Excel: Why Won't the Track Changes Feature Work in Excel?

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Problem: After I select Review, Track Changes, Highlight Changes, I cannot insert cells. What's going on?

Strategy: Track Changes is a great feature in Word. However, when you turn on Track Changes in Excel, Microsoft automatically makes your workbook a shared workbook.

  1. Tracking changes shares the workbook.

    The shared workbook function in Excel has so many limitations that it is nearly impossible to use. When you share a workbook, you cannot do any of the following tasks:

    • Insert blocks of cells
    • Create an Excel Table
    • Delete worksheets
    • Merge or unmerge cells
    • Sort or Filter by Formatting
    • Change conditional formatting or data validation
    • Create or change charts or PivotCharts
    • Insert drawing objects, hyperlinks, or scenarios
    • Assign, change, or remove passwords, protect or unprotect sheets
    • Create, change, or view scenarios
    • Use automatic subtotals
    • Group or outline data
    • Create or change pivot tables, including using slicers
    • Create or modify sparklines
    • Record, edit, or assign macros
    • Enter CSE or array formulas
    • Use data tables
    • Work with XML data
    • Use a data form

    It is possible that a novice Excel user might never use these features. It is even possible that before you bought this book, you never used them. However, sharing a workbook makes it virtually unusable for an intermediate Excel user. There is no strategy to get around this. Unless your changes will involve only radically simple worksheet changes, you should avoid the Track Changes and Share Workbooks options.

    Alternate Strategy: Visit Litera.com for a third-party application that can compare an original and current version of a workbook and show all changes, including changes to graphic elements such as charts.