Workbook Sharing in Microsoft Excel


First, if you are sharing a workbook, you may want to consider moving to an Access database, which is more suited to sharing. See Which Application to Use.

This information is also contained in the Excel Help files but it was very difficult to find in Excel 2003.

Did you know that multiple users can edit the same workbook at the same time? This is especially useful in a typical office environment, where files are shared over a network. To share your workbook:

  1. Open the workbook, go to the Tools menu and choose Share Workbook.
  2. On the Editing tab, select Allow changes by more than one user at the same time.
  3. On the Advanced tab, select the “Automatically every ___ ” option, and then click OK.

When you save the workbook, the workbook is now shared with others, and changes to the workbook are updated every 15 minutes by default.

Warning: There are some limitations to this feature!

Unavailable featureAlternatives 
Insert or delete blocks of cellsYou can insert entire rows and columns. 
Delete worksheetsNone 
Merge cells or split merged cellsNone 
Add or change conditional formatsExisting conditional formats continue to appear as cell values change, but you can't change these formats or redefine the conditions. 
Add or change data validationCells continue to be validated when you type new values, but you can't change existing data validation settings.
Create or change charts or PivotChart reportsYou can view existing charts and reports. 
Insert or change pictures or other objectsYou can view existing pictures and objects. 
Insert or change hyperlinksExisting hyperlinks continue to work.
Use drawing toolsYou can view existing drawings and graphics. 
Assign, change, or remove passwordsExisting passwords remain in effect.
Protect or unprotect worksheets or the workbookExisting protection remains in effect.
Create, change, or view scenariosNone 
Group or outline dataYou can continue to use existing outlines. 
Insert automatic subtotalsYou can view existing subtotals.
Create data tables You can view existing data tables.
Create or change PivotTable reportsYou can view existing reports. 
Write, record, change, view, or assign macrosYou can run existing macros that don't access unavailable features. You can record shared workbook operations into a macro stored in another non-shared workbook. 
Add or change Microsoft Excel 4 dialog sheetsNone 
Change or delete array formulasExisting array formulas continue to calculate correctly.