How to share an Excel file (with definition and steps)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Excel is essential for many businesses, from organising general data to generating reports and graphs necessary for planning and operations. Understanding how to use Excel as a part of a team is a vital part of many roles. If you're considering a career in administration or an office job, improving your skills in Excel can be an invaluable way to stand out. In this article, we discuss how to share an Excel file, how to send files and why knowing how to share Excel workbooks is invaluable.

What is an Excel file?

An Excel file is a workbook that includes numerous Excel worksheets. These sheets contain data, formulas and other information for business and personal purposes. For example, a company may use Excel files to record tracking information, plan budgets or create staff rotas.

How to share an Excel file

Knowing how to share an excel file is a useful hard skill and a practical way to allow multiple people to access and use the same live document from different locations. For example, you may update spreadsheets as a part of a team to track activities and progress on projects. Here are the steps you can take to share Excel files:

1. Open your Excel workbook

To access the menus necessary to share Excel files, open your Excel workbook. If you haven't yet, you can start by saving your workbook to a suitable location. For access to live Excel workbooks, the ideal place to save your Excel document is on the cloud via OneDrive.

Related: How to create an Excel graph in 5 simple steps (with tips)

2. Access the file menu

The file menu is the first tab on your menu bar at the top of your Excel document. Clicking on File brings up a separate menu with options for creating new documents, accessing templates and opening existing workbooks. You can find Share on the left-hand side of the menu, above Export and below Print.

3. Select Share

On selecting Share, you can upload your workbook or, if you've already uploaded it, you're directed to a pop-up to send a link. This pop-up includes the filename you want to share plus fields to enter who you'd like to share with. You can also include a message for context when sending access through email.

4. Choose permissions for sharing

Before you send an Excel file, you can change the permissions for your Excel workbook. You can allow anyone with a link to access your document or restrict access to specific people you've provided permission to. You may also give or remove editing permissions, preventing other users from editing your workbook as required.

5. Set an expiration date and password

Depending on your requirements, you may also choose to define a set amount of time for access to your documents. For example, if they temporarily assign your responsibilities to another employee while you're away, you may set permissions to last for that time. You can also add a password to access your Excel workbook for additional security.

6. Send the link to share via email or by copying

Once you're happy with your settings, you can enter the name, group or email of the people you'd like to receive access to your Excel file. You can email them directly or copy a link that provides access. Sending a link allows anyone with permission to access your Excel file online whenever they want.

Related: Top 10 secure file sharing platforms (With pros and cons)

How to share a file in Excel Online

If you use Excel Online instead of separate software, you can also share your workbooks with other people. Many businesses use Excel Online if they don't use Microsoft software regularly or work on systems that run through cloud servers. Here are steps to share an Excel file in Excel Online:

1. Select the share button

The Share button is on the right-hand side of your Excel Online page. Typically, the share button is above the general menu you use in Excel. If you're not already signed in, you're prompted to sign in to your Microsoft account at this point to continue the sharing process.

2. Invite people or get a link

Once you've signed in, you can save your workbook to the cloud and make it accessible to other users. Like in standard Excel, you can invite people through email or create a link to provide to your colleagues or team. You can also select send a copy if you'd prefer to offer a unique spreadsheet copy.

3. Set permissions for editing

Before you invite people to your workbook, you can choose what permissions to provide. For example, you may only want certain people to edit your workbook while also allowing other people to view the information. Depending on your requirements, you may also choose to set a password.

4. Send email or share via link

With permissions in place, you can send emails to invite people or copy a link to provide to collaborators. Once you've offered shared access, you can remove the access by selecting a specific user. You can also change their permissions and decide whether to share changes.

Related: Advanced Excel Skills Guide

How to send an Excel file

Sharing Excel workbooks provides access to live, online documents while sending an Excel file offers a static document you can't change remotely. If you want to send an Excel rather than share it, you can do so directly without using the sharing functionality. Here are the steps you can take to send an Excel file:

1. Save your Excel spreadsheet

Before you can send your Excel workbook, start by saving it. If you're creating a one-off file that you won't continually update, you can save it directly to your Documents folder. If you want to send a static file to one person but share it with others, saving it to OneDrive is the ideal option.

2. Add to an email as an attachment

You can attach Excel files to emails easily. In most email software, all you're required to do is select the attachment option and attach the file from its folder location. If you want to send specific spreadsheet information in an email body, you can also choose to paste tables or data into the email directly.

3. Send your spreadsheet to the recipient

Once attached or pasted, you can send your email to your recipient. This form of Excel sharing doesn't provide access to your working document. This makes this option valuable if that person doesn't require continual access to a document as it updates.

Related: How to create an org chart in Excel (benefits and features)

Why share an Excel file?

Sharing Excel files and accessing the same document alongside other staff members is common in many jobs. For example, as a manager, you may manage a rota on Excel that supervisors or other managers can also change and access. Some reasons you may share an Excel file include:

Reviews by a manager or supervisor

Managers or supervisors may not require access to adjust documents and files but providing read-only access can allow them to view your work without disrupting it. For example, a manager may view a spreadsheet each week to track progress. Sharing documents reduces the time taken to send a new file each week, reducing clutter and confusion over file versions.

Communal access to a document

Multiple people may require access to a document at once, making communal access important. For example, a team of developers may track the progress of individual tasks through Excel to keep everyone updated. Multiple people having access to edit the file can help keep everything in one neat location.

Easy access to data and information

Shared Excel spreadsheets can provide easy access to information when necessary. For example, a coworker could access your Excel workbook to gain information about the current completion of a project. Read-only spreadsheet access is common for companies providing public information.

Providing feedback, notes and guidance

Excel spreadsheets have options for review included, allowing users to place notes and comments on different cells and areas. Sharing files provides a way to offer real-time feedback and flag any problems and issues immediately. For example, if one person notices information is inaccurate, they can flag it for the owner to check as soon as they see the note.

Job coverage when away or on holiday

Sharing a spreadsheet can be valuable when other coworkers take over your responsibilities temporarily. For example, if you're absent from a project, you could share edit access to the Excel spreadsheets. This solution prevents multiple versions of Excel documents from being in use and ensures that access is available to people managing that work.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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