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Old Dec 2, 2012, 07:27 PM   #1
jbarnes
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How to stop Word and Excel constantly opening new documents

I use both Word and Excel a lot (in Mountain Lion), and work with lots of different files, so I am constantly opening and closing files, as well as flicking between programs.

The following situation arises if either of these programs are already open but have no files open within them. If I am using another program, when I click the Word or Excel icon in the dock to go back to that program, it will open up a new blank document or spreadsheet. How do get it to stop doing this (as I usually don't want a new document or spreadsheet, but want to reopen an existing file under Open Recent)?

Moving between programs using command-tab doesn't cause this to happen, but I find this less convenient than using the mouse.
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Old Dec 3, 2012, 12:43 PM   #2
Gregg2
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Not sure, but I have another method for you: Command-Tab
This will cycle through all open applications. Try it. You'll see the icons pop up in the middle of the screen.
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Old Dec 4, 2012, 08:07 PM   #3
jbarnes
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@Gregg2 - thanks but I already covered that in the original question.

Any other ideas?
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Old Dec 5, 2012, 12:40 PM   #4
Gregg2
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I guess I didn't read that last part before!
I'm not at my Mac to experiment, but what happens if you right click the icon in the Dock and then select Open? (I think that's a choice.) There are Dock preferences somewhere too. I don't recall where, but I could find them if I was home.
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Old Dec 21, 2012, 05:22 PM   #5
jbarnes
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Thanks Gregg2. You're right, you can access Open Recent by right-clicking on the program icon in the dock. That's not quite the functionality I had in mind but it is another possible way to get into the files. There's nothing in the dock preferences that appears helpful.

Essentially, I was hoping I might be about to tailor the OS's functionality to my existing habits, but I'm thinking I might have to retrain my habits to fit the OS. Which is annoying, but perhaps just one of those things.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 09:59 AM   #6
Gregg2
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Ok, I opened Excel by double clicking a file. Then I closed Excel and came back to Safari. When I click the Excel icon on my Dock, the only thing that happens is that I now see the Excel toolbars over/on top of the Safari window and Excel becomes the active application. It does not open a new Excel document. (Interestingly, Safari and Excel are not set to open in the same Space. So, although "Excel" replaces "Safari" in the Menu bar, the Excel toolbars are somewhat "filtered" but not transparent. Clicking on the toolbar does nothing. The Safari window remains, and at normal sharpness, but definitely not "on top".)

I can then go the Apple menu and select a different Excel document in the Recent Items list. But, I can do that with Safari as the active application anyway, so clicking on the Excel icon in the Dock is an unnecessary step.

I think what I'm describing is what you want to do. I'm not sure why clicking on the Excel icon in the Dock causes a new document to open, but you don't have to do that.

I'm using OS 10.5.8 and Excel 11.6.6
I have Show Project Gallery at Startup checked in the General Preferences pane. I'm not sure that has any effect on this, but I don't see anything else that would seem more likely to either.

Last edited by Gregg2; Dec 22, 2012 at 10:04 AM.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 08:09 PM   #7
MisterMe
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Closing a window, such as you did with Excel, closes the document in the window but not the application. The exception is in the case of a single-window application. For most applications like Excel, the application continues to execute even if no document is open. If the application has other toolbars, windows, and such like, then they may remain open in the absence of an open document.

One more thing--the frontmost application controls the menubar. It is not proper to describe other applications as "inactive." To the contrary, background applications may be extremely active.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregg2 View Post
Ok, I opened Excel by double clicking a file. Then I closed Excel and came back to Safari. When I click the Excel icon on my Dock, the only thing that happens is that I now see the Excel toolbars over/on top of the Safari window and Excel becomes the active application. It does not open a new Excel document. (Interestingly, Safari and Excel are not set to open in the same Space. So, although "Excel" replaces "Safari" in the Menu bar, the Excel toolbars are somewhat "filtered" but not transparent. Clicking on the toolbar does nothing. The Safari window remains, and at normal sharpness, but definitely not "on top".)

I can then go the Apple menu and select a different Excel document in the Recent Items list. But, I can do that with Safari as the active application anyway, so clicking on the Excel icon in the Dock is an unnecessary step.

I think what I'm describing is what you want to do. I'm not sure why clicking on the Excel icon in the Dock causes a new document to open, but you don't have to do that.

I'm using OS 10.5.8 and Excel 11.6.6
I have Show Project Gallery at Startup checked in the General Preferences pane. I'm not sure that has any effect on this, but I don't see anything else that would seem more likely to either.
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Old Dec 24, 2012, 07:51 AM   #8
Gregg2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MisterMe View Post
One more thing--the frontmost application controls the menubar. It is not proper to describe other applications as "inactive." To the contrary, background applications may be extremely active.
Well, that part of your post is interesting. I understand your point, but I'm struggling to come up with a better term. The program that controls the menu bar is the only one I can interact with. What term would you use? I don't know if Apple or the IT geeks have terms for these things.

Other than that, did you read the OP to gain an understanding of the "dilemma"? The first part of your post might be educational for a new user, but it's not the crux of the issue here.
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Old Dec 25, 2012, 08:43 AM   #9
MisterMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregg2 View Post
...

Other than that, did you read the OP to gain an understanding of the "dilemma"? The first part of your post might be educational for a new user, but it's not the crux of the issue here.
There is no dilemma. In the case of your example, Excel was the foreground application. By definition, you can interact with only the foreground application. To change foreground applications, you may click the Dock icon of a background application to bring it to the foreground. If your desired application is not running in the background, then click the Applications icon in the Sidebar. Navigate to the application that you want. Then double-click its icon to launch it.
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Old Jan 5, 2013, 09:50 PM   #10
jbarnes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gregg2 View Post
Ok, I opened Excel by double clicking a file. Then I closed Excel and came back to Safari. When I click the Excel icon on my Dock, the only thing that happens is that I now see the Excel toolbars over/on top of the Safari window and Excel becomes the active application. It does not open a new Excel document. (Interestingly, Safari and Excel are not set to open in the same Space. So, although "Excel" replaces "Safari" in the Menu bar, the Excel toolbars are somewhat "filtered" but not transparent. Clicking on the toolbar does nothing. The Safari window remains, and at normal sharpness, but definitely not "on top".)

I can then go the Apple menu and select a different Excel document in the Recent Items list. But, I can do that with Safari as the active application anyway, so clicking on the Excel icon in the Dock is an unnecessary step.
Hi Gregg2 - thanks for your help again, and sorry for the long delay in replying - I've been away.

What you're describing is exactly the process I'm following, except that when I click on the Excel icon in the dock a new document does appear (interesting that that doesn't happen for you...), and that instead of going to Recent Items under the Apple icon, I'm going to Open Recent under the File menu (for which Excel must be the foreground application, so it is necessary to click the icon in the dock, or to open it by some other means, first).

In describing all of this I've actually realised just how inefficient my previous habit was. I'm sure most users have habitual processes that are not the quickest of all possible options but which are mostly about body memory and so not often analysed as such. However, none of the three alternative ways in (tab-command, right-clicking in the dock, or using Recent Items under the Apple icon) really feel intuitive to me - as I say, this is just about body memory. And I've still not worked out how to prevent Excel/Word opening new documents each time the dock icon is clicked.

Happily, I have found a fourth alternative that does feel intuitive - a menubar app called Recent Menu (in Mac App Store), which can be set to show up to 30 recent items. This is more efficient than either my original process or any of the other alternatives (requiring a single click), and feels natural to me as I already have the menubar loaded up with a bunch of other apps and am used to going up there for various things.

Thanks again.
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