Collaborating on the same document used to be a tedious and sometimes painful process of distributing and then comparing returned files. Nowadays collaborating is easy if you have access to the cloud. Specifically, Office 2010 and 2013 make it easy to share documents on SkyDrive, where others can view and edit the document. You can also share Office 2003 and 2007 documents by using SkyDrive's interface to upload files from your local system.
This article is strictly a road map from your local system to SkyDrive by version. These instructions don't include troubleshooting insight and gotcha warnings. Fortunately, the potential for trouble is small — collaborating via SkyDrive is easy and secure. I'll use Word in the examples, but the process is similar in all Office applications.
Sharing Office 2013 documents via SkyDrive is the easiest route because you can do everything from within Office. First, open the file you want to share and then do the following:
- Click the File tab.
- In the left pane, choose Share.
- Click Save To Cloud (on the right) and then click your Windows Live SkyDrive.
- Click your account (the default). If none exists yet, this is the time to work through that process — just follow the prompts.
- Select the appropriate SkyDrive folder (if more than one).
- Click Save.
- You can set access properties for the file. For this example, you don't need to change anything. These options are application dependent.
- To invite others to view and edit the file, click Share in the left pane.
- The default option is Invite People; enter the email addresses of those you want to share the file with. You'll want to explore the other sharing options later.
- By default, Office 2013 lets anyone with an invitation edit the file, and SkyDrive will automatically save their changes. In this example, that's what we want, but in the future, take this opportunity to restrict editing permissions, if necessary, by choosing Can View from the Editing dropdown.
- You can add a descriptive message to the invitation, but this step isn't necessary.
- Click Share to send the invitations and upload the file to SkyDrive.
Each invitee will receive an email message that contains a hyperlink to the document on SkyDrive. All they have to do to view and edit this particular file using Office Web Apps is click the link. Only you and those you invite can view this document. The biggest improvement for Office 2013 users is that you can take care of everything from inside Office (even activating your SkyDrive account). If you decide to invite others later, click Share in the left pane and then select Invite People; you don't have to access your SkyDrive account to invite new people.
Office 2010 easily uploads documents, but you'll have to visit SkyDrive to send invitations. To upload a Word 2010 document to SkyDrive, do the following:
- Click the File tab.
- Click Save & Send in the left pane.
- Click Save To Web under Save & Send. Word will display a list of your SkyDrive folders. Choose an existing folder or click New to create a new one.
- Click Save As, and Word will default to the selected folder.
- Click Save.
You must navigate to the document on SkyDrive.Live.com and share the newly uploaded document:
- Access your SkyDrive account using the browser of your choice.
- Navigate to the appropriate folder if necessary.
- Right-click the document and choose Share.
- Enter the email addresses for those you want to share the document with.
- By default, invitees will be able to edit the document and they don't need a SkyDrive account. Be sure to change those settings for future documents as necessary.
2007 and 2003
If you're using Office 2007 or 2003, you can share documents for viewing and collaboration on SkyDrive. Access your SkyDrive account and navigate to the appropriate folder. Click Upload, locate the file on your local system, and then click Open. Once the documents are on SkyDrive, share them as instructed in the last section.
By default, Office 365 saves all files to SkyDrive. You can save files anywhere you like, but this version assumes that you prefer to work in the cloud.
I've supplied the basic instructions for sharing collaborative Office documents via SkyDrive. You'll want to explore all the options fully so you can get the most out of this helpful feature.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.