Tips and tricks: opening your Word document in multiple windows (October 2018)

by Margie Beilharz

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.

NewWindow

On my Mac, I select Window > New Window.

MacNewWindow

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.

TwoWindows

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:

  • 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.

Margie Beilharz is Editors Victoria's communication officer and newsletter editor. She's a freelance editor, writer and science communicator at The Open Desk.