We’ve been able to share and collaborate in Excel files simultaneously with our co-workers for quite some time. However, recently there have been some significant improvements to the Excel co-authoring experience that will blow you away.
All you need to co-author in Excel is a Microsoft 365 subscription and an internet connection. You can even invite people from outside your organization who don’t have a Microsoft 365 subscription to collaborate with you.
Watch the Share and Collaborate in Excel Video
If you'd like to see how I built the workbook used in this example, please download it here. Note: it won't allow you to experience collaboration as this is something you need to instigate by sharing your file with others.
Enter your email address below to download the sample workbook.
Share and Collaborate in Excel Step by Step:
Sharing Excel Files
To share an Excel file with your co-workers from in or outside your organization:
- Make sure you’re signed into your Microsoft 365 account in Excel,
- Save your file to SharePoint Online or OneDrive
- Click the ‘Share’ button in the top right of the window:
Here you can specify what editing rights they’ll have (1) and then choose who to share the file with (2):
When someone else is editing the file, you’ll see their initials in the top right:
Clicking on the initials reveals what cell they’re working on and you can click the link to go to that cell location, open a contact card containing their email address, or start a group chat in Teams or Skype:
Note: people from outside your organization who aren’t logged into Microsoft 365 display as a Guest Contributor:
Make sure Autosave is turned on to see changes they make in the workbook within seconds after they’re entered.
New Threaded Comments allow you to string several comments together, including comments from other users, to form a conversation style thread. They’re inserted via the right-click menu, or the Insert and Review tabs:
By the way, the old style comments are now called ‘Notes’.
You can @ mention co-workers in comments which will trigger an email notification to them:
In Excel Online you can also assign a task when you at mention someone:
Each comment is automatically time stamped and replies are shown in a thread when clicking on the cell:
Alternatively, you can show all comments in the comment pane by clicking on the ‘Show Comments’ button on the Review tab:
More on at mentions and comments in different end points: Windows, MacOS, iOS, iPad, Web and Andriod here.
The Show Changes tool, currently only available in Excel Online*, enables you to keep track of edits to your workbooks across any end point: Desktop, Online, Mac, iOS, and iPad. They’re retained for 60 days allowing you to see who changed what, where and when, along with the previous value of the cell.
*[UPDATE] Show Changes is also now available in the Excel desktop app.
You can display the list of changes in a task pane via the Review tab > Show Changes:
Bulk changes are shown in the changes card allowing you to scroll through the list or collapse it via the ‘hide changes’ button:
You can reduce the list of changes to a specific cell, range of cells or sheet via the filter button:
Or by selecting the cell or range before right-clicking and showing changes.
To be clear, you can currently only see the Show Changes tool in Excel Online, but it will display changes made in Excel for the Desktop, Mac, iOS or iPad.
Show changes gives you the ability to revert to earlier edits on a cell by cell basis. Alternatively, you can use Version History to revert the file back to an earlier version:
This opens the Version History task pane where you can open earlier versions and restore them:
Sheet Views enables you to create a custom view of the file that allows you to sort and filter the data without affecting what other users currently in the file see. You can save these custom views and quickly switch in and out of them as required.
To create a Sheet View, click on the View tab > New (in the Sheet View group):
Excel automatically names your new view Temporary View to indicate the sheet view isn't saved yet. You’ll also notice the column and row labels are black with white font.
Apply the sorting and filtering that you want and then to save the view, click Temporary View in the sheet view menu, type the new sheet view name, and then press Enter or the Keep button.
When a Sheet View is applied, an eye symbol is visible in the worksheet tab name and hovering over the eye will display the sheet view name in a tooltip:
You can switch back to the original view by choosing ‘Default’ via the sheet views drop down:
Or simply click Exit:
Sheet View Options is where you’ll find tools to rename, duplicate and delete views:
Notes on Sheet View:
You can only use Sheet Views in a document that is stored in a SharePoint or OneDrive location.
Other people who share the workbook can see views you create via the sheet view drop down list.