MVPs for Office and SharePoint 2010: Using co-authoring features in Office 2010, Office Web Apps, and Office for Mac 2011

Editor's Note: The following is a guest post by MVP Stephanie Krieger as part of the MVP Award Program Blog's "MVPs for Office and SharePoint 2010" series. Stephanie Krieger is a Microsoft Office System MVP and the
author of two books on Microsoft Office document production. As a professional
document consultant, she has helped many global companies develop enterprise
solutions for Microsoft Office on both platforms and taught numerous
professionals to build great documents by understanding how the Office programs
“think.” You can reach Stephanie through her blog,,
where you can find links to more content and get information as it becomes
available on her upcoming book for Office 2010 and Office for Mac 2011. Stephanie would like to thank fellow Office System MVP Beth
Melton for help with the screenshots for this article.

Using co-authoring features in Office 2010, Office Web Apps, and Office for Mac 2011

I work for myself, so I often have the privilege of working
on my own schedule. Except, that is, when working on projects with others.
Collaboration can be a fun and creative process — and the results can be
fantastic — but not when you have to wait your turn to edit a document or wait
for someone who checked out the file and then left for the day without checking
it back in. Sound familiar?

Well, fortunately, the days of waiting in line to get your
work done are over. Now everyone can work on their own schedule — at least when
it comes to editing your documents.

Microsoft Office 2010 enables technology known as
co-authoring, which gives you the ability to edit the same file at the same
time as people in other locations. No more waiting in line to get your work
done, no more getting locked out of your files, and more options for real-time
collaboration with your team.

What applications enable co-authoring?

You can use co-authoring in the Office 2010 versions of Word
and PowerPoint. Co-authoring via shared notebooks is also available in
Microsoft OneNote 2010. And, simultaneous editing is also available in
Microsoft Excel Web App and OneNote Web App.

So, how do you give it a try? Let’s jump into the details.

Get started: Save your files to the cloud


Storing your files online is easy and it brings a lot of
benefits like backup and easy access to your stuff from almost anywhere. But my
favorite thing about this technology is that it’s not just for big companies —
it’s available to everybody. 

  • Businesses can use co-authoring within the
    enhanced security of their own firewall when they have Microsoft SharePoint
    2010 installed in the organization. 
  • Everyone else (such as students, home users, and
    independent contractors like me) can take advantage of co-authoring technologies
    just by having a free Windows Live ID.

For SharePoint 2010 users

To get started using co-authoring with Office 2010, just
save your Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, or Excel files to a SharePoint 2010 site.
You can do this directly from within the Office 2010 applications (as shown in
Figure 1) or from SharePoint.

Note: For
co-authoring in Excel Web App or OneNote Web App via SharePoint 2010, Microsoft
Office Web Apps must be installed in your organization.

For everybody else

Windows Live SkyDrive is a free (yep –free) service that
gives you 25GB of online storage space for documents and photos, gives you
access to Office Web Apps, and to co-authoring capabilities in Office 2010 and
Office Web Apps.

Note: If your
Windows Live ID is connected to a Hotmail account – you now get very cool
integration with Office Web Apps for Word, PowerPoint, and Excel file
attachments to the emails you receive, such as the ability to view your files
in Office Web Apps right from your Hotmail inbox.

Figure 1: To save your document, presentation, or workbook
to SkyDrive or SharePoint directly from the applicable Office 2010 program
(Word 2010 shown here), click the File tab to go to Backstage view and then
click Save & Send. Click Save to Web to access SkyDrive options as shown
here, or click Save to SharePoint to access your SharePoint site. If you have
not yet logged into SkyDrive from within Office 2010, you see the option to do
so from this location. And both Save to Web and Save to SharePoint remember
your locations by default.

Co-authoring in Word and PowerPoint

You can simultaneously edit Word 2010 documents and
PowerPoint 2010 presentations in those Office 2010 applications on your

After you save your file online to SharePoint 2010 or
SkyDrive, open the file for editing in Word 2010 or PowerPoint 2010 on your
computer. When someone else opens the same file for editing while you have it
open in Word 2010 or PowerPoint 2010, from the same SharePoint or SkyDrive
location, you automatically begin a co-authoring session.

Note: If you work
on a Mac or work with others who work on that platform, you can also save to
SkyDrive or SharePoint from the Office for Mac 2011 versions of Word, Excel, or
PowerPoint and you can use coauthoring in both Word for Mac 2011 and PowerPoint
for Mac 2011. 

  • See a notification pop up from the Status bar at
    the bottom of the screen when someone else opens your file for editing while
    you’re still in it. 
  • You see changes from other editors after they
    save the file and they see your changes when you save. If someone makes changes
    to the same copy of the document when they have it offline (such as if they
    open the file for editing and then leave the office with it still open on their
    laptop), their changes automatically sync the next time they are online and you
    then see those changes as well. 
  • View the number of current editors at any time
    on the Status bar (as shown in Figure 2) and click that notification to see
    names and contact information for other current editors, and to instantly start
    communicating with other editors right from within Word or PowerPoint. 
  • Depending on your instant messaging software,
    you may also be able to view information about current editors and initiate
    communication with them from the Microsoft Office Backstage view.

