If you are working almost the entire day in front of your computer at your office with lots of Excel Sheets and Word, then probably you might be working with a dual monitor or may be even more than that. Studies have shown that having an additional monitor increases the productivity by 20 to 30 percent (Source: NY Times)
But some applications like MS Office Excel, even though you open multiple files, they are all from the same instance of the application. So if you want to compare two Excel files, then you may not be able to have it in two separate monitors as the files are loaded using the same instance of Excel. If you move one Excel file to the other window, the other Excel files are also moved to the other window.
So how to have two separate Excel files or other application side by side in dual monitors?
In Excel 2003, go to Tools -> Options -> General tab.
Make sure the option, ‘Ignore other applications’ is checked. Now all the Excel files will be opened as separate instance and you can move the Excel files individually across the monitors.
In Excel 2007, Click the Office button -> Excel Options -> Advanced.
Under General, check ‘Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange’.
As this method forces each Excel file as a separate instance, the memory consumption will be more. If you don’t want too many memory consumption then you can open only two instances (see Option B) and manage wisely to view in both the monitors.
Note: If you are having issues like Excel opens without displaying a workbook, then you may have to uncheck this option. (See Microsoft Help for more details on this). You can use option B in this case. I have this option checked and I have not faced any issue yet.
They key here is, the application has to be loaded as separate instances. Lets say you have opened an Excel file in Monitor 1 and you want to open the next excel file in Monitor 2. You can usually open another instance of Excel by browsing through the Start Menu -> Programs -> Microsoft Office -> Excel. Make sure this newly opened Excel file is the last Excel file you had viewed and then double click on the Excel file that you wanted to open. This will force the Excel to open in the second instance of Excel. Now you can move these two excel files separately across windows or monitors.
This may be little cumbersome way to open new instances of Excel every time. The easy solution would be to keep these links in the quick links near the Start button. So, every time you want to open a new instance of the application, you can just use those quick links.