To work together in Word Online, you edit a document as you normally would, and if others are also editing it, Word Online alerts you to their presence, and shows you the paragraph they’re working on. There’s no special co-authoring mode and no command to begin co-authoring.
As authors come and go, Word Online notifies you briefly.
You can always see who is currently working in the document by clicking the status bar at the bottom of the window.
Word Online displays a dotted blue bracket to show you the paragraph you’re working on.
Other authors will see that you are working on this paragraph.
When you save the document Word Online notifies the others that the document has been updated.
When they save the document they will see your changes, and they will make their changes available to you. By refreshing the document every time you save it, you control when you see the updates. This allows you to work with minimal interruption, even though others are working in the document with you.
After you save the document, content that other authors changed is displayed with a colored background.
Note If you switch to Reading view, and then back to Editing view, the colored background is removed.
If for some reason your changes conflict with those of another author, Word Online lets you choose which version to keep.
Opening the document in your desktop application
If you want to make changes that require features of the Word desktop application, click Open in Word and continue editing. For example, you might want to add a table of contents or a bibliography whose entries update automatically.
Note Co-authoring in the Word desktop application requires Word 2010, Word 2013, or Microsoft Word for Mac 2011.
In the Word desktop application, be careful not to introduce content or functionality to the document that will prevent other authors’ ability to edit the document in Word Online. For example, don’t use permissions features such as editing restrictions or marking the document as final. If you want to restrict access to the document, use the permission features where the document is stored (OneDrive, Office 365, or SharePoint).
If someone does save the document with features that aren’t supported by Word Online, you can still co-author, just not in Word Online anymore. If everyone in the group has Word 2010, Word 2013, or Word for Mac 2011, continue working together in Word (click Open in Word and continue editing).
If someone in the group doesn’t have one of those versions of Word, you need to remove the unsupported features from the document so that everyone can continue to work together in Word Online. Do the following:
- In Word Online click Open in Word (requires Word 2003, or later, or Word for Mac 2008 12.2.9 or later).
- In the Word desktop application, remove the unsupported features. For details on what’s supported see Differences between using a document in the browser and in Word.
- Save the document (press Ctrl+S in Windows, or ⌘+S on the Mac).
- If you used Word 2003, Word 2007, or Word for Mac 2008 12.2.9, close Word so that others can continue co-authoring the document in Word Online.
If another author saves the document with unsupported features before you have saved the document in Word Online, you might not be able to save your work in Word Online. If you have Word 2010, Word 2013, or Word for Mac 2011 you can prevent losing your changes by opening the document in the Word desktop application. Click Open in Word, copy your changes from Word Online, and then paste them in the document in Word. When you save the document in Word, your changes are saved on the server.
If co-authoring in Word Online isn’t working
If co-authoring isn’t working in Word Online, it might be because someone has the document open a version of Word that doesn’t support co-authoring, because the document contains features that are not supported for editing in Word Online, or some other problem. For help, see Troubleshoot co-authoring Word documents.
Note In SharePoint 2010 Word Online does not support co-authoring, but you can work together in Word 2010, Word 2013, and Microsoft Word for Mac 2011.