How to Run Multiple Versions of the Same Program on Your PC

Ben Stegner 08-02-2017

Running more than one instance of a program can be useful, for example if you have multiple Skype accounts.


Most people probably don’t have several accounts for the same service or need to juggle three instances of Word at the same time. However, for those times when just one running copy of an app won’t do, there are several options that let you around the limitation.

Next time you need to run an app in multiple windows, here are a few solutions.

The Basic Solution

There’s one method that isn’t truly running independent instances of a program, but it could be all you need. To open a second window of any open program, just hold Shift and click on its icon in your Taskbar. For programs like Word, Notepad, or Chrome, this will open a second window with a blank document.

However, this won’t work with all apps, including Skype. If you want to run independent processes of those apps, continue on.

Run as a Different User

Whenever you open an app in Windows, the operating system creates a new process of that program under your user account 5 Tips for Managing Windows User Accounts Like a Pro Windows user accounts have evolved from isolated local accounts to online accounts with various privacy challenges. We help you sort out your accounts and find the settings that work for you. Read More . If you have more than one user on your system and switch between them using the Start Menu, you can create new instances of the same program under a different user.


You can observe this by opening the Task Manager 10 Windows Task Manager Tricks You Probably Didn't Know Here are handy Task Manager tricks every Windows user should know, including how to bring up the Task Manager quickly and more! Read More (CTRL + Shift + ESC) and viewing the Details tab. The User name column contains the user who started the process.

How to Run Multiple Versions of the Same Program on Your PC Task Manager User Name Details

Of course, switching between user accounts all the time to use two copies of Skype would be tedious. There’s a better way, though: you can choose to run a program as a different user than your usual account. If you don’t already have a second user on your computer, go ahead and create a new user account Fix Windows Issues by Creating a New User Account Have you been troubleshooting a Windows issue to no avail? Creating a new user account could be your last resort. It's tricky, but we'll show you how to do it right. Read More for this. You can do so by opening the Settings app from the Start Menu, then jump to Accounts > Family & other people.

Click Add someone else to this PC. When you’re prompted to enter their email address, click I don’t have this person’s sign-in information at the bottom instead. You don’t need to use a Microsoft account The Pros and Cons of Using a Microsoft Account with Windows A single Microsoft Account allows you to log into a wide range of Microsoft services and apps. We show you the pros and cons of using a Microsoft Account with Windows. Read More to sign in, so click Add a user without a Microsoft account at the bottom of the next dialogue. Set a username (Dummy or something similar is fine) and a password for the account. If you don’t set a password, the next step won’t work.


How to Run Programs Under Another Account

Now that you have two accounts, you can run programs under whichever account you choose. If you open a program from the Start Menu, it opens under your account by default. To launch it as your second user, find it on the Start Menu, right-click, and choose More > Open File Location.

How to Run Multiple Versions of the Same Program on Your PC Run Program As Different User

Next, hold Shift while you right-click on the icon of your desired program in the resulting File Explorer window. Click Run as different user in the dialogue and you’ll see a login box asking you to sign in with another account. Enter the login info you just created, and the app will launch under that account instead.

In our testing, we found that using this method to open an app that you already have open just opens a new window under your own account. To get around this, use the Run as a different user command before you open the program normally. When we did this, Skype opened a “please sign in” window first and then opened to our account page when we launched it normally afterwards.


How to Run Multiple Versions of the Same Program on Your PC Two Instances of Skype

Isolate with Sandboxie

If you don’t want to use the above method, there’s a piece of software made especially for this purpose. Sandboxie is a tool that lets you run anything in an isolated window from the rest of your system. It’s a great way to test potentially unsafe software in a controlled environment, but lets you run multiple versions of an app, too.

Get started by downloading Sandboxie and running through its installation process. Once you’re done, you’ll see a Run Sandboxed entry when you right-click on a program in the File Explorer. You’ll probably have to right-click an app’s entry in the Start Menu and choose More > Open File Location to find these.

