Single Instance of Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 21, 2008)


Every time you choose Word from the Start menu, a new instance of Word is opened on your system. It is possible to have five, six, or more instances of Word open, each editing away on their own files. You can do this because of both the way Word is written (as a program) and the features built into Windows. In some user environments, it may not be beneficial to have multiple instances of Word open at the same time. There is no simple way to prevent this, but you can create an AutoExec macro that will not allow multiple instances of Word 97 to be open. (You cannot do this in versions of Word previous to Word 97 because they do not allow inspection of the entire range of applications open on a system.) The following VBA macro will accomplish this very task.

Sub AutoExec()
thisinstance = Application.Tasks.Application.Caption
If thisinstance = "Microsoft Word" Then
    j = 0
        For Each i In Tasks
            If InStr(1, i.Name, thisinstance) > 0 Then
                j = j + 1
            End If
        Next i
    If j > 1 Then Application.Tasks.Application.Quit
    For Each i In Tasks
        If InStr(1, i.Name, "Microsoft Word") > 0 Then
            If i.Name <> thisinstance Then
            End If
        End If
    Next i
End If
End Sub

You should note that since this is an AutoExec macro (it automatically runs whenever Word is first started), there are some ways around it. If the user changes the Word command line (the one that actually starts Word) to use the /m switch, or if the user holds down the Shift key while Word is starting, then the AutoExec macro will not execute.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (390) applies to Microsoft Word 97.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


Decreasing a Paragraph's Indent

When formatting your document, you often have need to indent paragraphs. If you later want to decrease the indent used on ...

Discover More

Functioning Check Boxes in a Protected Worksheet

Want to protect a worksheet but maintain the ability to make changes to the check boxes you add to the worksheet? Here is ...

Discover More

Displaying the Command Prompt in Windows 8

Some commands require the use of the command prompt window. How you display that essential window in Windows 8 can be a ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (menu)

Button for Leaving Full-Screen Mode

If you display your document in full-screen mode, there are a couple of ways you can get back to normal mode. One method ...

Discover More

Working with Document Panes

Need to work with two different parts of a document at the same time? The answer is to rely on Word's ability to display ...

Discover More

Arranging Document Windows

When you have multiple documents open at the same time, you need a way to control how those document windows appear on ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four less than 8?

2013-02-12 04:08:36


I pointed the Word startup shortcut at a simple autohotkey macro:

if WinExist("Microsoft Word") {
} else {
run, C:Program` Filesoffice97OfficeWINWORD.EXE

Now I never get multiple instances of Word, regardless of /m, macro protection, etc. (I am running WinXP Pro SP3 -- downgraded from Win7 Ultimate which was driving me crazy)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.