Can Excel track changes? How to add Track Changes to the Ribbon menu

Excel can track changes, similarly to how Word does.

Credit: Rob Schultz

Can Excel track changes? Yes, and it’s easy to do. The process is similar to Track Changes in Word, except Excel highlights the altered cells as opposed to the altered words and sentences.

Two notes before we begin: 

  • Track Changes does not work in spreadsheets that contain tables. To use Track Changes on these workbooks, select the table, click the Design tab, then click Convert to Range.
  • To solicit edits from others, be sure to post the workbook in a shared location.

First, you may have to add the Track Changes buttons to your Ribbon menu, because some versions do not show this feature on the default Ribbon.

1. Right-click anywhere on the Ribbon menu and choose Customize the Ribbon.

2. On the Customize the Ribbon dialog screen, from the Choose commands from: drop-down menu, select All Commands.

3. The adjacent Customize the Ribbon: drop-down menu should be set to Main Tabs by default, meaning it’ll show the main tabs in the scrolling list below. In the list, click the + sign next to Review, then click the New Group button underneath the list to add a new group to the Review section.

4. Right-click the New Group line to rename it and (if you wish) add an icon. In this case, we’re renaming it Track Changes. (Excel will add the term “(Custom)” after the name, only in this list.) You can also click and drag the New Group line (or whatever its new name is) to another position in the Review list.

5. Finally, with the Track Changes group selected, we’ll choose two commands from the command list on the left: Highlight Changes and Accept/Reject Changes. Click the Add button to move each command to the group. 

01 add track changes to ribbon JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Add Track Changes to Ribbon

Once the new group is added to the Ribbon:

1. Click the Highlight Changes command/button

2. Check the box that says Track changes while editing … and the box that says Highlight changes on screen

3. Click OK.

02 track changes while editing JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Track Changes While Editing

Now every change made to this spreadsheet is tracked and marked with a blue border and a tiny blue triangle (upper left corner), which appears in the edited cells. If you have multiple reviewers, they are each assigned a different color.

Move your cursor over an edited cell to see a popup summary of the tracked changes plus the author, date, and time of change. Note; however, that only the most recent/last change made displays in the summary.

03 popup summary notes show recent changes JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Popup Summary Notes Show Recent Changes

Once the spreadsheet has circulated through all of the potential editors, it’s time to accept or reject the proposed changes.

1. Click Review at the top of the Ribbon menu and click the Accept/Reject Changes button.

2. Excel asks to Save the Workbook. Click OK.

3. Excel highlights the first cell that was edited on the spreadsheet and simultaneously displays the Select Changes to Accept or Reject dialog box.

4. All current changes are listed. Select the edited version you prefer (or choose the original version) from the list and click the Accept button. If none of the listed versions work, click the Reject button, and the cursor moves to the next edited cell.

5. If the change is universal (as in this case, because all the ampersands were changed to the word “and”), click the Accept All button. All the selected edits are accepted at once.

To turn off Track Changes, return to the Review group and go to the Track Changes group. Click the Highlight Changes button and uncheck the box that says: Track changes while editing …. 

04 select changes then accept or reject those changes JD Sartain / IDG Worldwide

Select Changes, then Accept or Reject those Changes

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