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Guide to sharing documents in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

Updated on July 17, 2013

How to share a workbook in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

In our increasingly globalised world, the ability to share workbooks is becoming more and more central to how many teams function. Teams can and often do contain members from all around the world and being able to share their documents can greatly enhance collaboration. Sharing documents also provides additional benefits:

  • Working from a shared spreadsheet allows people to use the same document rather than everyone making changes to their own individual “version” and then combining them later on to form a master document
  • It is a far more efficient way of working and also reduces the possibility of data loss and duplication of effort as the creation of multiple versions of the same file is avoided
  • All changes to the spreadsheet can be tracked so that all edits made to it are recorded in either in the original or a separate document
  • The way Excel deals with conflicting changes between users can be configured so that it can best be avoided
  • You can see at a glance who has your shared document open
  • Document Inspector can check your document and ensure that you are not unnecessarily sharing personal or sensitive data
  • Compatibility Checker allows you to ensure that older versions of Excel will be able to view your document without any problems

How to share a workbook in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
How to share a workbook in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source

Considerations before you share a document in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

How you share your document, whether you password protect all or some of your document and what people will be able to edit depends entirely on your situation and also the purpose of your document.

  • It is always wise to use the most restrictive method possible while still allowing people to perform the tasks required of them. In other words if people don’t need to do something (or you don’t want them to), then prevent them from being able to do it.
  • Macros cannot be viewed or edited in a shared spreadsheet
  • Before sharing the document and allowing people to make edits, ensure that their Excel usernames are unique so it is easier to track who has the workbook open.
  • Workbooks can be protected without sharing them
  • Before sharing your document, run the Document Inspector and the Compatibility Checker Utilities

To learn more about password protecting and securing your documents, I have written a detailed hub on that topic. It covers:

  • Protecting a workbook, worksheet or even a range of cells
  • Encrypting documents
  • Granting users read only permission to spreadsheets
  • Allowing or denying people the right to do very specific things to a workbook including; editing objects, deleting rows or columns, sorting or using even pivot tables
  • Stopping users from changing, adding, removing worksheets or changing the size and position of windows

This hub can be found here:

http://robbiecwilson.hubpages.com/hub/Sharing-and-protecting-documents-in-Excel-2007

Changing the user name in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

In order to ensure that everyone’s Excel has a unique and accurate user name, it is good practice to configure this field if it has not already been done by your IT department. To change it in Excel 2007:

  • Click on the Office button and select Excel Options
  • Next, choose Popular and then in the Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office section Change the User name to something more appropriate, either your full name or your username and then click OK

How to change your Excel user name in Excel 2007.
How to change your Excel user name in Excel 2007. | Source

In Excel 2010:

  • Select the File Menu and then Options
  • Choose the General tab and enter your name in the User name box in the Personalize Your Copy of Microsoft Office section

Sharing a Workbook in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

To share a workbook in Excel:

  • Click the Share Workbook button in the Changes group on the Review tab
  • Select Allow changes by more than one user at the same time on the Editing tab

Note: the editing tab contains a list of who has the workbook open. You can select a user and press Remove User to close the workbook for a specific user if the need arises.

  • Once Allow changes by more than one user at the same time has been selected navigate to the Advanced tab

This will allow you to:

  • Control how long you track changes that are made to the document
  • Decide when changes are saved to the workbook
  • Finally, you can decide how to deal with any conflicts should a conflict arise
  • Change these to meet your own specific requirements or leave them as default and click OK.

Tracking and conflict resolution options available when sharing a document in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Tracking and conflict resolution options available when sharing a document in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source
  • Excel will then invite you to save the document.

When you open the workbook you will now notice that Excel has appended [Shared] to the original file name to advise users that the workbook is shared.

Sharing a Workbook with track changes enabled in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

In addition to just sharing a document, you may wish to also track all changes to that document and have them approved before they are committed to the workbook. You may, for example, be working on a workbook where all changes to it have to be approved by a manager or by Human Resources, in which case enabling track changes would be appropriate. To do this:

  • Select the Protect and Share Workbook button in the Changes group on the Review tab
  • Click Sharing with track changes and add a Password, then click OK
  • Re-enter the Password and click OK one final time
  • Excel will now ask to save the document, click OK

If you have macros enabled, Excel will advise that macros cannot be viewed or edited in a shared workbook, click OK to this warning

Tracking Changes in a shared workbook with track changes enabled in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

Now that we have track changes enabled, we will need to approve or reject those changes. To begin:

  • On the Review tab in the Changes group, select the Track Changes button and then select Highlight Changes
  • When can be changed to Since I last Saved, All, Not Yet Reviewed and Since a specific date. Choose the option that best fits which changes you need to review
  • Who can also be adjusted to Everyone, Everyone but Me and also to specific people
  • Finally, Where can also be configured to specific parts of the workbook

I recommend leaving Highlight changes on screen and List changes on a new sheet as default

Configuring how Excel treats Highlighting Tracked Changes in an Excel 2007 or Excel 2010 workbook.
Configuring how Excel treats Highlighting Tracked Changes in an Excel 2007 or Excel 2010 workbook. | Source

Now when a cell is changed, Excel highlights this as you can seen below

Note: when data is deleted from a cell as it has been in cells E17 and E19, these cells are also highlighted.

