Simultaneously Collaborate on an Excel Workbook


October 08, 2021 - by Bill Jelen

Simultaneously Collaborate on an Excel Workbook

Problem: We have five co-workers who need to edit the same workbook.

Strategy: One person should open the workbook and save it to OneDrive or SharePoint Online. That person uses File, Share or the Share icon shown below to generate a sharing link. Send the link to anyone who needs to edit the workbook.


The Share button and a Comments button are in the top right of Excel, just below the buttons to minimize or maximize the window.
Figure 111. If the workbook is saved to OneDrive, using the Share icon.

You should generate an Editing link. If you use Outlook, you can send via this dialog in Excel.

Generating a sharing link. You can either enter an e-mail or choose Copy Link or Outlook.
Figure 112. Send a sharing link via Outlook.

Gotcha: If you are using OneDrive For Business and you share the link with someone outside of your company, built-in security features make this harder. The other person has to sign out of their Office 365 account. There are steps documented online where one Tenant can trust an external Tenant. But they are not obvious.

Gotcha: In many cases, the other person will follow the link and appear to be stuck in Excel Online. If this happens to you, the first step is to sign in to Excel Online and then use the Edit in Excel button. Don't choose Edit in Browser.

While you are co-authoring, Excel will frequently save your changes and those of everyone else. You will see a green cell pointer for your active cell and other colors for everyone else who is editing the document. Try to not have two people edit the same cell at the same time.

By the time you read this, Excel should allow each person co-authoring a document to apply a different filter to the data set. This is harder than you might think, because AGGREGATE and SUBTOTAL functions will be different on each computer if people filter to a different set of rows.

Additional Details: During co-authoring, Excel is saving every change automatically. If you realize that you made a mistake some time ago, you can use the drop-down arrow to the right of the file name and check version history.

Look in the Title bar. To the right of the workbook name, there is a drop-down arrow. Open that and the last menu item is Version History.
Figure 113. Use the new Version History to roll back to an earlier version of the file

This article is an excerpt from Power Excel With MrExcel

Title photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash



Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of:
Excel Dynamic Arrays Straight to the Point 2nd Edition

Fifteen months after Dynamic Arrays debuted for Office Insiders, the functions are being released to General Availability. This second edition of the book has been updated with new examples: see how Dynamic Arrays make XLOOKUP better. The chapter on the logic behind arrays has been expanded.