Note: To see
contact card information (including availability information, also called presence) and communicate with other
current editors from Word or PowerPoint, they need to be contacts of yours in
your default instant messaging program. Supported programs for viewing presence
and initiating IM conversations include Windows Live Messenger and other
programs that support IMessenger. If you use Microsoft Lync Server 2010 with
Microsoft Lync 2010 (or Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2 with
Microsoft Communicator 2007 R2 or another application that supports
IMessengerAdvanced), you can see presence information and initiate IM or voice
calls from within Word 2010 or PowerPoint 2010, and can also utilize these
communication options from Backstage view.

In Word 2010

When simultaneously editing files with others in Word 2010,
the paragraph you are currently editing is automatically blocked to other
editors to avoid conflicts. You see who is editing the paragraph and can view
their presence and initiate contact from their as well.

  • You also have the option on the Review tab to
    block off selected parts of the document so that other editors can’t edit them.
  • When you save the document, if other editors
    have made changes, you see those changes clearly highlighted in green so that
    they’re easy to find. 

In PowerPoint 2010

When simultaneously editing files with others in PowerPoint
2010, you can see what slide someone else is editing from the Slides pane in
Normal view (as shown in Figure 2). Click the author indicator on the thumbnail
to see presence information and access their contact card.

  • Slides are not blocked when one person is
    working on them, so multiple editors can work on the same slide at the same
    time and changes are merged when you each save. 
  • If conflicts arise, or if you choose the Save
    and Review option in Backstage view, you can enter a conflict resolution mode
    where you can review and accept changes.

Figure 2: When coauthoring in either PowerPoint 2010 (shown
here) or Word 2010, see the number of current editors on the status bar at the
bottom of the screen and click that indicator for a pop-up list that shows you
else is editing. Click a name in that list for a contact card through which you
can initiate a conversation without leaving the program. Also notice that, in
PowerPoint, you see an indicator in the slides pane (as shown on slide 3 in
this image) of where other authors are working in the presentation—click this
indicator to see who is editing that slide and initiate contact. In Word, you
see the editor’s name in a callout beside the paragraph in which they are
editing, and can initiate contact from the contact card that appears when you
click that callout as well.

Sharing Notebooks in OneNote 2010 and OneNote Web App

If you already use Microsoft OneNote, you might know about
shared notebooks from OneNote 2007. In that version, you could simultaneously
edit notebooks stored on your computer network with others who have access to
that network.

If you’re new to shared notebooks, think of them as a
brainstorming or planning tool. They’re a great way to collect and store lots
of different kinds of information (whether you share them with others or just
with your other devices).

With Office 2010 and OneNote Web App, you can simultaneously
edit shared a notebook that is stored on a SharePoint 2010 site or in a
SkyDrive folder with people virtually anywhere to whom you give access to your
files. And, you can edit those notebooks at the same time as others who are
using OneNote 2010 or OneNote Web App — so you can even simultaneously edit a
notebook with someone who doesn’t have OneNote installed on their computer.

In both OneNote 2010 and OneNote Web App, you can do the

  • Use the ShowHide Authors feature on the View tab
    to see who made specific changes.
  • Use the Page Versions feature, which creates a
    version whenever another editor makes changes to a page in shared workbook, to
    retrieve content that you or someone else inadvertently changed or deleted.

In OneNote 2010, you can also search for changes by author.
Changes made by others since you last edited the notebook are also
automatically highlighted when you open the file.

Note: Because saving in both OneNote 2010 and
OneNote Web App is automatic, your changes and those of other editors can
update and be seen in almost real time. And if you use Microsoft Office Mobile
2010 on Windows Phone 7, you can share the same notebooks across OneNote 2010,
OneNote Web Apps, and OneNote Mobile 2010—and changes made in OneNote 2010 or
OneNote Web App sync with your notebook on Windows Phone 7 as well.

Co-authoring in Excel Web App

Last but not least, you can simultaneously edit the same
Excel 2010 workbook with other people who have access to the SharePoint 2010 or
SkyDrive location where you save the file.

Co-authoring in Excel Web App is simple. Just open the
workbook for editing in the browser. When someone else opens the same workbook
for editing, from the same location, simultaneous editing begins automatically.

  • Nothing is blocked when simultaneously editing
    in Excel. Edits are added to the file in the order they are made.
  • Because files are saved automatically when you
    work in Excel Web App, you see changes from other authors in near real time.
  • See how many editors are working in the file on
    the bottom-right corner of the Status bar. Just click that indicator to see who
    else is editing.

Want more information?

Learn about co-authoring, presence, and many other new
features in the Office 2010 product guides. Download
guides for your favorite Microsoft Office programs as well as for Office Web
Want to learn more about SkyDrive and SharePoint 2010? You’ll get
quick intros to those as well in the Office Web Apps product guide or you can
check out or