Did you know that you can collaborate with others on a PowerPoint file in real-time using PowerPoint on the Web? (That’s the same thing as PowerPoint Online.) You can do the same in Microsoft Word and Excel, but I’ll focus on PowerPoint, of course.
Moreover, because you do this with PowerPoint on the Web, your collaborators don’t even need to own PowerPoint. Because you invite others to participate, only people with the link can access the presentation.
To distinguish the situation in which people collaborate but at different times, real-time collaboration is sometimes called co-authoring.
You can work with quite a few people at a time, even up to 30, but I promise you that so many people working on one presentation at a time will get confusing!
Here are the steps for collaborating on a presentation together.
1. Share your presentation
Whether your presentation is on your computer or online, click the Share button at the upper-right corner.
If your presentation is on your computer, PowerPoint prompts you to save it online and lists the online accounts you have.
Note: You can see where you’ve saved a presentation by choosing File>Info. The location is listed beneath the presentation’s name.
You can save it to OneDrive Personal, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint. You can see that I have both business and personal versions of OneDrive.
Note: OneDrive is Microsoft’s online folder system for file storage, whereas SharePoint is meant for larger enterprises and includes collaboration, a Contact Management System, and dashboards. Moreover, there are two versions of OneDrive: OneDrive Personal and OneDrive for Business, so it can get a little confusing. You may have more than one of these — for example, you may use SharePoint or OneDrive for Business at work and OneDrive Personal at home.
At the bottom of the Share dialog box is an option to “Attach a Copy Instead.” You can do this instead of saving the presentation online, but you won’t be able to collaborate in real-time. If you send the presentation, your colleague will be able to edit it. The PDF choice lets you send a PDF of the presentation, which you might do if you only want the other person to view the presentation.
Next, PowerPoint displays the Send Link dialog box, where you can choose to share the online presentation via email or you can get a link.
By default, the link allows your collaborator to edit the presentation, but you can click the arrow to the right of “Anyone with the Link Can Edit” label. This is an important security setting!
The Link Settings dialog box opens where you can:
- Uncheck “Allow Editing”
- Set an expiration date
- Require a password
Click Apply to close that dialog box.
Back in the Send Link dialog box, you then choose how you want to share the presentation — via email or by getting a link that you can provide in any way you want.
Email: If the person is a contact, you can probably type in the person’s name. If not, you can type in an email address. Then click Send.
Link: Click the Copy Link button, which copies the link to the clipboard. You can then paste it wherever you want.
If working online at the same time is important, then set up a time to work together. You can be on the phone with each other while you work, use the Comments feature within PowerPoint, or even work together in Microsoft Teams.
2. Edit online together
Open the presentation and start working on it. You might have to click “Edit in browser” first. You’ll see that prompt at the upper-right.
There’s a simplified ribbon that you can turn on or off. Turn it off to have an experience that’s closest to working offline.
Your presentation will be saved automatically as you work.
If someone else is viewing or working in the presentation, you see that name at the top-right corner of the ribbon. That other person might be shown as “Guest.” You’ll also see an image or icon with the person’s name or “Guest” where the person is editing, such as in a particular textbox
You’ll see a similar indicator on the thumbnail of the slide in the left column because you might be working on one slide while your collaborator is working on a different slide. In this way, you know where your collaborators are in the presentation.
You can watch the changes being made by your collaborator if you’re on the same slide. And your collaborator can see what you do.
3. Close the presentation
Because changes are saved automatically — you can see “Saved to OneDrive” at the top — you can just close the browser tab when you’re done. If you see a message that you might lose your changes, it means that OneDrive or SharePoint is still in the process of saving the file.
Have you collaborated on a presentation in real-time?
I’m curious to know if you have collaborated on a presentation in this way and how it went for you. Please leave a comment and share this with others, because I believe that this feature is both useful and underused.