There are many reasons you’d want to know how to share an Excel file.
For example, many of Tiller’s subscribers use Microsoft Excel’s sharing features to seamlessly budget with their spouse, track shared expenses, or manage money with a financial planner or business partner.
Note that the current version of Excel included with a Microsoft 365 subscription provides the most robust sharing and co-authoring features.
Sharing vs Co-Authoring in Excel
Co-authoring and sharing are slightly different ways to work on an Excel file with someone else. Basic sharing is a feature of older versions of Excel, while more robust co-authoring features are only available in more recent versions.
Sharing an Excel file
When you share an Excel file, you can give others the ability to view, edit, or comment on the file. The file itself is sent via email, accessed on a shared network, or saved on a cloud-based storage service like OneDrive or Google Drive.
To share an Excel file:
- Save the Exel file in a secure location, such as your computer or a cloud storage service like Google Drive or OneDrive, where both parties have access to it.
- Share the file: Share the file with the person you are collaborating with, either by emailing it to them or sharing it via a file-sharing service. If you choose to email the file, consider encrypting it for added security.
- Set access permissions: Once the file has been shared, set access permissions to determine who can view, edit, or make changes to the spreadsheet. For example, you may want to set the permissions to “collaborate.”
- Use a password: Consider using a password to protect the information in the spreadsheet and limit access to only those who need it.
Co-authoring an Excel File
Co-authoring means multiple users can work on the same Excel file at the same time. Because the file is already stored in the cloud (such as OneDrive or SharePoint), each user sees changes made by others in seconds and can work on the file from their own device.
To invite someone to co-author an Excel workbook, follow these steps:
- Make sure the workbook is stored in a cloud-based solution that supports co-authoring, such as OneDrive or SharePoint.
- Right-click on the workbook and select “Share” or “Invite People.”
- Enter the email addresses of the people you want to invite, separated by a comma.
- Choose the level of access you want to grant to each person, such as “Can Edit” or “Can View.”
- Optionally, add a message to accompany the invitation.
- Click the “Send” button to send the invitation.
The people you invited will receive a link to the workbook and instructions on how to access it. Once they have access to the workbook, they can optionally co-author it with you in real-time.
- Read Best Practices for Coauthoring in Excel from Microsoft
Requirements for Co-Authoring an Excel Workbook
Excel Online, Excel for Microsoft 365, and Excel 2019 all support co-authoring. Earlier versions of Excel, such as Excel 2016, Excel 2013, or Excel 2010 only support sharing as described above.
Also, to co-author a workbook, anyone you invite must have a Microsoft account and an internet connection.
For more information, read the Microsoft Support article “Collaborate on Excel workbooks at the same time with co-authoring”
Granting access levels in a shared Excel workbook
You can grant levels of access to a shared workbook, such as “Can Edit,” “Can View,” or “Can Comment.”
The people you shared the workbook with will only be able to access the workbook according to the level of access you granted them. For example, if you granted someone “Can Edit” access, they will be able to make changes to the workbook, while someone with “Can View” access will only be able to view the workbook.
It’s also possible to revoke access to a shared workbook or change the level of access granted to a user at any time. To do so, simply go back to the “Share” or “Invite People” options and modify the access permissions as needed.
Note that sharing a workbook as read-only doesn’t prevent someone from downloading a copy of the workbook and making changes to their copy, but it does keep your original file intact