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How 'Show Changes' Feature in Excel Will Help Your Collaboration

The growth of remote work has introduced new challenges to collaborative efforts. It can become especially confusing ...

The growth of remote work has introduced new challenges to collaborative efforts. It can become especially confusing when several individuals must use the same document. For some time, teams have gravitated toward Google Sheets because of its Show Changes feature. Excel online recently introduced the same capability.

What Is the Show Changes Feature?

Managers have always been able to track who opens and uses a document. In Microsoft Word, tracking specific changes has been easy. It has always been a lot more difficult for Excel. Show Changes closes this gap in Excel online by making it possible to see who made changes to each cell.

According to Microsoft, the Show Changes feature goes beyond just tracking individual cells. Teammates can also see who made bulk changes and when. To access this and other information, right-click on the cell and choose “Show Changes” from the options menu.

Who Will Benefit Most From the Show Changes Feature?

Did you know that almost 90% of spreadsheets contain errors? Consequently, the Show Changes feature is a useful tool that can benefit any group of people sharing Excel online documents. Certain roles in particular are likely to leverage these changes.

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Businesses Of All Sizes

Spreadsheets are a common choice among teams that deal with numbers as part of their daily tasks. These include accountants and payroll specialists. Small and medium-sized businesses tend to rely on spreadsheets more often, while many large corporations have transitioned away from Microsoft Excel online for data management.

Large Teams


Businesses of all sizes can sometimes have large teams sharing spreadsheet documents. This increases the room for error, especially if the sheet glitches when people input changes. The document might also struggle to reconcile information entered in offline mode across multiple users. All of these factors make the Show Changes feature essential for Microsoft Excel online.


Universities and other supporters of scientists and researchers rely on spreadsheets to collect, reflect and store data. The simplest error in these documents can drastically change the outcomes of studies, which can change the course of science.

General Contractors

Spreadsheets are commonly used in the construction industry. General contractors and their management teams use spreadsheets to track resources, cost, time and deliverables as the project progresses. In fact, many project managers are highly skilled at using spreadsheets and complex formulas to map out projects. The Show Changes feature makes it easier to track changes that could throw off deliverables and affect quality.

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Some workers worry features like this make it too easy for employers to micromanage them. However, workers themselves can benefit from knowing who made changes to the documents they use.


Sometimes, network hacks are so subtle or companies are so unprepared that they have no idea one happened. They may only learn when the information goes up for sale on the black market or leaks occur. Noting unauthorized or incompatible changes to documents can point to such problems. For example, Show Changes might insist that a worker made changes at 2 a.m. when the worker was likely fast asleep. This is suspicious.


Despite the prevalence of team structures in the workplace, some people have never learned to be team players. Instead, they piggyback off other people’s success and easily find someone else to blame for their mistakes. The Show Changes feature points a direct finger at the responsible person, so there can be no blaming someone else for an error — or taking credit for someone else’s hard work.

Process Management

Sometimes, teammates recycle spreadsheets throughout the day. To determine whether someone has made the changes for that specific day, workers might need to email each other and wait for a response. Because timestamps are included in the Show Changes feature, workers can check if the person ahead of them in the process chain completed their tasks without having to wait for other confirmation.


Whether teams use spreadsheets or sophisticated data management apps, periodical auditing is necessary. This catches errors that might cost the business dearly in the long run. It is a lot easier to audit a spreadsheet when professionals know who made changes and when. As well, if dishonest workers know each action they take on a sheet can be traced back to them, they might also think twice about attempting to make misleading or fraudulent changes.

How Can Cloudficient Help You Leverage the Show Changes Feature?

This feature from Microsoft is only available on Excel online. Consequently, your desktop-based spreadsheets might still have a high risk of containing errors you never catch and cannot track effectively.

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