Workbook Link support coming to Excel for the web
Published Aug 18 2020 02:07 PM 93.5K Views

When collecting data from multiple workbooks, it’s often desirable to link directly to the data. Why? It provides a record of where the data was sourced and, if the data changes, you can easily refresh it. This has made Workbook Link support a highly requested feature for our web users. Today, we are excited to announce that Workbook Link support is beginning to roll out to Excel for the web.


This was previously only available in Excel for Windows and Excel for Mac, and is an important step on our journey to meeting one of our key goals: "Customers can use our web app for all their work and should never feel they need to fall back to the rich client". You can read more about our web investment strategy in Brian's recent post.


Creating a new Workbook Link

To create a new Workbook Link, follow these simple steps:


  • Open two workbooks in Excel for the web. They should be stored in either OneDrive or SharePoint.
  • In the source workbook, copy the range.
  • In the destination workbook, “paste links” via the right click menu or via paste special on the home tab.

The gif below provides a brief demonstration.


Creating Workbook LinksCreating Workbook Links

You can also explicitly reference the workbook using the following reference pattern. ='https://domain/folder/[workbookName.xlsx]sheetName'!CellOrRangeAddress


Opening a workbook that contains Workbook Links

When you open a workbook that contains Workbook Links, you will see a yellow bar notifying you that the workbook is referencing external data.


Data Connection WarningData Connection Warning

If you ignore or dismiss the bar, we will not update the links and instead keep the values from before. If you click the “Enable Content” button, Excel for the web will retrieve the values from all the linked workbooks.


Managing Workbook Links

To help you manage Workbook Links, we’ve added a new Workbook Links task pane. The task pane can be accessed by pressing the Workbook Links button on the Data tab or via the “Manage Workbook Links” button on the yellow bar above.


Workbook Links button on the Data tabWorkbook Links button on the Data tab

You can see the task pane below with its menus expanded below.

Workbook Links TaskpaneWorkbook Links Taskpane

The task pane lists all your linked workbooks and provides you with information on the status of each of the linked workbooks. If the link could not be updated, the status will explain the cause. So that you can quickly spot issues, any workbook that cannot be updated will be bubbled to the top of the list. 

At a global level you can take the following actions:

Refresh all: This triggers an immediate refresh of all linked workbooks.

Refresh links automatically: When enabled, this causes Excel to periodically check for updated values while you are in the workbook.

Break all links: This removes all the Workbook Links by replacing those formulas with their current values.


At a workbook level you can take the following actions:

Refresh workbook: This triggers an immediate refresh of that linked workbook.

Open workbook: This opens the linked workbook in another tab.

Break links: This removes links to that workbook by replacing those formulas with their values.

Find next link: This selects the next occurrence of a link to that linked workbook. (Great for quickly finding phantom links)


Workbook Links vs External Links

Direct links to external workbooks have historically been referred to simply as “External Links”. As we continue to add more external data sources to Excel, the term “External Links” has become ambiguous. To improve clarity going forward, we will use the term “Workbook Links” instead.


Learn More

You can find additional information about Workbook Links on our help page.


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Last update:
‎Aug 18 2020 02:07 PM
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