the toolbar. Notice that it is no longer illuminated. Click it again to reactivate.
  7. To close Side by Side view, click the Window menu and then click on Close Side by Side. You can also click on the same option from the Compare Side by Side toolbar.

Excel 2007:

  1. Open at least two Excel workbooks.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. In the Window group, click on the option for View Side by Side. The icon looks like two pieces of paper next to each other. If you have more than two files open, this will open a dialog box that will let you choose the file you want to view side by side with. Just click on the file to select it and click the OK button.
  4. Excel should arrange the windows horizontally or vertically. If the windows did not arrange properly, press the Reset Window Position button, which is located on the View tab in the Window group and looks like two pieces of paper with arrows pointing towards each other. If you only have two documents open in Excel, you can also modify the arrangement by going to the View tab, and then Arrange All. Choose horizontal or vertical and then click the OK button.
  5. When you scroll through a worksheet the other worksheet will scroll as well. This is referred to as “synchronous scrolling.”
  6. To disable synchronous scrolling, click to deselect the synchronous scrolling icon on the View tab, in the Window group.
  7. To close Side by Side view, click the View tab, and in the Window group, click to deselect the View Side by Side option.

Excel 2010:

  1. Open at least two Excel workbooks.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. In the Window group, click on the option for View Side by Side. The icon looks like two pieces of paper next to each other. If you have more than two files open, this will open a dialog box that will let you choose the file you want to view side by side with. Just click on the file to select it and click the OK button.
  4. Excel should arrange the windows horizontally or vertically. If the windows did not arrange properly, press the Reset Window Position button, which is located on the View tab in the Window group and looks like two pieces of paper with arrows pointing towards each other. If you only have two documents open in Excel, you can also modify the arrangement by going to the View tab, and then Arrange All. Choose horizontal or vertical and then click the ok button.
  5. When you scroll through a worksheet the other worksheet will scroll as well. This is referred to as “synchronous scrolling.”
  6. To disable synchronous scrolling, click to deselect the synchronous scrolling icon on the View tab, in the Window group.
  7. To close Side by Side view, click the View tab, and in the Window group, click to deselect the View Side by Side option.

How to View Two Documents Side by Side

Microsoft Word 2003, 2007, 2010

When examining changes between documents or when working with two at the same time, it would be nice to be able to see them both at once. In Word you can view two documents side by side, and even scroll through them at the same time. The Compare Side by Side feature places two documents on screen, right next to each other, so that you can easily work with both.

Follow the steps for your version of Word below.

Word 2003:

  1. Ensure that you have more than one document open.
  2. Click the Window menu.
  3. Click the option for “Compare Side by Side with…”. If you only have one other file open, that file’s name will display. If you have more than two files open, this will open a dialog box that will let you choose the file you want to view side by side with. Just click on the file to select it and click the OK button.
  4. Word will arrange the windows vertically.
  5. When you scroll through a document the other document will scroll as well. This is referred to as “synchronous scrolling.”
  6. To disable synchronous scrolling, click on the synchronous scrolling icon on the Compare Side by Side toolbar that appears when in Side by Side mode. It is the icon on the left side of the toolbar.
  7. To close Side by Side view, click the Window menu and then click on Close Side by Side. You can also click on the same option from the Compare Side by Side toolbar.

Word 2007:

  1. Ensure that you have more than one document open.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. In the Window group, click on the option for View Side by Side. If you have more than two files open, this will open a dialog box that will let you choose the file you want to view side by side with. Just click on the file to select it and click the OK button.
  4. Word will arrange the windows horizontally.
  5. When you scroll through a document the other document will scroll as well. This is referred to as “synchronous scrolling.”
  6. To disable synchronous scrolling, click to deselect the synchronous scrolling icon on the View tab, in the Window group.
  7. To close Side by Side view, click the View tab, and in the Window group, click to deselect the View Side by Side option.

Word 2010:

  1. Ensure that you have more than one document open.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. In the Window group, click on the option for View Side by Side. If you have more than two files open, this will open a dialog box that will let you choose the file you want to view side by side with. Just click on the file to select it and click the OK button.
  4. Word will arrange the windows horizontally.
  5. When you scroll through a document the other document will scroll as well. This is referred to as “synchronous scrolling.”
  6. To disable synchronous scrolling, click to deselect the synchronous scrolling icon on the View tab, in the Window group.
  7. To close Side by Side view, click the View tab, and in the Window group, click to deselect the View Side by Side option.

How to View Two Presentations at the Same Time

Microsoft PowerPoint 2003, 2007, 2010

When creating a new presentation, it is often necessary to review a previous presentation to make sure that formatting and styles conform. With two presentations on screen at the same time, you can easily see differences between them, and make changes to both at once. The Arrange All feature does this quickly and easily. This will save you time and effort so that you do not have to continually switch back and forth between windows.

Follow the steps below for your version of PowerPoint.

PowerPoint 2003:

  1. Ensure that you have more than one PowerPoint presentation open.
  2. Click the Window menu.
  3. Click on Arrange All.
  4. The presentations will be arranged vertically, with each presentation taking up an equal amount of the screen. They will share the same main PowerPoint application window.
  5. To close a single presentation, click the “x” icon in the upper-right corner of its window.
  6. To maximize an individual presentation, click the maximize icon in the upper-right corner of its window.

PowerPoint 2007:

  1. Ensure that you have more than one PowerPoint presentation open.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Click on Arrange All.
  4. The presentations will be arranged vertically, with each presentation taking up an equal amount of the screen. They will share the same main PowerPoint application window.
  5. To close a single presentation, click the “x” icon in the upper-right corner of its window.
  6. To maximize an individual presentation, click the maximize icon in the upper-right corner of its window.

PowerPoint 2010:

  1. Ensure that you have more than one PowerPoint presentation open.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Click on Arrange All.
  4. The presentations will be arranged vertically, with each presentation taking up an equal amount of the screen. Each presentation will be in its own PowerPoint application window.
  5. To close a single presentation, click the “x” icon in the upper-right corner of its window.
  6. To maximize an individual presentation, click the maximize icon in the upper-right corner of its window.

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