Skip to content

How to select more than one Office document to open

How to choose more than one Microsoft Office file or document to open at the same time.

One of the frustrations about the ‘pane’ interface in Office for Windows is the failure to include all the features that customers were accustomed to from the standard File dialog boxes.

Microsoft added new and useful features like pinning and removing from the list (for privacy) but didn’t bother with existing features.

The most glaring example of this is opening multiple documents at once.   This is a common practice when resuming work on a particular project which often involves more than one document.

With the File | Open dialog you can choose multiple files with the long-standing shortcuts (hold down Ctrl and select files or hold down Shift to select a group of files listed together).

But you can’t do that in the Office File pane list of recent documents.  You can only open one document at a time.

Alternatively, click the Browse button at the bottom of each Open pane list (except Recent Documents for some strange reason).  Or click on a folder name to open the traditional Open dialog.

Copy path to clipboard

A useful idea was made clumsy in the right-click menu for each recent document.  An obvious shortcut would have been the ability to open the folder that a selected document is saved in (for example, to access other related documents).

Some ‘softies realized that but somewhere in the decision making process the ‘Open folder location’ became the clumsy ‘Copy path to clipboard’.  With that option you can copy the folder path but then switch to Explorer, paste in the path, press Enter to switch to the location you want.  Talk about the long way to reach your destination.

Somehow, Microsoft decided it was better to just give access to the path than open an Explorer or File Open dialog.  Surely accessing the folder is a lot more common than relatively obscure need for the full path.

Office isn’t perfect, only the most zealous Microsoft fans would think that.  But sometimes their reasoning defies understanding.  In this case even Microsoft staff can’t understand or explain why it was done.

But we’re stuck with it since Microsoft is so reluctant to admit mistakes.

How to open a mystery file with no extension
Opening Office documents from removable storage
Bypass Office Backstage and get to ‘real’ Open or Save dialogs
Two ways to open a OneDrive document in Microsoft Office

About this author

Office Watch is the independent source of Microsoft Office news, tips and help since 1996. Don't miss our famous free newsletter.