Word’s New Can Review Sharing Permission

Making Word Review Mode Easier to Set

The Office 365 for IT Pros eBook is built from a set of Word documents (chapter files) that combine into one very large document to form the book. As you might expect, the writing team shares many documents. According to message center notification MC402119 (July 19, Microsoft 365 roadmap item 93400), Microsoft is making a UI change to make it easier for authors to set Word review mode in sharing links and encourage the use of review mode in editing sessions.

Essentially, when you share a Word document (stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online), you can choose a new sharing permission to ensure that the sharing link allows recipients to open the document in review mode only. Figure 1 shows a sharing link to set review mode in Word desktop. The ability to set review mode in a sharing link has existed for a few years. We’ll get to the details of the change Microsoft is making shortly.

Creating a review mode only sharing link
Figure 1: Creating a review mode only sharing link

Review Mode Functionality

When a sharing link recipient opens the document, Word enables review mode for the session (Figure 2). Review mode means that the reviewer doesn’t have full control over the content. They can’t change from review mode to enable full editing in either the online or desktop app. Instead, they can insert comments in the documents or make tracked changes. Later, the document owner can decide to accept or reject the comments or changes as they refine the content.

Word Online opens in review mode

Word review mode
Figure 2: Word Online opens in review mode

Sharing documents with review mode enabled should be the default go-to option. It allows subject matter experts to review content and make suggestions without allowing them the ability to do things like make and accept tracked changes, turn tracked changes off, or sneak in some unexpected text. Review mode gives control to the author and makes sure that they see every suggested change and update.

Changing the Sharing Link UI

The change made in MC402119 is not to Word, which has supported review mode for a couple of years (in both Online and desktop versions). Instead, it’s a change to the UI of the Sharing Link dialog to replace the Open in Review mode option as seen in Figure 1 with a Can Review option in the link settings permissions dropdown (Figure 3).

Using the new Can Review permission in a sharing link
Figure 3: Using the new Can Review permission in a sharing link

The new option is currently only available when using Word Online, SharePoint Online, or OneDrive for Business. Word desktop users can continue to set review mode only for a link. Both methods result in restricting sharing recipients to review mode. Including the option in the permissions menu highlights that review mode is available, which is probably why Microsoft has made the change. The change is currently rolling out to tenants worldwide and should be complete in early August.

Word Review Mode for Desktop and Other Apps

Microsoft hasn’t said if the permissions change in the sharing link will appear in Word desktop anytime soon, nor have they made any comment about bringing review mode to PowerPoint, Excel, or other apps. For now, Word is the only app where review mode is available. That’s not really a hardship unless you need to review a bunch of PowerPoint decks, but at least PowerPoint supports comments to make your views about slides known.

So much change, all the time. It’s a challenge to stay abreast of all the updates Microsoft makes across Office 365. Subscribe to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to receive monthly insights into what happens, why it happens, and what new features and capabilities mean for your tenant.

7 Replies to “Word’s New Can Review Sharing Permission”

    1. Save the document as a new file? The owner of the document is the only one who can change the permission granted to you to allow you to edit the original file.

  1. Anybody have a clue why Word has set my own local documents to review mode? They are and have been resident on my laptop, not shared, and I am the author/owner.

  2. Thanks for this article. I am finding that when a document is shared using ‘Can review’, it will only open in review mode in the web app; in the desktop app, it opens as read-only. I understand from your article that the ‘Can review’ UI option is supported by the web only, but do you know if there is no longer any means to share a document so that it will open in review mode in the desktop app?

  3. Am processing a story reviewed by FirstEditor for changes. When opened in Word and closed, the document is posted in Word file. Returning later to continue processing, the file will not open stating that it doesn’t exist. Repeated opening results in multiple files created none of which can be re-opened. Please advise.

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