Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring enables real-time coauthoring on Office desktop, web, and mobile. You can simultaneously edit and collaborate on Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files on desktop in real-time, with all changes automatically saved to your Box account.
This complements our existing integration with Office Online, enabling you and your team to coauthor Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents in Box whether they are working in Office on desktop or web — with all edits automatically saved back to Box.
Coauthoring is available for the following:
- Desktop app (Box Drive and Office desktop apps)
- Web app (Box.com and Office for the web)
- Mobile apps (Box iOS and Android apps and Office mobile apps for iOS and Android) - coming soon
Note: Box Tools does not support coauthoring. You can coauthor when opening files on the Office desktop app from the Box.com website without the need for Box Tools. When you add Box as a location (and sign in), this feature is automatically enabled and replaces Box Tools (if you have already installed it).
- macOS (v11.5 and above)
- Windows operating system (10 and above)
- iOS & Android (coming soon)
Note: Box’s general support policy for operating systems and browsers apply for this feature
- Office 365 apps only
* Min Office 365 Versions that support coauthoring
- Windows - 16.0.15128.20178
- Mac - 16.60.410.0
* Perpetual licenses (e.g., Office 2016, 2019 etc.) not supported.
The licenses listed below and their equivalents (*) support coauthoring Box files on Microsoft Office desktop apps:
- https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/business/compare-all-microsoft-365-business-products [microsoft.com]
- https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/compare-microsoft-365-enterprise-plans [microsoft.com]
- https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/government/ [microsoft.com]
Note: “Microsoft 365 Business Basic”, “Microsoft 365 F3”, “Office 365 A1” don’t include support for the Microsoft Office Desktop apps which would license-wise limit coauthoring to web (Office Online) and Mobile (when available) for members with these subscriptions.
Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint
See the following document for a comprehensive list of file types that support coauthoring:
- Supported Office update channel(s)
- Microsoft’s Current Channel and Monthly Enterprise Channel for Office 365 updates (latest releases)
- If using Box Drive (not required), v2.26 or above.
- If using Mac devices and Box Drive, Mac OS 11.5 or above.
Deciding whether to use Box for Office or Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring
If you have access to the Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring integration, we recommend using it. This integration is enabled when you add Box as a storage location from within the Microsoft Office desktop application. Box for Microsoft Office provides users:
- access to their Box files from within the Office application,
- ability to share files from Box and
- the capability to coauthor documents.
Enabling this feature requires that you are in the correct Microsoft Office 365 update channels and also have enabled the feature for the user. This integration is available on both Windows and Mac platforms.
If you do not have access to Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring integration, for example, you are not in the support Microsoft Office 365 update channels or are in perpetual versions of Microsoft Office, you can continue using the Box for Office plugin. While using the Box for Office plugin provides users the capability to open files from within the Office application and the ability to share files from Box, users will not be able to coauthor with the others at the same time. This integration is available only on the Windows platform.
We do not recommend using both as it might result in user confusion when accessing files from within the Microsoft Office desktop application.
Determining whether coauthoring is enabled
Use one of four methods establish whether coauthoring is enabled for you:
- Login to your box.com account and click on your avatar on the top right, then select App Center.
- Below your avatar, click My Apps.
- In the My Apps section, see whether the Box for Microsoft Office (Desktop) app is enabled.
After a user adds Box as an online storage location in the Microsoft Office apps, the above application is added to the user’s My Apps page. To disable desktop coauthoring, a user can remove the above app.
In the box.com app, if you have enabled coauthoring, you'll have the option to open with “Microsoft Excel Desktop”.
If you're not enabled for coauthoring, you'll see the option to open the file with “Microsoft Excel”. Using this option will open the file on the desktop Microsoft Excel application using Box Tools.
Within the Office application, the user can navigate to Open and see whether Box is included added under Other locations. If the app is added, the user's sign-in username is displayed.
- As an administrator, sign into the Box Admin Console.
- Navigate to Apps → Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring and see whether the user is enabled.
During the phased GA roll-out of Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring feature, once Box enables the feature for your enterprise, you would need to set up the feature for your team members from the Box Admin Console.
* Once the Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring feature is fully GA, Box will enable this feature for all enterprises (and users), similar to enabling other integrations from the Box Admin Console.
You will need to add Box as an online storage location from within the Microsoft Office desktop app (any one of Word/Excel/PowerPoint) to start coauthoring.
See the slide deck above for steps on adding Box as a place in the Office desktop application.
