How to share an Excel file

This section shows how to share an Excel workbook for multiple users by saving it to a local network location where other people can access it and make edits. You can keep track of those changes and accept or reject them.

With the workbook open, perform the following steps to share it:

  1. On the Review tab, in the Changes group, click the Share Workbook button.
    Sharing an Excel workbook
  2. The Share Workbook dialog box will appear, and you select the Allow changes by more than one user at the same time. This also allows workbook merging check box on the Editing tab.
    Allow changes by more than one user at the same time.
  3. Optionally, switch to the Advanced tab, select the desired settings for tracking changes, and click OK.

    For example, you may want to have changes updated automatically every n number of minutes (all the other settings on the screenshot below are the default ones).

  4. Select the desired settings for tracking changes.

  5. Save you Excel file to a network location where other people can access it (the fastest way is by using the Ctrl + S shortcut).

If done correctly, the word [Shared] will appear to the right of the workbook's name as shown in the screenshot below:
Excel shared workbook

Now, you and your colleagues can work on the same Excel file at the same time. You are free to accept or reject their changes, and after the desired changes have been incorporated, you can stop sharing the workbook. Further on in this tutorial, you will find the details on how to do all this.

Note. If Microsoft Excel refuses to share a certain workbook, most likely it's because of one of the following reasons:

  1. Workbooks that have tables or XML maps cannot be shared. So, be sure to convert your tables to rangesand remove the XML maps before sharing your Excel file.
  2. To be able to share a workbook, some privacy settings need to be disabled. Go to FileExcel OptionsTrust Center, click the Trust Center Settings… button, and under the Privacy Options category, uncheck the Remove personal information from file properties on save box.

How to share Excel workbook and protect change tracking

If you'd like not only to share an Excel file, but also to ensure that no one turns off the change history or removes the workbook from shared use, proceed in this way:

  1. On the Review tab, in the Changes group, click the Protect and Share Workbook button.
  2. The Protect Shared Workbook dialog window will show up, and you select the Sharing with track changescheck box.
  3. Type a password in the Password (Optional) box, click OK, and then retype the password to confirm it.

    Though entering a password is optional, you'd better do it. Otherwise, there's little sense in using this option, because anyone would be able to remove the protection and thus stop the workbook sharing.

  4. Save the workbook.

Share Excel workbook and protect change tracking.

Clicking OK in the above dialog box will change the Protect and Share Workbook button on the ribbon to Unprotect Shared Workbook, and clicking this button will both remove the protection from the shared workbook and stop sharing it.