How to Use Track Changes in Excel

A great feature for spreadsheet collaboration

Before you ask your team members to review your Excel worksheets, turn on Excel revision tracking for your shared workbook. When you use the legacy track changes feature in Excel, you'll see who made changes to the worksheet or workbook, and the changes they made. After your team finishes the review, compare your original data with the reviewers' changed data. Then, accept or reject their changes, and turn off Track Changes to finalize the document.

Instructions in this article apply to Excel for Microsoft 365, Excel 2019, and Excel 2016.

Can You Track Changes in Excel?

When you want your team to review and edit your Excel workbook, you have two options. If everyone on your team uses Excel for Microsoft 365, the co-authoring feature is a straightforward and quick way to review a document. If you want more information about the revisions made or if your team members work with older versions of Excel, use the legacy Track Changes feature.

You won't find the option to track changes in Excel for Microsoft 365 and Excel 2019 on the Excel Ribbon. You'll only see the track changes commands in the Review tab of Excel 2016 and older versions. The option is available in newer versions of Excel, but you'll need to add the associated track changes commands to a new group in the Review tab.

Microsoft recommends that you use the co-authoring feature of Excel, which replaces Shared Workbooks. With co-authoring, you'll see the changes others make in real time, and each person's changes may be in a different color. However, co-authoring doesn't track the changes, and you can't reject changes to revert to your original data. Co-authoring is only available with a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Enable Track Changes in Newer Versions of Excel

To enable the legacy Track Changes feature in Windows:

  1. Go to the File tab and select Options.

    Options in Microsoft Excel.
  2. In the Excel Options dialog box, select Customize Ribbon.

    The customize ribbon option in the Excel Options dialog box.
  3. Select the Choose command from drop-down arrow and choose All commands.

    Choose commands from all commands
  4. Select the Customize the Ribbon drop-down arrow and choose Main Tabs.

    Customize the Ribbon for the main tabs
  5. Expand and highlight the Review category.

    Expand the Review tab
  6. Select New Group.

    Create a new group in the Review tab
  7. Make sure the New Group entry is highlighted, then select Rename.

    Rename the new group in Excel
  8. In the Rename dialog box, enter a display name for the group. For example, enter Track Changes.

    Enter a name for the new group
  9. Select OK to apply the change and close the Rename dialog box.

  10. In the Excel Options dialog box, go to the All Commands list, then choose each of the following:

    • Compare and Merge Workbooks (Legacy)
    • Protect Sharing (Legacy)
    • Share Workbook (Legacy)
    • Track Changes (Legacy)

    After you select each command, select Add to add that command to the Review tab.

    Add the legacy Track Changes commands to the Review tab
  11. Select OK to apply your changes and close the Excel Options dialog box.

  12. The four track changes commands appear on the Review tab in the new group that you created.

    The legacy Track Changes commands on the Review tab

How to Turn on Track Changes in Excel

After you've entered all the information in the worksheet, turn on the Track Changes feature before making the Excel workbook available for review.

  1. Go to the Review tab and select Track Changes > Highlight Changes.

    Select Highlight Changes to turn on the Track Changes feature
  2. In the Highlight Changes dialog box, select the Track changes while editing check box.

  3. Select the When check box and set it to All.

  4. Select the Who check box and set it to Everyone.

  5. Select the Highlight changes on screen check box.

    Highlight the changes to be tracked in an Excel worksheet
  6. Select OK.

  7. On the Review tab, select Share Workbook.

    Share an Excel workbook
  8. In the Share Workbook dialog box, go to the Editing tab and select the Use the old shared workbooks feature instead of the new co-authoring experience check box.

    Enable the legacy Track Changes feature
  9. Select OK.

  10. On the Review tab, select Protect Shared Workbook.

    Protect a shared workbook
  11. In the Protect Shared Workbook dialog box, select the Sharing with track changes check box.

    Enable sharing with track changes
  12. Select OK.

Share the Workbook

When your shared workbook is ready to be reviewed, upload the file to a location that your team members can access. For example, upload the workbook to a SharePoint site, a OneDrive folder, or Dropbox.

The Track Changes feature doesn't work with workbooks that contain tables. Tables must be converted to a range.

After the workbook is uploaded, inform your team members that the file is ready for their review. One way to do this is to use the Share feature in Excel.

If you don't have a space set up that is accessible to all the reviewers, email the workbook file to each reviewer.

How to View and Accept Changes

After all your reviewers have had a chance to review and edit the workbook, it's time to accept or reject those changes.

  1. Go to the Review tab and select Track Changes > Accept or Reject Changes.

    Accept or reject changes to a shared workbook
  2. In the Select Changes to Accept or Reject dialog box, clear the Where checkbox to accept or reject changes to the entire workbook.

    Choose a timeframe for changes
  3. Select OK.

  4. For each change, select either Accept or Reject.

    Accept or reject changes

How to Turn Off Track Changes

When you're finished with the review and don't want to continue to track changes made to the workbook, turn off the Track Changes feature.

  1. Go to the Review tab and select Track Changes > Highlight Changes.

    Turn off track changes
  2. In the Highlight Changes dialog box, clear all the check boxes.

    Turn off track changes
  3. Select OK.