Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Using Outlook and your intranet to collaborate on Excel files

A lot of people attach files that they are working on to an email and send them to their colleagues for review and modification. There are numerous reasons why this is not a good practice including:
- clogging up the email system (each recipient receives the full file and if they return it the full file is sent back as well)
- this makes it hard to synchronise different changes from different people
- if people open files from their email and then modify them they are actually opening a file that Outlook has saved to a temp folder. Any changes are made to this file and can be lost easily.

There is a far better alternative. When you are working in an Excel file you can actually find the full intranet address in the web toolbar. To display this toolbar right click somewhere in the toolbar area and then select the web toolbar from the list. In this toolbar you will notice an address bar (similar to in your browser). Click in this address field to select the file's full path and name. Use Ctrl C to copy and then go your email. Do NOT paste into your email as this will probably not translate correctly. Instead choose Insert Hyperlink from the menu. Now paste the address into this dialog box and click OK.

This will paste a link to the file on your intranet. When you send this email the recipients can click that link and open the file directly on your intranet. Of course this is dependent on their intranet access and security levels. It will also not work if you send it to people outside your organisation. However it is a far better alternative in most cases to attaching the file and forwarding it. Your Exchange administrator will love it too!