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How to Share an Excel File?

Learn how to control the access to your Excel files in a more efficient way. Make sure your collaborators only see what they should and that you are always kept in control over what happens with your data.

excel sharing features

Why Sharing an Excel Workbook?

These days more and more people are using Microsoft Excel for teamwork. In the past, when you needed to share an Excel workbook with someone, you could send it as an email attachment or save your Excel data to PDF for printing.

While fast and convenient, the former method created multiple versions of the same document, and the latter produced a secure though non-editable copy.

The recent versions of Excel 2010, 2013 and 2016 make it easy to share and collaborate on workbooks via the Co-Authoring feature.

By sharing an Excel file, you are giving other users access to the same document and allow them to make edits simultaneously, which saves you the trouble of keeping track of multiple versions.

What is Excel Co-Authoring, and What can it do for you?

Here is what Excel co-authoring can do for you:

✅ Open a file simultaneously in editing mode.

✅ See each other's changes in a matter of seconds (in different colors depending on your Excel version).

✅ Excel will save all changes made nonetheless, but they are harder to track.

✅ Comments and notifications (with @mentions) are advisable.

Co-authoring in Excel is a feature mainly for real-time or live collaboration.

The ideal scenario for Excel co-authoring is a Microsoft Teams Meeting. Everyone can open an Excel workbook simultaneously and show or edit content.

You'll see changes made in different colors.

Another scenario is sharing a link to your Excel file and asking everyone on your list to input or review values. If opened via the link, changes are highlighted in the same way, which is a big comfort win.

It is most annoying when you try to work in a spreadsheet and find it locked for editing because someone else is working on it (or forgot to close it and went out for lunch). So co-authoring is worth the while if only for this.

What Excel Co-Authoring Cannot do for you?

If you loved shared workbooks, co-authoring an Excel workbook would seem a step backward.

Unfortunately, there is no mix and match, and co-authoring has great aspects. Excel co-authoring allows for multiple editing.

That's its main purpose, and it fills that role nicely. However, the data management aspect is missing, and that's what many businesses need.

That's clear when you watch a YouTube Excel tutorial or look at screenshots in Microsoft support pages. There, Excel spreadsheets usually contain only a minimum of data.

However, a typical business spreadsheet doesn't look like that. It is either a table or an Excel dashboard with several worksheets and many rows and columns. Even with live change tracking on, there is a high chance you would miss Emma's change on worksheet2_e202 and what she did.

Here’s where you should expect a backwards step from the regular Excel experience:

❌ Don't expect change tracking as there’s none available apart from version rollbacks.

❌ Don't rely on Excel co-authoring in your business process - you frequently get locked out and the effort on re-establishing status quo isn’t worth it.

❌ Don't use comments as chats. They don’t work that way and you can overlook them.

❌ Don't use your Excel workbook outside a core team. Classroom size is the recommended one by Microsoft. You can’t be specific on user access rights either.

❌ Never stop checking your figures. When others input data, references could break your back into off-spreadsheet communication.

Add Extra Co-Authoring Power to your Excel Workbook

Excel Co-Authoring arrived with the purpose of fight back email back-and-forth and file version chaos.

It works well solving that, but it unlocks new challenges that were solved by legacy Excel releases. Ideally, Excel would allow you to invite different people to edit your file, but would keep you in control over what each collaborator can see or edit, and up to what level their changes impact your workbook.

You could then accept or reject any proposed changes and prevent errors from creeping in.

This is what we’ve built Layer to do.

To take your Excel files and extend its collaboration capabilities. You can simply upload it and select which ranges each collaborator should have access to.

Sharing is done automatically and consolidation too, putting file owners in charge of reviewing any proposed changes before approving or rejecting them.

There’s no need to migrate or convert your data to a new platform or format.

It just works.

Keep Excel.
 Keep Google Sheets.

Add Layer to reduce errors, easily communicate, collaborate,
and seamlessly share data or request input within seconds.

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Layer - The connective tissue for spreadsheets | Product Hunt

Finally you're in Control of Your Data!

Layer is a web app That Works on top of Your Existing Excel Files and Google Sheets.

Share parts of your spreadsheet, collect and consolidate data, and review changes to make collaboration seamless and more efficient while keeping full control over your data.

Save Hours of Dull Work

Managing and maintaining spreadsheets is very time-consuming and often consists of nothing but dull data operations.

Focus on what matters while Layer takes care of distributing and consolidating your data in Excel and Google Sheets. No more copy-pasting.

Keep Your Files Error Free

Spreadsheets are fragile. Errors slip in easily and are hard to detect. On top of that, they can be very costly.

Layer gives you full control and transparency over every single input and change so you can spot errors early on.

Involve Your Colleagues

Most companies store some of their most essential data in spreadsheets. Unfortunately, most of those are unconnected data silos.

With Layer, you can share the data with the relevant people in no time. Collaborate with your team and take alignment to a new level.

Get Started in Minutes

Layer works on top of your existing Excel files and Google Sheets—No new licenses, learning curve, or heavy implementation.

It's extremely easy to get started with an intuitive interface. Simply upload or connect your files and start sharing!

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Manage Access

Work across filetypes and manage the access to your spreadsheets down to the cell level.

Manage Access Down To Cell Level

Grant Access Down to the Cell Level

Work Across Excel, GSheets or Layer Sheets

Add or Remove Co-Owners and Collaborators

Lock and Unlock Cells

Option to Require Sign In

Track and Review

Define, assign & monitor tasks. Keep discussions, actionable feedback, or context all in one place.

Manage Access Down To Cell Level

Highlighting and Color Coding

Revist and Revert Previous File Versions

Review, Accept or Reject Changes

Collaborate and Communicate

Spot changes quickly. Accept or reject them, keep previous file versions and restore them if needed.

Manage Access Down To Cell Level

Smart Chat

Contextual Activity History

Set Deadlines

Define and Assign Tasks

Track Task Progress

Success Stories

Leading companies worldwide use Layer to help them save time
on collaborative processes using spreadsheets.

Elliot Comite Ironclad

Elliot Comite

Finance Lead

Using Layer as a core platform for sharing data and collaboration helped make our reporting workflows 10x faster. We get some of the same processes done in a tenth of the time.

Charlotte Kelly Butternut

Charlotte Kelly

FP&A Manager

Personally, Layer reduced my stress levels quite a lot. Overall, it improved the data collation aspect and significantly reduced the manual errors as a result of copying and pasting data between different spreadsheets.

Step 1

Upload your Excel file or connect your
Google Sheet

Step 2

Share any part of your file
and assign tasks

Step 3

Collaborate, review
and consolidate data

There is no Step 4

Keep Excel and Start Sharing Like Never Before!

Everything your team needs to streamline your communication flows and collaborate more efficiently on Excel and Google Sheets.