A program in a sandbox shows up in your Taskbar like anything else, but you’ll see a yellow outline around it when you mouse over the window borders. Note that anything you create in the sandbox gets destroyed when you’re done using it, so make sure to save any important files on your computer so you don’t lose them.


Overall, the Run As method is probably easier for most users. Sandboxie is a powerful utility with a variety of uses, but takes a bit to learn properly. Have a look at the FAQ if you’re interested in learning more.

How to Run Multiple Versions of the Same Program on Your PC Sandboxie Window

Sandboxie is a free tool, but after you use it for 30 days it makes you wait a few seconds before you launch a sandboxed program. This isn’t a huge deal if you open an app and leave it open for hours, but it could get in your way if you regularly launch sandboxed apps. A $21/year or $35/lifetime license removes this restriction.

Don’t Forget About Built-in Tools

Aside from these two Windows tools, there are options inside many programs that let you accomplish similar functionality.

Because we do so much in browsers these days, one of your best weapons for running multiple instances of an account is an Incognito/Private window. Incognito windows essentially provide a “clean” browser that doesn’t keep any sign-in or other identifying information. Thus, you can use an Incognito window to sign into multiple Facebook, Gmail, or web versions of apps like Skype at once without signing out of your primary account.

Chrome also includes a profile switcher that lets you open Chrome under a different Google account. There’s a Guest account that’s similar to an Incognito window, too.

If you use Outlook, you can add multiple email addresses Combine Your Email Accounts Into a Single Inbox: Here's How Are you checking multiple inboxes daily? Stop wasting time! Combine your email accounts into a single inbox. We show you how for Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo. Read More and view them all in one Outlook window.

For instant messaging fanatics, Franz is your best friend. This all-in-one messaging service The 7 Best Chat Apps and Clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux From all-in-one messengers to dedicated chat clients, here are some of the best chat apps to use on Windows, Mac, or Linux. Read More lets you sign into dozens of services, like Hangouts, Skype, Discord, and WhatsApp, all in one window. What’s more, they all run separately, so you can sign into five different Skype accounts if you have them.

Multiple Sign-ins Are No Problem

While it might seem scary at first, with these tools and methods you should have no problem running several instances of one program. Some might give you a bit more trouble than others, but one of these solutions should work for pretty much anything. Don’t let yourself get too carried away with all these accounts, though!

Want to go a bit deeper? Check out the best ways to run multiple operating systems on your PC What's the Best Way to Run Multiple Operating Systems on Your PC? Undecided between Windows and Linux? It's possible to run multiple OSes on a single machine either by dual booting or using a virtual machine. Let's find out which one is best for you. Read More .

What programs and services do you run multiple instances for? Let us know if we missed your most useful method or if you’ll try one of these by leaving a comment!

Related topics: Gmail, Mozilla Firefox, Skype, Windows Tricks.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. shseah601
    April 28, 2018 at 6:48 am

    Im not sure if this is right but I found that the title is running different versions of program in a PC but the content is running multiple same versions of program in a PC. Maybe someone will give a better solution for the title?

  2. Freonpsandoz
    September 4, 2017 at 7:00 am

    I will switch to PowerShell right after the author explains how to redirect utf8 output from all of my perl scripts (and all other CLI programs that produce utf8 output) to utf8 files in PowerShell. So far, I have not found a single person who knows how to do that correctly.

  3. Anonymous
    August 14, 2015 at 5:21 am

    I use an astrology program called Astrolog couldn't I just download the same program and rename it Astro-2, Astro-3, etc, etc and then proceed to install it?
    I kind of need them to run concurrently under the same user screen so I'm not sure your solution would serve my needs..(although that's a great idea btw ;) )

    • Doc
      February 9, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      Nope. The program will install into the same folder in Program Files (or Program Files (x86)) regardless, if it's designed to install as a standard Windows program.
      If it just extracts its files to a folder, then you *could* just make a copy of the file folder...but it's likely that the program will reuse the same Registry entries and settings as the first install, so the settings will either carry over, or corrupt themselves, especially if two copies are running at once.
      Some programs will refuse to launch a second copy, either popping up a dialog box, or just activating the running version.
      Not even going to ask why someone is attempting to do "astrology" stuff...

