Collaboration in Spreadsheets

In Spreadsheets, several people can work together in the same sheet — all edits are automatically shared in real time. Use permissions, revisions, and comments to create a seamless collaborative environment.

Assigning Permissions

All collaborators must have permission to access a Spreadsheet. If you are an Owner, you can check or grant permissions by clicking Permissions on the File tab. You can set permissions for the spreadsheet as a whole or just the current sheet.

Assigning Permissions

The Permissions editor shows the current groups and collaborators. Use the search box or scroll down the list to find specific collaborators. You can use the Filter button in the upper right corner of the editor to view collaborators by permission level.

Permissions Editor

You also have the option of using the Setting Advanced Permissions editor. The Advanced Permissions editor allows you to quickly adjust permissions to multiple sheets or sections at the same time. This editor is useful for a spreadsheet with lots of sheets.

Permissions can also be set from Home. To learn more, see Managing Document Permissions in Wdesk Home.

There are three permission levels:

  • Owners have full rights to the document and can manage permissions.

  • Editors can make changes to content and formatting.

  • Viewers can look at a spreadsheet but can’t make any changes.

Click the radio button next to a collaborator’s name to give them appropriate access.

To remove permission, hover over a collaborator’s name and click the that appears on the right.

Remove a collaborator

Authorship in Spreadsheets

After you assign permissions, collaborators can work together in a spreadsheet.

With several people working in a spreadsheet, it’s helpful to know which collaborator made changes, such as when you need to create an audit trail. When you are in a spreadsheet, you can see which cells other collaborators are actively working in by the cell outline color.

Color edits

You can also use the Authorship overlay to see which collaborators edited each cell in the current version of the spreadsheet.

To view the Authorship overlay:

Click the History icon in the right panel to open the History panel.
Click the Authorship toggle to turn on the overlay.

The authorship toggle

The Authorship legend shows each collaborator’s name next to their color. The cell(s) in the spreadsheet change to an author’s color to let you see the most recent edits at a glance.

Authorship overlay example


Revisions are groups of edits that are automatically saved every five minutes. From the History panel, you can view revisions to see who made a change and when. Click a revision to see the state of the document at the time of that revision.

Use the dropdown to Mark as a Milestone and add a title or remarks to a revision.

Click a revision to see the state of the document at the time of the revision. Revisions can’t be exported, but you can copy and paste this information into the current spreadsheet if needed.

The History Panel

Cell History

You can view an individual cell’s history directly in a sheet or from the History panel. When the Authorship overlay is on, you can hover over a cell to see who made the last change.

Collaboration in Authorship

To view a cell's history from the History panel:

Click the History icon to open the History panel.
Click the arrow in the upper right corner of the panel to see the drop-down menu.
Select Cell History.

Cell History

From your sheet, select the cell you want to view.

You can toggle between the history of an individual cell and the entire spreadsheet using the drop-down menu in the History panel.

Cell History

Comments in Spreadsheets

To add a comment in a spreadsheet:

Select a cell or group of cells.
Right-click the selection and choose Add Comment from the drop-down menu.
In the Comment panel, type your comment.
Click Post to add your comment.

Add a comment

Click the black arrow on the right of the comment to view additional options from the dropdown menu. If you are a document owner, you can create, reply to, resolve, move, or delete comments. If you are an editor or viewer, you can perform any of these actions but can only delete your own.

Clicking the Jump to Location icon shows you exactly where the comment is attached in your spreadsheet. To move through the comments in your spreadsheet, use the up and down arrows at the top of the Comments panel.

Add a comment

Click the Filter icon in the Comments panel filter your comments. Use the toggle at the top of the panel to Show my @mentions only.

Add a comment

A comment icon next to a sheet’s name in the outline panel indicates that there are comments in that sheet. Hover over the icon to see the number of comments in the sheet.

Add a comment