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Microsoft Excel

How to Share Workbooks in Excel for Office 365

Microsoft makes it easy to share workbooks with other people in Excel for Office 365. There are 3 options for sharing workbooks – and you can use any of them without leaving the application.

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Option #1: Send Your Excel Workbook as a PDF

Sending an Excel file as a PDF can be a good option. The recipient won’t be able to make changes to your worksheet, but 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

Option #2: 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. Unlike a PDF, you’ll have no control over what they do with your spreadsheet but forwarding a copy of your Excel file is a convenient way to share data.

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. Like option #1 (sending a PDF), you’re able to write a brief e-mail to your contact before hitting send.

If you need to collaborate, a remote contact can update the spreadsheet and return it to you. This process won’t be as convenient as two people editing a file on the same network – but it will get the job done.

Option #3: Send a Link to a Shared Excel Workbook

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

Excel Shared Workbook Permissions

The default level of permission, when you send a link to a shared Excel workbook, is to allow editing. To change that setting, we would need to add one or two steps to the process outlined above in the section Option #3: Send a Link to a Shared Excel Workbook.

To send a link to a shared workbook while restricting the user to view-only permission:

  1. Click the Share button in the upper-right corner of Excel.
  2. Click on the Anyone with the link can edit button.
    The Link Settings dialog box appears.
  3. Clear the check box next to Allow Editing.
  4. Click Apply.
    The Send Link dialog box reappears.
  5. Enter a name or e-mail address and add a message (optional).
  6. Click Send.

You can also set an expiration date for access to the file – and add a password for an additional layer of security.

Configuring link settings for a shared Excel workbook
Link Settings dialog box

Co-Authoring a Shared Excel Workbook

So, what’s it like to use a shared Excel workbook? Most things work exactly the same as they normally would, but Excel lets you know that someone else has the file open.

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

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

Can You 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 Excel file?

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.

Assuming that’s not an option, you can simply attach a copy of the file to an e-mail and send it to your colleague.

Additional options for sharing Excel workbooks
Share dialog box

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By Michael Belfry

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