    • shseah601
      April 28, 2018 at 6:44 am

      Maybe you can try using virtual machines?

  4. Lust4MoneyClixSense
    April 26, 2015 at 6:42 am

    run the same facebook group blaster so i can input maximum accounts linked without upgrading. (costing me nothing) :) creating me more sales.

    nice tut. been looking for this.

  5. Asfand yar Khan Rabbani
    December 16, 2014 at 11:50 am

    i have struct in a problem. i have developed a software and release its first version. After some period of time i made some changes in it and now again want to release its new version. but the problem is that clients want to have both old and new versions. i install new on same machine. but now when i run new version software it looks like old version no changes occure on client system.but on my system new version is working as expected. Please help me any one.
    Regards Asfand yar khan

  6. Sean
    December 9, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I was wondering could you use this to run a multiple versions of a program like Keyword Elite, where you would have like two more accounts, and it running in each account? I would assume you would have to download it each time for each account correct? Would you also have to install an antivirus account in each one as well? Thanks.

  7. nick
    December 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Thank You very much for the easy tip, i googled the net for 1 week searching for a way to run Multiple Versions of the Same Program but most articles sugest to install the Virtual machine software from microsoft and some other complications till i came to your post, i had my second version of the software running in less than a minute. Brilliant ! Thanks a lot for sharing.

  8. evv
    November 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    how i can tell you ... you just save my ass :)


    but i have to put all time run as i need shortcut that easy for me to he auto loc wich user have to run if you know


  9. Martin
    November 21, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    it seems to doesnt work on xp sp3 :(

  10. alandu
    September 27, 2009 at 8:36 am

    mine just says: run as administrator

    how do u do it???

  11. tarek
    September 16, 2009 at 9:29 am

    on windowa xp :)

  12. tarek
    September 16, 2009 at 9:28 am

    taro ,thanks very good programe that Sandboxie ,i can now run the same program twice and play my games with 2 acounts at teh same time,i recomend it .lol

  13. x@!n†™²³
    August 25, 2009 at 2:43 am

    for vista its so easy...just creat another account or activate your guest account..then after that go to your start up...and cho0s the switch user botton...their you go..wahahaha

    i was able to open 2 wc3 wahahaha!!!!

    remember to njot log out your real account!

  14. Rob K
    July 22, 2009 at 2:15 am

    This looks like something I'm trying. Has anyone got a program to run two sessions simultaneously with each session looking at a dedicated USB port? I am trying to run a voice recording program to look after two phones via USB but only want to use a single PC.

  15. kimiaj
    July 11, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    This can't be use in windows vista.. I tried million times on how to run two or more same programs at the same time. I often to this in my old pc with XP OS. However, when I got new PC, I tried vista as it's OS.. Damn! I'm really having hard time now doing the usual stuffs I know about when I still had the XP. I guess, I made a wrong choice for OS. It's as if now, I'm a novice and computer illiterate.

    Can somebody help me how to run two same programs at the same time with Vista?

  16. xXx
    June 19, 2009 at 9:00 am

    hey i have a idea, but we need a pro in programming people. we can use autoit and make it can block some thing that block us open the same window.. but i no pro in programming autoit anyone can send me the command??

  17. Frank
    May 18, 2009 at 10:38 am

    If you want to use multiple msn accounts at the same time just go to


  18. Spencer Wallsworth
    April 16, 2009 at 12:08 am

    MSN windows live messenger might worked, I still didn't get Guild Wars to show up more than once. Go to start > All Programs > windows live > windows live messenger. Right click it, you will see run as.

  19. Taro
    April 13, 2009 at 5:07 am

    An other solution:

    Instead of making many accounts, download program named sandbox on

    Once sandbox is installed, all you have to do is right-click on any programs you want and then select "Run Sandboxed"

    • Twizt3d RaZr
      January 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

      worked perfectly for running multiple instances of a video chat program

      thx for the tip!

