The Open Desk

Margie Beilharz

Freelance editor and writer in science, environment, education, health

Opening your Word document in multiple windows

It can be really useful to look at your Word document in two separate, independent windows. And it’s very simple, but unless you’ve played around with the menu options you may not be aware of it.

To see how it works, first open up a Word document.

On my PC, I then go to the View banner and select New Window.

On my Mac, I select Window > New Window.

Word will open a second copy of that document. It will be labelled with ‘:2’ after the filename; the first window will have ‘:1’ after the filename.

They are still the same document, so any changes you make in one will also happen in the other. But they scroll independently and can be placed wherever you like. I often work with two screens, and I put one window on each screen.

Although they are the same document, you can view them in different ways in the two windows; for example:

  • you can have one showing Track Changes and one with changes hidden
  • you can look at the document in Print Layout in one window and Outline or Draft in another window.

You can even have three or more windows open – they’ll be labelled ‘:3’ and ‘:4’ and so on.

I find having multiple windows most useful for activities that require you to search throughout a document while you are editing or writing a particular section. Having the two windows means that can keep your first window at the section you are editing, while jumping all over the document in your second window. So you are always right where you are working regardless of where your exploration has taken you.

This can be useful for:

  • searching for duplicated information
  • checking cross-references
  • manually checking a reference list
  • writing an introduction or executive summary at the start of a document
  • working concurrently on two separate parts of one document.

I find New Window much more useful than Split window, which lets you scroll two parts of your document independently but within the same window.

Close any extra windows you no longer want open by clicking on the X at the top right. You’ll only be prompted to save (if you have made any changes) when you are closing the final document window.

This article was first published in the Editors Victoria October 2018 newsletter.

Update: Old issues of the newsletter are now in the IPEd (Institute of Professional Editors) archive (members only).

See more tips & tricks.




One response to “Opening your Word document in multiple windows”

  1. Microsoft Word skills for editors: basic to advanced – Margie Beilharz — Freelance editor Avatar

    […] commonly known. Often it’s just a matter of taking the time to click a button on the ribbon, like this way to open multiple copies of your document – a game changer if you’ve not tried it […]


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