Tying Workbooks Together

Don wonders if there is a way to “tie” two or more workbooks together so they are always open (and closed) at the same time. One relatively easy way to get close to this desire is to create, within Excel, what is called a workspace. You can do this by following these general steps:

  1. Open all the workbooks you want to be used together.
  2. Display the View tab of the ribbon.
  3. Click the Save Workspace tool (in the Window group).

That’s it; Excel creates a workspace file that includes information about the workbooks you currently have open. Later, when you want all the workbooks open, you can simply open the workspace file (it has an xlw extension) and all the workbooks that make up that file are opened.

While this is a great way to open all the workbooks you need at one time, it doesn’t answer the requirement of always having those workbooks be open. For instance, your workspace may include five workbooks, but once opened you can easily close one, two, or more of the individual workbooks in the workspace. The requirement that it be “all or nothing” for the member workbooks isn’t met.

If you want to make sure that all the requirements are met, then the only way you can do it is to use a macro. You could include a Workbook_Open event-handler macro in all five of the workbooks that checked to see if the other workbooks in the group were open or not. If they weren’t, then the macro could open them. You would also need to create a Workbook_BeforeClose event handler that would make sure that all the other workbooks in the group were closed.

Finally, you should note that using workspaces will work only with Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. The feature was removed from Excel 2013, and it is unclear whether it will be added again, in the future. (You can open a workspace file in Excel 2013, but you cannot create one any more.)