How to Work Together in Real-Time in Microsoft Office on the Web

You and your friends, coworkers, or family can work together from anywhere. Here’s how to collaborate in Microsoft Office for the web.

Whether you want to work together on a document with family, coworkers, or friends, Microsoft Office for the web makes real-time collaboration easy.

You and your family can gather activities for a vacation. You and your office team can create a slideshow for your presentation. Or you and your pals can plan a party. With Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for the web, you can see each other’s edits in real-time and use comments to communicate. Here’s how to collaborate in Microsoft Office online.

Start by Sharing the Document

To work together on any Office document, you’ll need to share it first. And it works the same in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint online.

Click the Share button and add others you want to share with using their name or email address. You can assign permissions to allow others to make changes or simply view the document. If you prefer, you can also copy the link and share it a different way like in a text message or email.

Share a document to collaborate in Microsoft Office

Collaborate in Real-Time

Once your invitees accept your invitation and open the document, you can see each other’s contributions in real-time.

As an example, the screenshot below shows the other person has selected a cell in Excel. This is indicated by their initials. Plus, you can see when they are typing by the dots indicator. Then, their change or addition will appear almost instantly.

See edits in Excel in real-time

You can also click the initials next to the Share button at the top for someone who is currently working on the document. You can then go to that location, or in Excel and PowerPoint, see what they are working on.

See where a collaborator is editing

View Changes Later

If you believe edits are made to a document outside of the time you’re viewing it, you can easily see what’s changed at any time. In any of the three applications, click File > Info and select Version History.

Info, Version History in PowerPoint online

You can then select a version to review by date and time or user.

Use Version History to collaborate in Microsoft Office

If you’re using Excel for the web, you can also go to Review > Show Changes.

Show Changes in Excel online

Communicate With Comments

Premium versions of Microsoft Office for the web have a chat feature. But for others, you can simply use comments to communicate.

To insert a comment, either right-click and pick New Comment or click the Comments button at the top and then click New in the sidebar.

Add a comment to collaborate in Microsoft Office

Add your comment and hit the Send button. Others can see your comment by placing their cursor over the comment indicator within the document or opening the Comments sidebar.

View a comment in Excel online

They can then type in the Reply box for the comment to answer you. All replies are kept with the comment in a thread, making it easy to keep notes organized.

Use comment threads to collaborate in Microsoft Office

Click the three dots on the top right of a comment to edit, delete, or resolve it.

Edit, Delete, or Resolve a comment

Resolving a comment basically means it’s been completed, or at least, the comments have been addressed. You can still view resolved comments the same way as active ones. They’ll simply display “Resolved” at the top and appear collapsed and less noticeable in the sidebar.

Resolved comment

Collaborate Like You’re All in the Same Room

Whether for business or pleasure, a company report, or a family budget, Microsoft Office makes it easy to work together online. So remember how to use the real-time collaboration features in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for the web.

For additional ways to work with others, take a look at how to share notes and notebooks in OneNote, share your screen in Microsoft Teams, or collaborate in Apple’s products (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote).

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