Use Office Online to work together in Office 365

When Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents are stored in your Office 365 libraries, you can work together on them using Office Online, which opens the documents in a web browser.

When you open documents in Office Online, your teammates can open them at the same time. That means you don’t have to wait for Tom to finish adding his information to a spreadsheet before you can enter yours. You finish sooner because you don’t have to take turns.

You might send out a link, inviting people to work on a document with you. As you see each other’s updates you can talk to each other and share ideas, resulting in a document that’s truly a team effort.

Begin by storing documents in your OneDrive library or team site (If you have Office 2010 or later, you can save directly from your Office program to the team site or OneDrive library).

Click a document’s name to open it in Office Online.

OneDrive with file selected

If your colleagues are online, try chatting while you work together, or start an impromptu meeting.


To help your teammates get to the document quickly, send them a link: next to the document’s name, click Open Menu, and then click Share.

OneDrive with file selected and Share button being pushed

Note: For more information about sharing documents in Office 365, see Share items in your SharePoint OneDrive and Share SharePoint files or folders in Office 365.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re working with others:

Word documents and OneNote notebooks    It’s okay if some people are working in the Word or OneNote desktop program while others are working in an Office Online program. In the desktop programs, co-authoring works best in the most recent version of Office (Mac and Windows), but is also supported in Office 2010. Whether you’re working in the desktop program or Office Online, updates are handled differently in OneNote and Word:

  • OneNote notebooks show updates immediately.

  • In Word documents, save the document to share your updates and to see others’ updates.

Excel workbooks    Everyone opens the workbook in Excel Online. The workbook displays updates immediately. If someone opens the workbook in the Excel desktop program, everyone is locked out of the workbook until that person closes it.

PowerPoint presentations    For best results, everyone opens the presentation in PowerPoint for the web or in PowerPoint 2013. People who open the presentation in PowerPoint 2013 might have problems saving the file if others are making updates to the presentation in PowerPoint for the web.

For details about co-authoring in Office Online, see Work together in Office Online.

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