Word real-time co-authoring—a closer look

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Now that Office 2016 is officially here, we are giving a special nod to one of our coolest features within the suite—real-time co-authoring. The Word team is honored to debut this new capability in Office 2016 for Windows.

We work and live in a world where collaboration can’t always happen in person and sharing ideas and information can’t always wait. In fact, a lot of real-time collaboration went into delivering this very blog post—weaving comments and content together between engineering and marketing teams located in different buildings. At times, multiple people were in the document making changes at the same time.

Real-time co-authoring in Word 2016 allows for this and, in fact, has been available since 2013, when we introduced real-time collaboration in Office Online. But with Office 2016, we take real-time collaboration to the next level by offering it within the client, delivering a ton of flexibility. In the client, users don’t need to go back and forth between experiences, collaborating outside of the client and then integrating those changes and conversations back to finalize their documents—allowing them to take advantage of the full feature set Office has to offer while they collaborate. Real-time co-authoring delivers instant engagement within the application, making it more like an in-person work session. Collaborators can align and finalize details of a document more efficiently and quickly in Office for Windows or Office Online.

Start using real-time co-authoring

To get started using real-time co-authoring, save your Word 2016 document to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online. Next, click the Share button, located in the upper right of the window.

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The Share pane is displayed, allowing you to invite your colleagues or friends to the document.

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When you click the Share button, your colleague or friend receives an invitation email with a link to the document. They have the option to edit or view in Word 2016 or Word Online (if they don’t have Word 2016 installed). If you are in the document at the same time as others, you will see a flag representing each person and where they are located.

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Set up real-time co-authoring

If this is not your first time using real-time co-authoring in Word 2016 for the desktop, you will need to first enable automatic sharing of changes. When your colleague or friend first joins the document, you’ll see a notification in the upper-right corner of the screen that lets you turn this feature on—just press Yes and your user account is enabled to share automatically. You can revert back to not sharing at any time by going to the Share pane or the General tab in options.

Watch this video to see a demonstration of real-time co-authoring in Word 2016 for the desktop:

Real-time co-authoring was born out of our need to provide users a more cohesive experience when it comes to collaboration across the desktop, online and mobile scenarios. Even though real-time co-authoring is debuting on Word 2016 for the desktop, you can expect to see this feature come to life in other Office apps like Excel and PowerPoint in the near future.

—The Word team

  1. Harsh Shah DBA

    Could I know when MS is planning to add full collaborative support for Mobile to Desktop to Office Online.
    For example,

    I am sharing a document with 3 people and each one is using different device – One is on Mobile, another is on Desktop application and the third person is using office online.. Can we all enjoy the co-authoring benefits ?

    This is very important in today’s environment as many of the team members will be traveling and need to edit document on the go .

    Please provide this feature…


    • When co-authoring between Word Online and Word 2016 for Windows Desktop, both people can see each other’s presence and typing in real-time. If a third person joins them from Word Mobile for Windows 10, that third person will be able to co-author, getting updates when they save, while the other two will continue to be “editing in real-time” – until such time as we introduce real-time typing on Word Mobile for Windows 10.

      Thanks for asking!

  2. Co-authoring has to be seen to be believed!

    Customer faith is the key issue and I use it at every opportunity to promote it.

    Once they have gained confidence with internal test exercises on low risk documents they get the message!

    Well done.

  3. Harsh Shah DBA

    When we can see the co-authoring experience on Mobile ? It would be good if you can provide us that feature so that no matter where your team is and on which device they are working on .. they get a full co-authoring experience.

    Is Microsoft planning on that ?

    • We agree that to have a great collaboration experience, you need to be able to co-author on your documents no matter what device you are using. While we can’t share specific plans, we are working on bringing this new real-time co-authoring functionality to more platforms. Note: you can already co-author using the Word Mobile App for Windows 10, Word for iOS, Word for Mac, though they do not include real-time typing… yet.

  4. when is this feature coming to Office 2016 for Mac?

    • I’ll just support this question as the normal co-authoring seems to be bugged with Office 2016 for Mac, so when will the real-time co-authoring be released to the official word branch?

      • I can’t divulge dates, but we realize that real-time co-authoring is best when everyone can participate.

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