  20. Ralph
    March 1, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    I use this to run Two Instances of Google Calendar Sync.

    One syncs my work account 1-way (googleCal to Outlook)
    Two syncs my personal gmail account 2ways.

    Then I use NemuSync to sync my iphone with my online google personal account.

    I do this because I don't work to see all my personal entries, and the iphone has no "private" entry capabilities, ++ I don I don't necessarily need or want my work calendar to reflect my personal entries since I manage the conflicts manually and I'm always shuffling with work appointments being Priority number 1.

  21. apekillape
    February 26, 2009 at 5:40 pm

    Ya, for gaming you definitely need to run vmware so you can have truly individual instances. Otherwise you'll get a hell of a lot of other problems.

    The original account suggestion helped me boatloads in running multiple instances of autoit though. Thanks man!


  22. DAX
    January 17, 2009 at 6:01 am

    for none vista 64bit users JUST USE SANDBOXIE

  23. kiran
    December 7, 2008 at 7:00 am

    thank u darling..up to now im thinking installing a virtual box os like that something..

    i have only 40gb ,,u saved me 2gb of space ..thank you

  24. Matt
    November 21, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    I've been using this to run multiple instances of the windows timershot powertoy to record time lapse pictures from multiple webcams on the same computer. Works like a charm.

  25. Joy
    November 19, 2008 at 12:41 am

    Can u run multiple instance of VPN on same machin??
    Try it out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. john
    September 1, 2008 at 1:01 am

    hi, this doesn't seem to work with vista. right click menu only has 'run as administrator' no option to run program as another user. i tried loggin in as regular user and then running the prog as administrator but that didn't work either. anyone?


  27. Masti
    May 18, 2008 at 5:29 am

    I have been googling for this for last 2 hours and my search ends with this finest article. Many thanks its working with charm.

  28. flossay
    May 13, 2008 at 12:08 am

    for gaming i usually go into properties from the desktop icon and in the target line at the end add this .... -multiple .... it will only open multiple instances if you access from desktop icon =) have fun!

  29. BroqueW
    January 21, 2008 at 4:17 am

    Hum, this tip doesn't work for me (XPSP2), even with logging into the newly created accounts to "propagate" them as said in another post.
    Both accounts have administrator rights and I can't get any of my VoIP clients to run more than once (SJPhone, X-Lite, 3CX Phone). Even if I begin with the "Run as..." and then try to launch the program normally.
    Any idea?

    • Mark O'Neill
      January 22, 2008 at 10:22 am

      You don't have to "propagate" them first - I have four extra accounts and I have never had to log into them first.

      Without seeing your computer, I couldn't begin to suggest what the problem might be. One possible problem though - maybe the program you are trying to launch doesn't allow more than one instance at a time to be run? Maybe there is something in the code that prevents this hack from being carried out? Just a thought. If you have Skype, try that and see if it works.

      Also you could check the accounts one more time to make sure that administrator rights really have been granted.

      I have XP service pack 2 also and it works fine for me. But from a distance, I can't begin to properly analyse your problem.

      • Johnk
        February 17, 2009 at 6:54 am

        I'm facing the same issue with BroqueW, but while using X-lite application. I have tried all of your suggestions, for Skype,X-lite,Outlook,WMplayer etc, without any success. Do you think that it has to do with the registry or any service that is not enabled?


  30. ravo
    January 15, 2008 at 6:17 am

    im tryin to run a game on my machine twice... silkroadonline to p lvl my own chars... do you know if this method will work for that, if not do you know a way to get it to work

    • Mark O'Neill
      January 15, 2008 at 11:25 am

      I'm not a games expert so someone else will have to answer this. But a basic question would have to be how can you run two simultaneous games on the computer at the same time? Split monitor? Two monitors?

      • Dan Schafer
        February 27, 2008 at 10:02 pm

        The simple answer for Windows gaming is No. The reason is slightly complex, and a possible solution is even more-so complex.

        I'm guessing you are referring to full screen games, not windowed games like solitaire. Unfortunately this is basically impossible to do with Windows.

