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How to Share an Excel 365 Workbook with Multiple Users

Participants who attend our Microsoft Excel training are often eager to learn how to share Excel workbooks with colleagues and business partners.

While you can save an Excel workbook to a shared folder on your company’s network – and Excel has always allowed changes by more than one user at the same time – it was difficult to share an Excel file with others not connected to the same network.

All of that has changed.

Microsoft introduced a feature called co-authoring and it’s so much easier to share workbooks with Excel for Microsoft 365!

What is Excel for Microsoft 365?

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Microsoft Excel has been around for decades. I started using Excel back in the 90’s. (Ugh… I’m so old!!)

Excel for Microsoft 365 is Microsoft’s industry leading spreadsheet application available with a subscription to Microsoft 365.

Excel for Microsoft 365 gets all of the new features right away and, as long as you’re a subscriber, you’ll always have the latest version of Excel.

Charts on a laptop screen

What is Co-Authoring?

Excel for Microsoft 365 includes a powerful new feature called co-authoring.

Co-authoring lets users share an Excel workbook with colleagues. Each person can view and edit the shared workbook and updates are visible right away – within seconds.

To utilize co-authoring, all you need is an Excel for Microsoft 365 subscription. Save the workbook to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or a SharePoint Online Library and you’re ready to start co-authoring!

Here is a video from Microsoft that provides an overview of co-authoring in Excel for Microsoft 365.

Which Versions of Excel Support Co-Authoring?

Currently, Excel for Android, Excel for iOS, Excel Mobile, and Excel for Microsoft 365 support co-authoring. If a user doesn’t have a supported version of Excel, all is not lost. These users can still edit shared workbooks in a web browser.

How to Share a Link to an Excel Workbook for Co-Authoring

Here is how you send a link to an 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

How to Open a Shared Workbook for Co-Authoring

If someone has shared an Excel workbook with you, you will receive a link via e-mail. When you click the link, a web browser will open and the shared workbook will open in Excel for the Web.

If you prefer to work with the file locally, click Edit in Desktop App. In order to use this option, the person opening the shared workbook must have a version of Excel that supports co-authoring.

Here is a screenshot of an Excel workbook that has been opened for co-authoring. Notice that the user, Bruce Willis, has currently selected cell A12.

Co-authoring options for shared Excel workbooks

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
The Manage Access screen showing current permissions

Parting Thoughts

Now that you’ve read about co-authoring with shared workbooks in Excel for Microsoft 365, are you going to give it a try?

It’s so easy to collaborate using shared workbooks. There are some huge benefits to working with colleagues and business partners in real time.

By Michael Belfry

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