Show Changes and History of Edits in Excel

Bottom Line: Learn how to use the new Show Changes feature to see a history of all changes to a workbook from multiple users.

Skill Level: Beginner

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See Everyone's Changes!

There's an awesome new feature in Excel called Show Changes. It's especially helpful if you have multiple people co-authoring (collaborating on) the same file. Excel tracks all of the changes that you and your co-authors are making to a shared workbook. Now you can essentially access a transcript to those changes and see who did what and when.

Show Changes Task Pane will reveal a list of all changes made to the workbook.

Click to enlarge

Currently, you can only view this record of changes using Excel Online. While changes made on the desktop application are still tracked, to view those changes you need to be using the web version.

Viewing Changes

See the changes that have been made to a workbook by going to the Review tab. Then click the Show Changes button.

Show Changes Button on the Review Tab

This will open up a task pane on the right side of the worksheet that has a running list. The list contains all of the changes that have been made in the workbook. Included with each entry is the name of the person who made the change, a timestamp of when the change was made, and a description of what the change was.

Show changes task pane
Click to enlarge

In instances where values were updated, the entry shows what the old value was in addition to the new value. Knowing what the previous value was can be useful in case you need to change it back.

Show changes task pane highlighting change to values

Click on any of the changes in the list and it will automatically navigate to the cell where the change was made.

Compatibility & Version Requirements

The files that you want to track changes on must be stored on OneDrive or SharePoint, and you must have a Microsoft 365 subscription to use this feature.

The Show Changes pane is currently available on Excel for the web, which you will access in your web browser. As mentioned above, you can make changes to the file on the desktop version of Excel, then view the changes in the web version.

Here is a help page from Microsoft that explains when changes will be tracked and some scenarios where the history might be cleared.

Filter the Change List

As you can imagine, the list of changes can get pretty long over time, so one of the cool features to know about is the ability to filter. You can filter by sheet or even by range. To filter, just click on the button with the funnel icon. Then you will be prompted to select the range or sheet that you want to filter. Once you enter that in, you will see only the changes that have been made to the specified range or sheet.

Filter feature for show changes list

You can clear your filters using the same drop-down menu.

Viewing Older & Other Changes

As Chery mentioned in the comments below, you might not see older changes in the Show Changes list. I'm not sure of the exact time length or number of changes that are kept in the history. This Microsoft Help Page explains how you can see older changes in the Version History of the file.

At the time of this writing, only changes to cell values and formulas are tracked in Show Changes. Changes to shapes, charts, pivot tables, formatting, hiding, and filters are not tracked yet. Hopefully, those changes will be included in the future.

Conclusion

Again, this is a really useful new feature for Excel, and I'm excited to show it to you. If you haven't used Excel Online in a while, I encourage you to go play around with it. The Microsoft development team has done a great job of updating the web version to be more in line with the desktop version of Excel.

Can you see yourself using this Show Changes feature? I'd love to hear your feedback or questions. You can write them in the comments section below.

  • Hey Jon,
    This is another great example of how Microsoft is superior to Google Docs. Having the ability to see changes by another author is a powerful tool when 3 or more people are working on the same file. I haven’t used the filter option yet and will try it with our next group file. All of the work in my office is done with SharePoint, and I’ll have to review this version option through this platform. One beneficial formula we use to communicate notes to each other is using the
    =N(“add a message here”). By burying comments within the notes, we don’t have the comment marker on the page – I find it annoying when providing senior executive-level reports.
    I like to leave messages to others I work with when there is a particular nuance in the formula or any other special issue related to that cell. It’s fun to find a note from a colleague in a formula.
    I really enjoy your posts; they provide direct and effective training. Much appreciated.
    -Krist

    • Hi Krist,
      That is an interesting use for the N function and I don’t believe I’ve seen that before. Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

      I really appreciate your support and the nice feedback. Thanks again and have a nice day!

  • With so many different versions of Excel being used, could you please specify precisley which versions these tutorials apply to.
    It’s very annoying to see a tutorial on a very useful topic,only to find that it is not available in the version being used.

    • Hi Donald,
      I’m sorry if I didn’t make it clear. This feature should be available to all Microsoft 365 subscribers and the files will need to be stored on SharePoint or OneDrive. Currently you can only access the Show Changes feature on the online (web app) version of Excel in your web browser.

      I hope that helps. Thanks again and have a nice day!

  • When does it start to track changes. I opened one up today and it only showed those changes made today and no other dates. There was no filter applied.

  • Hi Jon,

    First, thank you for your posts! They are so informative and almost always applicable to my work in excel.

    Second, I have been using the show changes feature ever since I was notified of it’s existence from an excel tip that popped up in the worksheet that I was working on. It has been invaluable to me!

    Third, I noticed that it only keeps recent changes and that if you need to see changes previous to those that are displayed, you need to go to version history and look at past versions to be able to view older changes. I have not tried this yet but it was explained when I did a search to see how to view older changes.

    This is such a great tool and I appreciate you covering it. I have not used the filter feature yet but plan to try it out. Glad you included it in the post.

    Thank you again for your posts! They are so relevant and helpful to me.

    Chery

    • Hi Chery,

      I’m happy to hear you are enjoying Show Changes. Thank you for the nice feedback. And also thank you for the tip on viewing older changes. I’ll update the post with a link to that article.

      Thanks again and have a great day! 🙂

  • Interesting feature, Jon – even for an old and lonely wolf like me. In developing Excel based applications the changes are valuable tool to keep track of the work. Thank you!

    Btw: How do you get the changes to show in a Project plan?

    • Thanks Gunnar!

      If you are referring to the Microsoft Project application, I’m not sure that it has this track changes feature yet. I don’t use Project much but sounds like it would be a useful feature there as well.

  • Hi Jon.

    Very basic but much-needed addition to excel. Thank you for the tutorial.

    Is there a way for that “Changes Pane” to be pinned by default so that every participant can see changes they’re making in real-time without having to summon the pane manually?

    Concretely, we work on a sheet where we need to keep certain forecasts updated, however, we’ve run into trouble in the past when some of those users would not admit to making changes in a sheet, which would wreak havoc among the team.

    Your input will be much appreciatted.

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