Note: the columns and rows that contain cells with highlighted changes are coloured purple as you can also see below.

How Excel highlights cells with tracked changes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
How Excel highlights cells with tracked changes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source
  • To approve or reject changes, select the Track changes button once more, but this time select Accept / Reject changes
  • Excel will save the workbook, so click OK on the pop up warning
  • A Select Changes to Accept or Reject dialogue box will now open

Configuring which tracked changes you will Accept or Reject in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Configuring which tracked changes you will Accept or Reject in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source
  • Change, the When, Who and Where options to meet your needs
  • Excel will now invite you to Accept or Reject Changes. You can Accept, Reject, Accept All or Reject All

Example of Accepting or Rejecting tracked changes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Example of Accepting or Rejecting tracked changes in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source

Now you have reviewed all the current changes, I would recommend changing Highlight Changes to Not Yet Reviewed so that all currently Accepted or Rejected changes are no longer highlighted.

Changing how Excel highlights tracked changes so that reviewed changes are no longer highlighted in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Changing how Excel highlights tracked changes so that reviewed changes are no longer highlighted in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source

Using Document Inspector to check a document for hidden data and personal information in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

Before sharing a document, it is a very good idea to ensure that the workbook doesn’t contain any personal information or hidden data that you don’t want other people to know or see. To run the Document Inspector:

  • Click the Office button (File menu in Excel 2010)
  • Select Prepare (choose Info then Check for Issues in Excel 2010)
  • Press Inspect Document
  • Choose Inspect and Excel will check your document for everything listed below

Document Inspector in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 can check your document for hidden and personal data.
Document Inspector in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 can check your document for hidden and personal data. | Source

Note: you must run the inspector before sharing the document; otherwise Excel will be unable to run many of the above checks.

Examples of what the Document Inspector can find in a document in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Examples of what the Document Inspector can find in a document in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source
  • Excel now reports back on what it has found. I now have the option to Remove All, Re-inspect or Close
  • Follow through on each of Excels recommendations and remove or ignore those suggestions

Once you are happy that your document contains no hidden or personal data, you can safely share the workbook.

Using Compatibility Checker to check for features not supported in earlier Excel versions in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

A number of new features in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 will not display correctly in older versions of Excel. If anyone who will be viewing your documents is using an Excel version older than 2007, it is a very good idea to run the workbook through the compatibility checker to find out if anything in your spreadsheet won’t work in their version of Excel. To run compatibility checker:

Choose the Office button (File menu in Excel 2010)

  • Click Prepare (choose Info then Check for Issues in Excel 2010)
  • Select Run Compatibility Checker

Excel will come back with the list of features that you are using and will be degraded or lost of opened in a previous versions of Excel. Excel divides them into two categories:

  • Significant loss of functionality and
  • Minor loss of fidelity

Example of issues discovered by Compatibility Checker in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Example of issues discovered by Compatibility Checker in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source

Note: if you have a large number to look at, I recommend that you click Copy to a New Sheet.

Example of the output from the Compatibility Checker in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Example of the output from the Compatibility Checker in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source

You can see from the figure above that Excel has explained the issues found by the checker and given me a link to the cells that are affected.

I can now resolve the issues listed (where possible) and rerun the Compatibility Checker to ensure that the document is compatible.

Note: for those incompatibilities that you cannot fix, I would recommend adding a notation to the worksheet warning users who have older versions of Excel that they will experience an issue

Un-sharing a Workbook in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010

If you decide that you no longer wish to share a workbook, simply reverse the option you chose to share it. So either:

  • Select the Share Workbook button on the Review tab and clear Allow changes by more than one user at the same time, click OK and then Yes on the warning

Warning box received when un-sharing a workbook in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010.
Warning box received when un-sharing a workbook in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010. | Source

OR

  • Click the Unprotect Shared Workbook button again on the Review tab
  • Enter the Password that you set originally
  • Click Yes on the warning as above

Note: when you un-share the workbook, the change history will be erased and anyone currently using the workbook will be unable to save their changes.

Conclusion

Sharing workbooks in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 allows users to collaborate using a single shared workbook even when those users work in different offices or geographical locations.

Sharing spreadsheets:

  • Is a far more efficient way of working and eliminates individuals working on their own versions of a spreadsheet.
  • All changes can be tracked so that all edits made to the document are recorded
  • Potential document conflicts can be managed so that they can be avoided
  • You can see at a glance who has the document open at any time
  • You can utilise Document Inspector to ensure that your workbook doesn’t contain personal or hidden data
  • Compatibility Checker allows you to confirm that versions of Excel older than Excel 2007 will be able to view your document without any issues

Many thanks for reading; I hope that you have found this hub useful and informative. Please feel free to leave any comments you may have below.

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      Robbie C Wilson 4 years ago

      Thanks for your kind comment, glad that you found my hub useful.

    • jabelufiroz profile image

      Firoz 4 years ago from India

      Well explained on Guide to sharing documents in Excel.