Share Word documents with multiple users using comments

Collaborate on Word documents through comments

Collaborate with others on Word documents and share them publicly or privately. Did you know you can share Word docs through inserted comments? Here’s how using the free Word web app online.

Using the free Word web app at onedrive.com or office.com you can work with other people on a document. You, work colleagues, a team or friends can all share a document and collaborate on it, and you can all edit it online in Word running in a web browser. The web app is more powerful than you might imagine.

Word documents created online can be made public and anyone can view them or even edit them too, if you choose. You can also share Word documents privately and only the people you invite can see them or edit them. Public or private sharing, it is up to you.

One way to share a Word document is to open it in the Word wen app, go to the File menu and select Share. Another way to share a document is to select it at the onedrive.com website and then click Share.

These are not the only ways to share a Word document and one you may not have considered is through comments. Did you know that you can insert a comment in a Word document and then share a URL that takes people straight to the comment? Others can then open the document and view or edit it through this shared comment. Let’s see how it works.

For this guide I will be using the free version of Microsoft Word that runs in a web browser at the onedrive.com or office.com websites.

1 Add comments to Word documents

Add comments to Microsoft Word documents
Add comments to a Word document using the Word web app

Adding a comment to a Word document is straightforward. Go to onedrive.com or office.com and open an existing document or create a new document.

  1. Click Comments in the top right corner to open a comments panel on the right.
  2. Place the cursor in the document where you want to insert a comment and then click the New button in the Comments panel.
  3. Type your comment into the box that appears.
  4. Click the post button when you have finished.

2 Open the comments menu

The Comments menu in Microsoft Word
The Comments menu in Word web app

After inserting a comment, more can be added. Just move the cursor to the place in the document where you want to insert a comment and click New again. Comments have a menu with some useful options, like Edit comment and Delete thread – comments and replies. Comments can be shared.

  1. Select a comment and then click the three dots in the top right corner to open the comment menu.
  2. Click Link to comment to create a web link to this comment.

3 Create a shareable link to a Word doc

A URL to share a Word document online
Create a share link for a Word document

Don’t click that Copy button! At least not yet. The default setting is to allow anyone with the link to be able to edit the document. Anyone! They do not even need to have a Microsoft account. The URL is so complex it cannot be guessed, but if you give the URL to someone and they give it to someone else, pretty soon that document could be public on the internet and anyone could open it, edit it, and delete the contents.

Click Anyone with the link can edit.

4 Show the document shared link settings

Options and permissions for sharing a Word document
Set the sharing permissions for a Word document

If you want to make the document public, you should at least clear the Allow editing checkbox, which will prevent anyone but you from changing it. They will be able to view it, but not edit it.

You might also want to set a document password so only people you choose to give the password to can open it. An expiration date can also be set. These two options are for paying Microsoft 365 subscribers only. Users of the free Word web app cannot set passwords or expiration dates.

5 Shared Word docs with selected people

Limit who can access a shared Word document
Editing permissions in shared Word documents

Instead of sharing the Word document with anyone and everyone with the link. Click Specific people and enter the email address of one or more people to share it with. Even if someone shares the link, they will not have access to the document because they are not on the Specific people list.

Choose whether to let the people edit the document or not with the Allow editing checkbox.

6 Share a document link

A link to a shared Word document
Share a link to a Word document

After setting the permissions, click the Apply button to return to the link and copy it and share it. Do not share a document with everyone and then try to limit it to certain people, it will not work. Stop sharing the document completely, then share it again with just the people you choose.

7 View comments in Word

Comments in a shared Word document
Comments in a shared Word document

After sharing a document through a comment, their comments and replies can be read in the Comments panel on the right of the Word document. In the screenshot above, I shared a document with everyone and you can see a comment from an anonymous person as Guest User. A name is shown when another user with a Microsoft account comments.

Summing up

Working with other people on Word documents is easy when you use the Word web app online. You don’t even need a paid account and a free Microsoft account is sufficient. You can choose to let others view or view and edit your documents. They can comment and reply to your comments, which can be useful when creating important documents or reports.

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About Roland Waddilove 417 Articles
Roland Waddilove is interested in technology: Computers, phones, gadgets, software and internet. Long ago he worked on computer magazines, but is now mostly a tech writer for the web.