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Microsoft Excel

How to Share an Excel Workbook for Easy Collaboration

Microsoft makes it easy to share workbooks with other Excel users on your team. There are several options for sharing workbooks and they’re all super easy!

How to Share an Excel File With Multiple Users

Sending a link to a shared Excel workbook allows for real time collaboration. Microsoft refers to this capability as co-authoring – and the technology is pretty cool!

As long as your Excel workbook is saved on OneDrive, multiple users can collaborate on the spreadsheet at the same time. It’s the easiest way to share workbooks in Excel.

To send a link to a shared Excel workbook:

  1. Click the Share button in the upper-right corner of Excel.
  2. Enter a name or e-mail address and add a message (optional).
  3. Click Send.
The Send Link dialog box
Send Link dialog box

Co-Authoring in a Shared Excel Workbook

So, what is co-authoring in a shared Excel workbook like? Most things work exactly the same as they normally do, but Excel indicates that someone else has the file open and lets you know which cell they’re currently editing.

In the screen capture below, you can see that another user (Bruce Willis) has the spreadsheet open and is currently working in cell A12.

Co-authoring options for shared Excel workbooks
Additional User

Here is a video from Microsoft that provides an overview of the co-authoring experience.

How to Stop Sharing an Excel Workbook

To stop sharing an Excel workbook:

  1. Click the Share button in the upper-right corner of Excel.
    The Send Link dialog box appears.
  2. Click the 3 dots next to the Send Link heading and select Manage Access.
  3. Click the X next to the URL in the Anyone with the link can edit box to remove anonymous access for anyone with a link.
  4. Click the Can edit drop down menu below any additional user accounts listed and select Stop sharing.
  5. Close the Manage Access dialog box.
Click Manage Access in the Send Link dialog box
Send Link dialog box
The Manage Access screen showing current permissions
Manage Access dialog box

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Two Ways to Share an Excel Workbook Without OneDrive

What happens if your organization doesn’t want you to store Excel files on OneDrive? Can you still share your spreadsheet?

Here’s the thing. If you save your file to a location other than OneDrive then click Share, Excel will prompt you to upload a copy of your workbook to OneDrive.

If you want to share an Excel workbook without using OneDrive, you can simply attach a copy of your spreadsheet to an e-mail and send it to a colleague or business partner. You can attach the workbook as a normal Excel file or send it as a PDF.

Additional options for sharing Excel workbooks
Share dialog box

Here are two ways you can share a copy of an Excel workbook without using OneDrive.

Method #1: Send a Copy of Your Excel Workbook

Sending a copy of an Excel workbook is useful if your contact needs to make changes or add data to the spreadsheet. Forwarding a copy of your Excel file via e-mail is an effective way to share data when OneDrive isn’t an option.

Here is how you send a copy of your Excel Workbook:

  1. Click the Share button in the upper-right corner of Excel.
  2. Click the Send a Copy button at the bottom of the Send Link dialog box.
  3. Click Excel Workbook.

A blank e-mail will open with the current workbook attached. You can write a brief e-mail to your contact before hitting send.

If you need to collaborate, your contact can update the spreadsheet and return it to you.

Admittedly, this process isn’t as convenient as the co-authoring option described at the beginning of the article – but it will get the job done!

Method #2: Send an Excel Workbook as a PDF

Sending an Excel file as a PDF can be a good option when you don’t want the recipient to make changes to your worksheet. They can print or distribute the file as needed.

Here is how you send your spreadsheet as a PDF:

  1. Click the Share button in the upper-right corner of Excel.
  2. Click the Send a Copy button at the bottom of the Send Link dialog box.
  3. Click PDF.

A blank e-mail will open with a PDF copy of the spreadsheet added as an attachment. Just write a quick e-mail to your contact and hit send!

Using the Send Link dialog box to share an Excel workbook
Send Link dialog box

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.