MS-Excel / Excel 2003

Conflict resolution worksheet style

While file sharing is turned on in a workbook, Excelautomatically updates the changes made to the shared workbook whenever anybody who's editing the same file saves his or her changes. If the program identifies cells in the workbook that contain conflicting changes (that is, different values placed in the same cell by different users) when you go to save a copy of the shared workbook, Excel flags the cell in the workbook with a marquee and then displays the conflict in the Resolve Conflicts dialog box. To accept your change to the cell in question, click the Accept Mine button. To accept the change made by another user, click the Accept Other button instead.

After you accept your change or the other user's change in the case of the first conflict, Excel moves on to flag the next case and displays a description of the conflicting values in the Resolve Conflicts dialog box. When you finish accepting or rejecting your change or the one made by another user for the last conflicting value, Excel automatically closes the Resolve Conflicts dialog box and saves your changes to the workbook.

If you want Excel to accept only your changes in all cases of conflicting values, click the Accept All Mine button. To have Excel reject all your changes and accept all those made by others, click the Accept All Others button instead.

Accepting or rejecting highlighted changes

When you share a workbook file by turning on change tracking for a workbook, you can decide which changes to accept or reject by choosing Tools → Track Changes → Accept or Reject Changes. When you first choose this command, Excel displays an alert dialog box informing you that the program will save the workbook. When you click OK to close this alert dialog box, the program looks for conflicts and, if it finds any, opens the Resolve Conflicts dialog box where you decide whose changes to use.

After resolving all the conflicts in the workbook, Excel then opens the Select Changes to Accept or Reject dialog box. This dialog box contains the same three check boxes and associated drop-down items (When, Who, and Where) as the Highlight Changes dialog box.

By default, the When check box is selected along with the Not Yet Reviewed setting. When this setting is selected, Excel displays all the changes in the workbook that you haven't yet reviewed for everyone who has modified the shared file. Here are the settings that you can change:

  • To review only those changes you made on the current date, select Since Date on the When drop-down list.
  • To review changes made since a particular date, edit the current date in the Since Date dropdown list.
  • To review changes that everyone has made except you, only those changes you've made, or only those changes a particular coworker has made, click the appropriate item (Everyone But Me, your name, or another user's name) on the Who drop-down list.
  • If you want to restrict the review to a particular range or region of a worksheet, select the Where check box and then select the range or nonadjacent cell ranges with the cells to review.

After you select which changes to review, click OK. Excel then closes this dialog box, highlights the cell in the worksheet that contains the first change to review, and opens the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box, where you indicate whether or not to accept or reject the change.

Here's how to accept or reject changes in this dialog box:

  • To accept a change when there are multiple modifications, select the one you want to use and then click the Accept button.
  • To reject all the changes and keep the original value, select the original value and then click the Accept button.
  • If only one change has been made to a cell, you can keep its original value by clicking the Reject button.

After you accept or reject the modification made to the first highlighted cell, Excel flags the next cell in worksheet that needs reviewing and, at the same time, displays a description of the change in the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box.

If you know ahead of time that you want to accept or reject all the changes that have been made since you last reviewed the workbook, click the Accept All button or the Reject All button, respectively.

After you accept or reject the last change that Excel identifies in the shared workbook, the Accept or Reject Changes dialog box automatically closes, and you can then save the workbook (Ctrl+S) with the editing changes that you made as a result of this review.

Turning off file sharing

When you no longer need to share a particular workbook, you can turn off file sharing. To do this, open the Share Workbook dialog box (Tools → Share Workbook), clear the Allow Changes by More Than One User at the Same Time check box on the Editing tab, and click OK.

After you stop sharing a workbook, all other users who have it open are automatically prevented from saving the workbook in the same folder under the same name. To save their changes to the erstwhile shared workbook, they must now save the workbook with a new filename. You can then merge the changes in their new files with the original workbook (see the next section).

It's a good idea to inform the users of a shared workbook of your intention to remove the file from shared use. E-mail all the users and let them know the date and time after which the workbook will no longer be shared and open to their edits. That way, all the team members know the exact time after which their modifications will no longer be accepted (often a good inducement for the procrastinators to get their editing changes done).

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