How to use the LibreOffice Track Changes toolbar

Document collaboration in LibreOffice becomes much more efficient when you use the Track Changes toolbar.

Image: Jack Wallen

LibreOffice has come such a long way in a very short time. There are new features added with each release and old features are brought up to speed with the modern UI and usage.

Track Changes is a feature that has been around for quite some time and is required by many user types (such as myself). If you're unfamiliar with Track Changes, it enables you to make changes (and other additions) to a document in such a way that collaborators can see what you've done. So if you need to keep tabs on how/what changes are made, it's not only possible, it's easy (Figure A).

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Figure A

Figure A

Tracking changes to a document in LibreOffice

In recent iterations of LibreOffice, the user interface underwent a number of important changes, many of which bring the office suite well into the modern era. Track Changes is one such feature. Although there has been a Track Changes Toolbar for quite some time, it's been given just the right amount of polish to make it highly usable. But no matter which version of LibreOffice suite you use, the toolbar is there and ready to make your collaboration life easier.

Adding the Track Changes toolbar

Adding the Track Changes toolbar is quite easy. Once you have it added to the UI, you'll find document collaboration so much more efficient.

I'll demonstrate with LibreOffice, running on Elementary OS. To add the toolbar, do the following:

  1. Open LibreOffice
  2. Click View | Toolbars
  3. Click the Track Changes entry in the menu

Depending upon what other toolbars you have open, the Track Changes bar will probably be added to the bottom of the LibreOffice window (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

The Track Changes added to the bottom right of the LibreOffice window.

The Track Changes toolbar buttons are (from the left): Show Track Changes, Record Changes, Previous Change, Next Change, Accept Change, Reject Change, Manage Track Changes, Insert Comment, Insert Track Change Comment, Protect Track Change, Compare Non-Track Changed Document, and Merge Track Changed Document.

If you click the three horizontal lines at the left edge of the toolbar, you can then drag it to wherever you need it in the UI. You can place it at the top, on the bottom, or even make it a free-floating toolbar (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

A free-floating Track Changes toolbar.

The sidebar

The one thing you cannot do is add the Track Changes toolbar to the sidebar. Why? Because there's already a tab in that sidebar dedicated to managing changes. If you click on the second button from the bottom (in the sidebar), you'll see the Manage Changes tool (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

The Manage Changes tool in the LibreOffice sidebar.

The caveat to using the Manage Changes tab in the sidebar is that it only allows you to accept and reject changes. You cannot enable/disable the recording of changes, compare changes, merge changes, add comments, or protect changes. However, this sidebar feature is an outstanding component to use in conjunction with the Track Changes toolbar.

An outstanding addition

If you collaborate with other writers/editors/users, and you work with track changes, you owe it to yourself to start using the Track Changes toolbar. In conjunction with the Manage Changes tab in the sidebar, your collaboration will be more efficient than you've ever imagined.

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