Track changes in Word Online

Here’s an early Christmas present from the Office 365 team… but only for some of you. I’m not sure how they track who has been naughty or nice so I suspect this might be one of those features that is flighting to some Targeted Release users but not others.

Yesterday while co-authoring a document with Jamie LaPorte, I noticed that within Word Online (currently known as “Word on the web” – but that doesn’t really roll off the tongue) that I had the ability to enable the Track Changes feature. This is a feature that has been asked for by many users a LONG time!

The reality is that Word Online offers a far superior co-authoring experience due to the fact that everyone is working on the “live” document, as opposed to the constant synchronisation that occurs when using the Word desktop app. However the inability to track changes has been a showstopper for many who rely on that feature.

Word Online has actually had the ability to track changes for quite some time, however as outlined in this support article: “You can’t see tracked changes in Word for the web but they’re still there.”

Unfortunately this has offered little comfort to users as they still want to see the track changes effect as they work through it, otherwise they are somewhat flying blind.

What does it look like?

The first thing I noticed in the ribbon was the appearance of Track Changes:

Interestingly I appear to have a bit more control over what is tracked in Word Online:

Versus Word on the desktop (I use dark mode):

The end result is similar to what you see in Word on the desktop, where a strikethrough and colour is applied to text that has been changed, and a vertical line appears for every line in the document where a change has been made:

When will it be in my tenant?

When I posted on Twitter to ask if anyone else was aware of the Track Changes in Word Online availability, most were not aware of it and some of those that checked could not see it.

Searching around I found a post on the Word UserVoice site with commentary from a Microsoft product manager on October 2nd 2019 stating that it’s being worked on. Additionally I found a post on the Office 365 UserVoice site that unfortunately did not have any response from Microsoft.

Also searching the Microsoft 365 Roadmap there does not appear to be any reference to this functionality when searching for the term track changes, Word Online, or Word on the web. A search of the Message Center in the Microsoft 365 admin center also yielded no results.

So when will it be in your tenant? I have no idea, but if you do see it – enjoy the early Christmas present!

Also published on Medium.

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