How to Track Changes in Microsoft Excel

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When multiple people are working on an Excel file, having a feature that identifies the changes and who is responsible for them becomes important. A popular feature of Microsoft Office that allows users to track changes to files is called Track Changes.

Unlike Microsoft Word, the Track Changes feature does not appear on the ribbon in Excel. However, here’s how to insert track changes on the ribbon.

The Microsoft Excel ribbon is easily customizable. To include the Track Changes feature on the ribbon, here are the steps:

  1. Start Microsoft Excel.
  2. Right click on the ribbon and from the list of options select Customize Ribbon.
  3. In the new menu, navigate to the drop-down menu under the Customize Ribbon heading. You should have three options named All Tabs, Main Tabs, and Tool Tabs.
  4. From the drop-down list, select the option to customize the main tab ribbon.
  5. Under the drop-down list, scroll through the main ribbon tabs until you find Review.
  6. Click on New Group located below the box and a new field should appear with the name New Group (Custom).
  7. Click the Rename option.
  8. Give the group a new name (eg Track Changes) and choose a symbol to represent it.
  9. Place your cursor on the drop-down menu under the Choose commands from section. You should have nine options ranging from popular commands to custom tabs and groups.
  10. From the drop-down list, select the Commands not on the ribbon option.
  11. Under the drop-down list, scroll through the commands that aren’t on the ribbon until you find Track Changes (Inheritance).
  12. Select the Add >> option.
  13. Return to the area under Choose commands from, scroll down the list of commands, and add the Accept / Reject Changes and Highlight Changes commands to the Detect Changes group.
  14. To save the addition of the new entries and the new group, click OK.

Configure Track Changes in Microsoft Excel

After customizing the ribbon, the next step is to make sure the new Track Changes feature is on the ribbon. You also need to configure the way you want it to work.

  1. On the ribbon, select the Review tab.
  2. Make sure the new Track Changes panel is on the review ribbon.
  3. Click Highlight Changes and a new dialog should open.
  4. In the dialog box, check the box next to Track changes while editing.
  5. To configure When you want to track changes, you can choose one of these options:
  • Since the last time I saved.
  • Start date (here, indicate a specific date).
  • Not seen yet.
  • All the foregoing.

6. To configure Who changes are tracked for, you can choose between the options Everyone except me or Everyone.

7. Click the OK button to save your preferences.

Note that the Highlight Changes feature must be enabled on each file before starting changes like in Microsoft Word.

View and accept / reject changes

With the Track Changes Now feature on the ribbon, you can easily identify a new one in a workbook or worksheet. New changes are often highlighted. Here is how it works:

1. In the Excel spreadsheet, hover your mouse over a cell with a small shadow in the upper left corner.

2. The action of step 1 reveals a comment box displaying the following information:

  • Who made the change.
  • When the change has been made.
  • What has changed in the cell.

Review the information to confirm if the changes are acceptable.

3. Select the Review tab on the ribbon.

4. With the Track changes group, select the Accept / Reject the changes option.

5. In the new dialog box, select the changes to accept or reject from the Who, Where, and When options.

  • When: You can choose which changes still need to be reviewed or just specify a date.
  • Who: You can decide which changes to review.

6. After making your choices, click OK to launch a new dialog box showing all of the changes made to Excel.

7. In this dialog box, you can accept or reject all changes at once or choose to do it individually.

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With the Track Changes feature, you can minimize version control issues in Excel because you can determine which changes to accept or reject. You can also use the Microsoft Excel Commenting Tool to track changes or leave notes for other contributors.

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