Auto-provisioning Box as a place for your team
Box and Microsoft provide a way for administrators to automatically provision Box as an online storage location within the Microsoft Office desktop applications. See the following document to auto-provision Box as a place: Add-a-Place Provisioning | Microsoft Docs.
Collaborating with Office files
With your team members, follow these steps:
- Go to your Files from either the Box web app or from your desktop files folder.
- Open the desired Office file (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx).
- From the web app, click "Open" on the top right side:
- Start editing.
- From here, you’ll see everyone working on the document.
- Close the file when done with editing.
- The file stays open until the file is successful saved.
You can also open a new document to live edit.
Desktop Box folder (Windows File Explorer):
- Double-click the file you want to edit
- Begin editing
- Share with your team members to live edit.
Sharing from the Office desktop application
When you click on the Share button within the Office desktop application, you can open the Box share page from the web browser. If you are signed in to Box web, then clicking this option opens the document preview page with the share modal open. You can get a shared link, update permissions or add collaborators right from within the share modal.
View File Version History
You can view the file version history in Box from the Office desktop application. When you click “view version history” in the Office desktop application you can preview the document with the share modal open.
Identifying whether document is being coauthored
In the Office Desktop Application:
Single/Multiple user sessions: When you are solely working in the document, the "AutoSave" option is turned on in the Office app. You can also click on the arrow next to the filename in the Office Ribbon and see the location the file is saved.
Multiple user sessions: When you and your team are in an Office document in Box, your team can also see avatars of other collaborators who are in the document at the same time. Clicking on the avatar and selecting the "Go To Location" option shows you where a collaborator is within the document. You can also hover over your team member's cursor to identify one another in the document.
In Box Drive and Box Web
With coauthoring enabled and at least one user having the file open in a coauthoring session, you see the coauthoring overlay icon in Box Drive. All collaborators also see the new overlay icon, indicating that, if they have the correct set up, they can coauthor the file with other collaborators.
Note: If a collaborator is not set up for coauthoring, the file opens in read-only mode if the file is being coauthored by others.
Identifying whether an account is using Box for Office or Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring
In the Office application, navigate to Open.
The Box for Office plugin is displayed below the Recent tab. It does not, however, display details regarding the account you’ve signed into.
The Box storage location that enables Box for Microsoft Office coauthoring is displayed under Other locations . You'll see your login username.
For coauthoring of Office files in Box, data for files being edited may be sent to Microsoft's Office Collaboration Service to enable coauthoring. This is similar to Box's existing integration with Office Online, where data must flow between Box and Microsoft to enable this collaborative experience.
Files enabled for coauthoring
You may choose to enroll only a subset of your team members to coauthoring. When enabling the feature in the Box Admin console, you have the option to choose select individuals whom you want to enroll.
Note: If you have enabled coauthoring for your entire enterprise, then all files owned by your enterprise are enabled for coauthoring. This is the preferred setting.
Any document that an enrolled team member owns is accessible for coauthoring by that and any other enrolled member. However, any document owned by a non-enrolled member is not accessible for coauthoring.
- If User A is enrolled in coauthoring, then they can coauthor all Office files in Box.
- If User B is not enrolled in coauthoring, then they cannot coauthor any files they own nor can other users that open User B's files. However, if User B's organization enables Box for Office Online within the Box Admin Console, then User B can coauthor their files.
All your edits are saved to Box, with a new version created when one of the following conditions happen:
- Five minutes has passed from the last created version
- A collaborator downloads the file within 5 minutes of the last version
- A collaborator completes a coauthoring session (closes the document)
- Box Production/Sandbox environment
- Box Verified Enterprise
Compliance levels supported
- FedRamp Moderate
Once Box is added as an online storage location, when opening files from Box (web app, Box Drive or Box web), you can see the protected view notification in the Office app.
See the following document on how to suppress the above notification from being displayed to your team members:
For additional help or support related questions, visit the following support page: Support for Box for Microsoft Office Coauthoring – Box Support
- Microsoft licenses compatibility: Perpetual licenses of Office (Office 2016, 2019 etc.) do not support co-authoring for Box files.
- Download stats are not captured when you open the file in coauthoring mode on Office desktop/online applications. Check back frequently for when this is updated.
- When opening a document, you may be asked to login despite already having done so. Microsoft and Box are working on this for you to only login once.
- When a folder has the hide collaborators option in Box checked, then files in those folders cannot be co-authored.
- External Links in Excel are not fully supported with coauthoring for files stored on Box. The link created will only work for the user who created the link. Other users will get a login dialog when attempting to update the link. Microsoft and Box are working on a plan to address this issue.