How to Run Multiple Instances of an App in Windows

windows run multiple copies of app

It may seem simple in hindsight, but many Windows users don’t know that they can run multiple instances, or copies, of the same app on their PC without having to install the app twice. Whether it’s opening multiple File Explorer windows to copy your data between folders, comparing two word documents side-by-side, or maintaining separate personal and work Web browser windows, the ability to run multiple instances of the same app is not only easy, it can also give your productivity a huge boost.
windows app single instance
There are two primary ways to run another copy of an app that’s already open on your PC, and the methods work the same on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. The first method is to right-click on the app’s icon in the taskbar, and then left-click on the app’s name in the pop-up menu that appears. This will open a second instance of the app as if it were being launched for the first time.
windows launch app second instance
A quicker way to achieve this same result is to simply hold the Shift key on your keyboard while left-clicking an open application’s icon in the taskbar. Without holding Shift, clicking the app’s icon merely brings the app to the front of your open windows, or makes it the active application if it’s already visible. But adding the Shift key into the mix acts as a shortcut for the right-click steps mentioned above. As with the right-click method above, you’ll see a second copy of the app appear on your desktop.
windows app multiple instances
Although there are some exceptions for specialized software, in general these two (or more) instances of the app will act and operate independently, allowing you to visualize or manipulate data and text in ways that often aren’t even possible with a single instance. Additional instances also act just like their single-instance counterparts, so when you’re done working, you can simply quit or close the unneeded copy and continue working in your first instance of the app, or close all instances as desired.

3 thoughts on “How to Run Multiple Instances of an App in Windows”

Avatar Gummans Gubbe says:
*Thanks* for this article, it solved some major problems I had. I am using 64 bit windows 7, 32 bit excel.
I have two excel sheets that are using the same .dll. The dll sums an array from the worksheet, waits 10 seconds and returns the sum.
Opening different excel instances with right click / left click (first option in your article) makes it possible to switch between sheets during the sleep period.
However, using the shift left click makes excel hang in the active sheet.
They are different on my system.
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Avatar Gummans Gubbe says:
Hi again,
But what really solved my problem was this:
https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2013/06/03/opening-workbooks-by-running-separate-instances-of-excel/?eu=true
Holding down the ALT key when right clicking Excel. Then I got a question regarding starting a second instance of excel.
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Avatar CrosbyTee says:
What about if you need to have two different versions of the same app? Suppose you need app version 1.82 and app version 2.2.1 to be able to rum concurrently. How do you do that?
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Avatar Nick says:
youd need to download that version. there isnt a way to launch that kind of thing anyway unless the program specifically allows you to.
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Avatar gprkns says:
Does not work with Windows 10 and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. I have tried multiple methods, including navigating to the AcroRd32.exe located in C:Program FilesAdobeAcrobat Reader DCReader, none of the methods to get two separate Windows to open seem to work. (Windows 10 upgrade from a Windows 7 PC, 32bit).
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Avatar gprkns says:
Google can be helpful. Despite Acrobat Reader DC not opening using the method described in this article above, using the Menu bar of the application, select Window > New Window
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