How to Collaborate on Documents in Real-Time in Office 2016

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Microsoft Office 2016 has improved their collaboration features so multiple authors can work on a document in real time. You can share a document in OneDrive and view who is working on it, and even get a link to send others for easy access to the document.

We’ll use Word in this article to illustrate how to collaborate on documents; however, this real-time collaboration feature is also available in Excel and PowerPoint.

To begin, open the document you want to share and click the “Share” button on the ribbon bar in the upper-right corner of the Word window.

NOTE: Before setting up your document to share, you need to make sure you have a shared folder in your OneDrive account. Or, you can use the “Public” folder that exists in your account by default.

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The “Share” pane displays. To save the document to the folder you shared in your OneDrive account, click “Save to Cloud”.

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On the “Save As” backstage screen, select the shared location to which you want to save your document, or click the “Browse” button to select a location in your OneDrive account not in the recent list.

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If needed, navigate to the shared folder on the “Save As” dialog box. If you want to change the name of the file, enter a new name in the “File name” edit box. Click “Save”.

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You are returned to the document and the “Share” pane connects and allows you to invite people to either view or edit the file or just view it. To invite someone to collaborate on the document, enter that user’s email address into the “Invite people” edit box. Select whether they “Can edit” or “Can view” from the drop-down list. If you want to send a custom message, enter it in the “Include a message” box. To share the document, click “Share”.

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The user is added to the list of people with whom you’ve shared the document.

You can also specify whether to “Always” or “Never” share changes automatically or to be asked (“Ask me”) every time a change is made by selecting an option from the “Automatically share changes” drop-down list.

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The user with whom you shared the document receives an email similar to the following image. They click “View in OneDrive” to access the document.

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NOTE: You can easily get a link to the shared document so you can email it to users by clicking “Get a sharing link” at the bottom of the “Share” pane.

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Two buttons display on the “Share” pane. If you want to send a link that allows a user to view and edit the document, click the “Create an edit link” button. To send a link that only allows a user to view the document, and not edit it, click the “Create a view-only link” button.

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The “Edit link” box displays containing the URL to access the document with the appropriate permissions. Click the “Copy” button to the right of the box to copy the URL so you can share the link in email, for example.

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Clicking the link the user receives in email opens the document in the online version of the appropriate Office 2016 app.

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When the user starts editing the document, a popup displays telling you that a “Guest is editing this document”.

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Changes made by the other person display as highlighted text in your instance of the document.

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If you allowed a user to edit a document, and then changed your mind, you can easily change permissions for that user. Right-click on the user’s name in the list and select “Change permission to: Can view”. You can also go the other way, giving a user permission to edit the document after only allowing them to view it.

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If you’re done sharing the document with a user, you can stop allowing the user to view or edit the document. Right-click on the user’s name in the list and select “Remove User” from the popup menu.

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To close the “Share” pane, click the “X” in the upper-right corner of the pane.

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Whether you’re working on a large or small project, this new collaboration feature in Office 2016 with real-time editing and cloud integration with OneDrive is powerful.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.