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 “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).) Also, 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. 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 allowed 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.

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 working 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!

Salaudeen Rajack

Salaudeen Rajack is a SharePoint Architect with Two decades of SharePoint Experience. He loves sharing his knowledge and experiences with the SharePoint community, through his real-world articles!

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