        Here is a little more detailed explanation.

        Technical Background: Windows handles multi-monitors like so. In WindowsXP there is a Primary monitor, and additional monitors may be enabled by extending the desktop to include these additional monitors. With a proprietary video card control panel and driver, these additional monitors can also be "clones" of the primary monitor, but there is still only one Primary monitor.

        Problem #1: Games are generally programmed to run only on the Primary monitor. If the game does support multi-monitor (think flight sims), it usually spans across all the monitors. Say you have a Flight Sim running and subsequently load Madden. Madden will minimize the Flight Sim, and only run itself on the Primary monitor, blanking out the other monitors. The game has to be programmed to enable monitor mapping; this is not easy to accomplish, rarely do people want this functionality, so subsequently no one ever programs for it.

        Problem #2: Windows only allows for one active Session at a time to interact with the graphics subsystem. The "Run As" feature runs a program for you using another user's permissions, but still in your active Session. If you would try to do a "Switch User", that program would not be active in their Session, only yours. So you cannot load the Flight Sim with your account and then do a Run As command to load Madden as a workaround. Since it is a process active in your Session, and it still has to obey problem #1.

        Problem #3: One input device focus point. Since Windows only allows one active Session (think one user), there is no reason to have multiple cursors on the screen. Think of a laptop. You can have a touchpad, a nub mouse, a bunch of USB mice, and a few Bluetooth mice all connected, but you will only have one cursor/arrow. What about gamepads you say? Yes there are multiple input paths, but they always interact with one process at a time. If the Windows input handler doesn't notice any reserved keystroke like "CTRL-ALT-DEL" or a globally registered hotkey, it passes the input to the window that has focus. So there is no way to interact with both games at the same time.

        Solution: You need to have an operating system that will concurrently allow multiple input devices mapped to multiple Sessions, that are mapped to different Monitors, and have those different Sessions interact with your multiple game instances. This isn't Windows.

        Cheviot. I know about Remote Desktop Connection and Terminal Services and how it allows multiple users to have multiple Sessions on one Windows computer, but this is not what the question deals with. RDC and TS allow multiple computers or thin clients to run and view a session remotely, but the current user on the server machine still cannot view all of those sessions individually on that machine, only their active one.

  31. Ali Shehab
    October 1, 2007 at 7:46 am

    i need to open two emails on same massenger

  32. mark
    September 21, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    David : I hate to disagree with you but it is not necessary to "enter" the new account first (I assume you mean log into the account?). I have the main admin account and four extra accounts and I have never in the 8 months that I have had them set up, ever had to go into the four extra accounts. I just set them up on the Windows User Accounts screen and they were immediately good to go.

  33. David
    September 21, 2007 at 11:01 am

    Clarification - This MAY help James.
    I had a few issues setting this up. However, I found that, once you have created the account, (say Mark2) it is necessary to enter the account forst to 'propogate' it. THEN it's 'real' on your system and you can follow Mark's instructions.

    On the OUTLOOK side of things - I can confirm that NO, you cannot run multilple Outlooks using this method. I REALLY need to as I run 2 business and we are forever sending emails with the wrong signature or from the account. Never mind - back to the drawing board...

  34. HOW TO
    September 18, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    how can you run multiple lines simultaneously off skype for a small business we would like to buy the linksys system that you plug into the router...thanks

  35. mark
    September 17, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    James : if it only shows one account (when there are more accounts on your PC) then it can only mean that you don't have full administrator privileges on your Windows user account (an administrator can see everything). You need to be using a Windows account with full admin privileges. Try bringing the administrator account back to life by using the tutorial here - //

    Once you've done that, run Windows under the adminstrator account. You should now be able to see the other accounts under "run as"

  36. James
    September 17, 2007 at 12:05 am

    I can't get this to work and I'm not sure why. I have two logins on my laptop, Owner, with full admin access, guest, and another one I just created, called James. When I try the Run As command however, it only shows me the one called Owner. Also, I tried to rename the Owner login, to Administrator, but it told me I couldn't as there was already one called that. It doesn't show up in the User Accounts box though.

