Co-Authoring Feature in SharePoint Online

Overview of Co-authoring in SharePoint Online

What is Co-Authoring in SharePoint Online? Well, Co-Authoring feature in SharePoint Online and OneDrive allows multiple users to edit documents and collaborate concurrently in real-time. By default, documents in SharePoint Online document libraries are enabled with co-authoring. When multiple users edit one document (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) simultaneously, the other user’s changes will be reflecting everyone! In simple words, when everyone is working at the same time, that’s called co-authoring.

Prerequisites: Co-authoring feature doesn’t work when you enable the “Require check out” option or when you explicitly check out a document! It works on Office Online and in locally installed client applications with modern Office documents (.docx (Word), .pptx (PowerPoint), and .xlsx (Excel).) Moreover, all co-authors must have edit permissions and be connected online.

How to Co-Author Office Documents in SharePoint Online?

Co-authoring documents in SharePoint Online is seamless. This feature is designed to improve collaboration and enhance productivity by enabling teams to work together on a document, spreadsheet or presentation in real-time. To illustrate how the co-authoring feature works, just go to any document library in SharePoint Online and simply edit the document (either in the client application or in the browser). E.g. If you have a Word document, select the document >> Click on “Edit Document” > Choose either “Edit in Browser” or “Edit in Word” menu items from the toolbar. You may get a prompt from the office client (E.g. Word 2016) to allow you to co-author the document, click on “Yes”.

Overview of Co-authoring in SharePoint Online

Once you open the document in edit mode and allow co-authoring, immediately, you’ll see if any other users are working on this document. Here we see users who are typing away on the document and see exactly what they are typing. We also get an indication in the top right-hand corner about people who are editing this document under the “Share” menu. SharePoint Online also provides a version history of the document, so users can view previous versions and revert to an earlier version if needed.

co-authoring feature in sharepoint online

You’ll not only see that there are multiple users editing the document, but also an indication of where they are working inside that document.

If we’re editing the document in the browser, you’ll get a similar view. Also, the web version allows us to auto-save in the background. You can simply close out that document and SharePoint will then automatically update your document.

Collaborating with Multiple Users

When multiple users work on a document, you’ll see an indication at the top. You can click on them to see their contact card and see who they are. Also, you can invite additional people to work with this document. We can use instant messaging features from the contact card to chat with these people directly, which makes it nice and easy to collaborate.

Disable co-authoring in SharePoint Online

By default, office documents support the ability to co-author, so that you can work on them together at the same time with multiple authors. But there are some cases, you may want to be able to work on a file exclusively!

We can get exclusive access to a document by checking out the document. To disable co-authoring, Just right-click on the file >> More >> Choose the “Checkout” option. Now that gives exclusive access to that document, and you’ll see a little green arrow in the document indicating that you have exclusive access to that document. Once you are finished with it, you need to check that document back in and make it available for others to work.

disable co-authoring in sharepoint online

Once the document is checked out, no one can edit the document. However, read-only access to the document is available to all users until it’s checked-in back. So, to enable co-authoring in SharePoint Online, the document should not be checked out!

Wrapping up

In conclusion, the co-authoring feature in SharePoint Online is a powerful feature for teams who are working together on a project or document. With the ability to collaborate in real-time and access to a range of other collaboration and productivity features, SharePoint Online makes it easier for teams to work together and achieve their goals. Whether you are working in the office or remotely, SharePoint Online co-authoring can help you to be more productive and efficient.

Salaudeen Rajack

Salaudeen Rajack - Information Technology Expert with Two-decades of hands-on experience, specializing in SharePoint, PowerShell, Microsoft 365, and related products. He has held various positions including SharePoint Architect, Administrator, Developer and consultant, has helped many organizations to implement and optimize SharePoint solutions. Known for his deep technical expertise, He's passionate about sharing the knowledge and insights to help others, through the real-world articles!

One thought on “Co-Authoring Feature in SharePoint Online

  • Is there any kind of SharePoint page where co-authoring is possible? I did some test on Modern site pages and it cannot be edited without getting it checked out. My main purpose here is enabling users to edit a page simultaneously to create Wiki pages that undergo frequent edits from multiple users. A user won’t be waiting until another user has done editing and checked in and published the page.


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