How to track changes in Microsoft Excel

When multiple people work on an Excel file, having a feature that identifies changes and who is responsible becomes important. A popular feature of Microsoft Office that allows people 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.

How to enable change tracking in Microsoft Excel

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

  1. Start Microsoft Excel.
  2. Right-click the ribbon and from the list of options select Customize Ribbon.
  3. In the new menu, navigate to the drop-down menu located under the heading Customize the Ribbon. 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. Below the drop-down list, scroll through the main ribbon tabs until you find Review.
  6. Click New Group located below the box and a new field should appear with the name New (Custom) Group.
  7. Click the Rename option.
  8. Provide a new name for the group (eg Track changes) and choose a symbol to represent it.
  9. Place your cursor on the drop-down menu located under the heading Choose commands from. You should have nine options ranging from popular commands to custom tabs and groups.
  10. From the drop-down list, select the Commands not in the ribbon option.
  11. Below the drop-down list, scroll through the commands not on the ribbon until you find Track Changes (Legacy).
  12. Select the Add >> option.
  13. Return to the box under Choose commands from, scroll through 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 group, click OK.

Configuring the Track Changes function in Microsoft Excel

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

  1. On the ribbon, select the Review tab.
  2. Verify that the new Track Changes group is on the review ribbon.
  3. Click Highlight Changes and a new dialog should be launched.
  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.
  • From date (here, provide a specific date).
  • Not yet reviewed.
  • All of the above.

6. To configure Who changes are tracked for, you can choose between the options Everyone but 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 the changes as 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's how it works:

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

2. The action in step 1 reveals a comment box showing the following information:

  • Who made the change.
  • When the change was 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 changes option.

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

  • When: You can choose what changes are yet to be reviewed or simply 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 changes 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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Using the comments tool in Microsoft Excel

With the change tracking feature, you can minimize version control issues in Excel as you can determine which changes to accept or reject. You can also use the Microsoft Excel Comment Tool to track changes or leave notes for other contributors.

Further Reading:

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  • What is Microsoft 365?
  • What is a CSV file and how to open a .csv file?
  • How to install Microsoft Office on Chromebook
  • What is Microsoft Power Automate Desktop and why you need it
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