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Microsoft Excel: Set Up Excel Icons To Open A Specific File On Startup

written by: Mr Excel•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 11/21/2011

Problem: You routinely use the same five files in your job. You want a series of five icons on your desktop, with each opening one of the specific files.

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    Strategy: Use a startup switch in the shortcut. Excel offers startup switches to open a specific file, to open a file as read-only, to suppress the startup screen, or to specify an alternate default file location. Follow these steps.

    1) Minimize all open windows with Win+M. The Win key is usually located between the left Ctrl and left Alt keys. It has a picture of a flying Window icon.

    2) Open Windows Explorer with Win+E.

    3) Browse to one of these locations:

    • For Excel 2003: \Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office11

    • For Excel 2002: \Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10

    • For Excel 2000: \Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office

    4) If Windows Explorer is in full screen mode, choose the Restore Down button in the upper right corner of the Window.

    5) Using the mouse, grab the blue title bar of the Windows Explorer window and move it so that you can see part of the desktop.

    6) Find the Excel icon in Windows Explorer. Right-click and drag the item to the desktop.

    7) When you release the right mouse button, a menu will appear. Choose Create Shortcuts Here.

    8) Close Windows Explorer.

    9) On the Desktop, right-click the new Shortcut to Excel icon and choose Properties.

    10) There are three tabs in the Properties dialog. Choose the General tab.

    11) Change the name in the top textbox to something meaningful. If this icon will be used to open the Sales file, a short name like Sales would work.

    12) On the Shortcut tab, locate the Target field. This field contains the complete path and filename to EXCEL.EXE. The path and file name are wrapped in quotes.

    13) The field is never big enough to display the entire path, so you must click in the field and hit the End key in order to see the end of the Entry.

    14) The startup switch should be added after the final quotation mark. Type a space, and then the startup switch. If you use multiple startup switches, each must be separated by a space.

    • To open a file in read-only mode, use the /R switch followed by the complete path and file name.

    • To open a file in normal mode, leave out the /R switch. Just have a space followed by the path and file name.

    Gotcha: If you start Excel normally, use File – Open and browse to the C:\ folder. All subsequent Open or Save As dialogs will start in the C:\ folder. Frustratingly, neither of the above switches will change the current path to the folder as the open file. In order to do that, use the /P switch with the same path as your file.

    Additional Details: Try the /E switch to suppress the Excel splash screen as your file opens.

    Summary: Customize your shortcut to Excel to open a specific file or to use a specific path as the current folder.

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