SharePoint 2010 Document Co-Authoring with Microsoft Word

(Check out a more recent blog as well: SharePoint Document Collaboration: Co-Authoring & Office Web Apps)

In this edition of SharePoint Tidbits from the Trenches, we’ll say “so long” to the days where documents lived in a sluggish circular workflow of composition, printing and emailing, reviews, edits, editing approvals and publishing.  Recently, the Microsoft Office team has been narrowly focusing on making their products adhere to the cloud-based collaboration capabilities of the future.

In the case of document life-cycles for Word 2010, their solution incorporates an amazing new feature – the ability for multiple information workers to simultaneously edit and collaborate on a Word document.  This process is known as co-authoring and happens in real-time with the seamless integration of Microsoft Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010.

I’ll give you a second to catch your breath.  That’s right, one document with multiple simultaneous authors and real-time editing and collaboration.  No check-out/check-in required (although it’s still available) and it comes with countless time-saving and productivity boosting implications for all kinds of business operations.

Sounds great, right?  Let’s go over the prerequisites and how it works:

What do I need to try out this functionality?

  • A SharePoint Foundation 2010 or SharePoint Server 2010 site
  • A document library on that site (versioning-enabled optional)
  • Two or more users with contribute permissions on that document library
  • Two or more users with Office 2010 installed on their client machine

Ok. Now, let’s try it.

  1. Open up Microsoft Word 2010 and create a basic document with some text.
  2. Save this document and upload it to your hosted SharePoint 2010 document library.
  3. Have 2 or more users browse to this library and click on the document.
  4. Select “Edit” when this gray dialog pops up, then click OK.
    Co-authoring with Word 2010 and SharePoint 2010 - step 1
  5. Enter your SharePoint 2010 credentials (check the “remember my password” checkbox).
  6. Type away.

What am I looking at in Microsoft Word 2010?

  1. At the bottom left, you should see the users who currently have the document open in Word 2010’s edit mode.  Click on this icon to see the user-names.
    Co-authoring with Word 2010 and SharePoint 2010 - step 2
  2. Have user A type in some text and click the Save button.
  3. Now, user B will be alerted that updates are available.
    Co-authoring with Word 2010 and SharePoint 2010 - step 3
  4. When user B types in some text and clicks save, he will see both content changes with a highlighted paragraph of what was just imported.   After he saves the document again, the highlighting goes away.
    Co-authoring with Word 2010 and SharePoint 2010 - step 4
  5. You can also click on an author’s name at the bottom left and begin a collaboration effort from within Word 2010! Pretty neat, eh?
    Co-authoring with Word 2010 and SharePoint 2010 - step 5
  6. A popup appears when other users close Word (as seen above).
  7. If you have versioning enabled in the SharePoint 2010 document library, you’ll notice a new version is stored after every save:
    Co-authoring with Word 2010 and SharePoint 2010 - step 6

What other collaboration goodies are coming?

Office Communications Server 2010 will be released sometime this summer. When this is integrated with your hosted SharePoint 2010 environment, you’ll have the ability to see the online “presence” of the other authors, as well as being able to start a conversation (Email/IM/Video) right inside Word 2010.  Simply click on a name and choose the communications medium to allow users to virtually work together to get documents out the door faster.

2010-06-14T09:15:20+00:00 June 14th, 2010|


  1. ninel February 2, 2012 at 4:23 am - Reply

    My company uses SharePoint 2010, but only has Office 2007. Can I do somethign like this in Word 2007? Or am I just stuck using the versioning functionality of SP where only one user can edit at the same time?

  2. Andy Milsark February 6, 2012 at 4:50 am - Reply

    @ninel Unfortunately I think it requires Office 2010.

  3. Royal June 26, 2012 at 1:04 am - Reply

    Can we do the editing only in Word 2010? Or we can Edit in 2010 browser as well?

  4. Andy Milsark July 9, 2012 at 6:50 am - Reply

    @Royal You can edit word documents in the browser if Office Web Applications is installed on the SharePoint web server. This is a separate product from SharePoint, but if you have Office Pro Plus licensing, it should be included at no extra charge.

  5. jp July 23, 2012 at 4:51 am - Reply

    Popup Window does not appear to open document “read only or edit”, just ask me to open and save. If I open, I open it as a copy, i cant edit.

  6. Andy Milsark July 26, 2012 at 8:24 am - Reply

    @jp Are you using Internet Explorer?

  7. Manyi August 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    The co-authoring feature works perfectly between my XP&Win7 workstation. But if I remove my XP machine and use two WIN7 to co-edit the document, the function will then be abnormal. e.g. Name of author and no.of author will not be shown. Once the XP machine join the co-authoring, the two WIN7 can correctly see the action and name of XP.

  8. Hossein October 19, 2012 at 1:18 am - Reply

    Thanks a lot for your Article. I have done your steps for MS-word2010 and MS-PP2010 ,even i didn’t enter SharePoint 2010 credential (that i must check the ” remember my password” check-box)it works amazing. My Question is that is it possible for excel Co-Authoring ? and How? Also I use IE

    It is really urgent for me .
    Thank you for any upcoming Help.

  9. Gilbert Ho January 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Please help me to solve the problem on simultaneous editing (co-authoring):
    In the sharepoint window, a test document was created to test the simultaneous editing function.

    When more than one person are working on the same word file, and in the Word file window, the multiple users icon is not shown in the bottom left of window (the function of simultaneous editing is also not able to perform). Could someone suggest the solution, thanks alot in advance.

  10. Rick February 4, 2013 at 10:24 am - Reply

    To get this feature to work on my Windows 8 & IE 10 working with Office 365 environment I had to add the SharePoint site to my Trusted Sites.

  11. 10 Reasons Users Should Care About Upgrade to SharePoint 2010 | JoelJoel September 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    […] cell locking and multi user editing in Excel and One Note. I recommend checking out Andy’s walk through on co-authoring in Word. Chart webpart. Publishing from Visio into Visio Services. There’s a whole suite of client […]

  12. The Collaboration Show 10 Reasons Users Should Care About Upgrade to SharePoint 2010 - The Collaboration Show September 30, 2013 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    […] cell locking and multi user editing in Excel and One Note. I recommend checking out Andy’s walk through on co-authoring in Word. Chart webpart. Publishing from Visio into Visio Services. There’s a whole suite of client […]

  13. Mary Snere February 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    Our command has decided to use SharePoint Workspace. We use the Groove Workspace and my question is there a limit to how many people can edit an documents?

  14. SharePoint Collaboration: Co-Authoring & Office Web Apps May 21, 2014 at 10:34 am - Reply

    […] Milsark has already provided a quick look at co-authoring Word documents in a previous post. Please take the time to review his blog as well. As was mentioned in his post, […]

  15. Brian Reeves June 2, 2015 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I am trying to use the co-authoring option in Office 2010 w/ SharePoint, but it is not working over our network. It keeps giving up ‘File in Use’ windows, asking to work offline and merge changes after current user is done editing. The file is NOT CHECKED OUT, and Require Check Out is not turned on in versioning. The site is in Trusted Sites, and major versioning is turned on (in case that was an issue). We are on Win7, and IE8. Office 2010 Pro Plus.

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