    Can anyone shed any light on this for me please?

  37. mark
    September 12, 2007 at 9:51 am

    In German, the control panel is "systemsteuerung" which is "system setup"

  38. Aibek
    September 12, 2007 at 2:32 am

    Well it may not so obvious when you have non-English windows.

  39. Isaac G
    September 12, 2007 at 1:39 am

    Its called "Control Panel" instead of "System Setup"

  40. Dave
    September 11, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    I don't use Windows Live Messenger, but generally you can get the "run as" option by holding down the shift button while right-clicking the program's icon. Also, you can create shortcuts that will automatically start as another user. You will only be prompted for the password. I've done this at work. The instructions for doing this can be easily found with a Google search. Sometimes the syntax for the command can be tricky, but it's not too hard to do. Just practice your "run as" command from the run box until you figure out what works.

  41. ken
    September 11, 2007 at 5:13 am

    Mark: Thanks. I also am having second thoughts about using vista. Anyway, I guess, we should be able to use your recommendation on xp without a glitch and it's actually a news that it does not work on msn, so if anyone has a workaround, then that will be great.

    Just TOL (thinking out loud), what if someone is using those programs which help us to use all IM programs at once, like you open one program (i am not sure if it is called Trilian) and then u can use, msn, yahoo, etc, etc... so has anyone given it a try? if using multiple instances of such a program, then can you also actually use the 2 instances of the msn at the same time, through the use of such programs.

    anyone given it a try? will be nice to know.

  42. EngLee
    September 11, 2007 at 4:02 am

    Nice tip! But creating too many users may create lots of folders in Document and settings. But this is certainly a good hack that does not require any additional software or complicated hacks.

    By the way, let me correct you, in English version Windows, instead of "System Setup", it's "Control Panel".

  43. Eric
    September 11, 2007 at 3:27 am

    Good tip ... for Windows Live Messenger, there isn't any "run as" option when right-clicked on the program shortcut/link ... hmmm, wonder why, too.

  44. Ann Addison
    September 10, 2007 at 6:20 pm


  45. mark
    September 10, 2007 at 11:27 am

    Ken : Since I don't have Vista (and I don't plan to get it either), I can't help you out with the Vista question. Plus I don't use Outlook so I can't help you out there either. However, from a security point of view, I can assure you that everything is 100% secure. You don't need to make any adjustments to your firewall or anti-virus software if all the versions of the software are on the same computer. Everything will be protected.

    As for people mentioning it doesn't work with MSN Messenger, well that's news to me. I don't use MSN Messenger either but it's good to know this nevertheless. I wonder why this doesn't work?

    I'm sure you've worked this out already but in the article, I forgot to say that when you have your user accounts set up, you go to the link / icon of the program you want to run again and you RIGHT-CLICK on the link /icon to get the "run as" option. Somebody asked me how you got that little menu to pop up....

  46. Ali
    September 10, 2007 at 10:56 am

    This is a great idea, but it doesn't seem to work with Windows Live Messenger..?

  47. Ali
    September 10, 2007 at 10:52 am

    This is a great idea, but it doesnt seem to work with Windows Live Messenger.

  48. Bob Goh
    September 10, 2007 at 7:35 am

    This tips is brilliant! How come I never thought of this before?

  49. ken
    September 10, 2007 at 3:05 am

    Can this be used for windows Vista ultimate? I am planning to use WVU soon and can I have 2-3 instances of Microsoft Outlook running at the same time? And without any problem? And does it provide any more security? For example if User One is using Outlook to send / receive customer emails and User 2 is using Outlook to send / receive supplier emails. So for the purpose of not sending original supplier data to customer, isn't running multiple version of the same program an excellent idea??? What about firewalls and antivirus software, will they have to be installed for each user separately.

    Thanks for your time and sorry for many questions.

  50. Brainiac
    September 9, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    thank you for the nice tip, it's going to my bookmarks. ;-)