Workbook Link support coming to Excel for the web

Published 08-18-2020 02:07 PM 18.4K 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.



Good addition to Excel for Web

Occasional Visitor


It is also important to be able to change source. Without that it's still limited. For now you will have to change all related cells manually.


@Joe McDaid , so far didn't win the lottery to check functionality. Do I understand correctly these are static links, i.e. can't be generated / modified by formulas like INDIRECT()? Hope it could be done with Office scripts. And how it works if one of workbooks is opened by Excel Desktop app?

Occasional Visitor

Is it similar to that of import range in Google spreadsheet.

Senior Member

Will this also be the solution for migrating Excel Workbooks with VLOOKUP to SharePoint?. As far as I understood, it allows to extract and update data stored in other SPO-Excel-Workobooks as long as the user has the permissions to open. Since you can generate a link it should be useable with formulars.

Occasional Visitor

When this feature will be  officially released and available to all excel for web users?

Regular Visitor

Hi @Joe McDaid - I desperately need this feature but can't find it anywhere.  Did they roll back the release?  Did something go wrong or do I simply not have access to it?  I'm using Excel for Web under the Basic subscription.

Senior Member

Hi @hobbitshire,

You can have a look on the M365 roadmap. ->

There is a entry for this feature which states it's currently in rollout Roadmap ID 71476

Since the entry was last updated in October maybe take the date with a grain of salt.


Kind regards


Regular Visitor

@Niklas MurrThanks for the link.  I guess the key phrase in the above article is "beginning to roll out".

Occasional Visitor

Microsoft, please enable this functionality to Sharepoint, Excel Web! We've been waiting years for it. In the meantime, we continue to send piles of money to Google Docs because they've supported this for years. Thank you.

Regular Visitor

@Niklas MurrQuick update - the workbook link feature is now live in Excel for Web and appears to be working well (at least it is for me here in the UK)

@hobbitshire , you are lucky, still don't have it even with UK locale

Regular Visitor

@Sergei BaklanI knew it was too good to be true.  I just went to do some work in the workbooks and lo and behold this feature has now been disabled.  I mean, it's not like anyone's work depends on it or anything ..... oh, but wait ..... it really does!  Anyway, all I have now are the memories of what could have been ..... .....

Occasional Visitor

is this feature available only for some microsoft365 subscriptions? i have 2 tenant..the first one has a office365E3 subscription and the feature is available...the second one has Microsoft Business Standard subscription and the feature isn't available. Doing something wrong?

@flysoft_re , I guess for Excel Online the lottery is more selects tenants, not subscriptions.

Occasional Visitor

When will this workbook link feature be available? I really need it.

Occasional Contributor

This is a great article @Joe McDaid., I have been waiting for this functionality for a while now. Is there any news when this will be rolled out to all tenants?  

@NeilShorrter , good question. GA is scheduled on Oct 2020 Microsoft 365 Roadmap | Microsoft 365

Regular Visitor

I don't see it on my Excel for web using Safari or Firefox on MacOS. 

Occasional Visitor

Todavia no nos aparece a nosotros en un tenant de Argentina, alguien sabe algo? no hay información.


Hi all, does anyone knows if the Workbook Link Support in Excel for the Web is live? I can't see any option available on mine to use, and really in need of that. Any help or clarofication would be really appreciated. Thanks

@CZadra , there are no such option for Excel Online, you have functionality or you don't have it. That's only to wait.

Occasional Visitor

@CZadra  , hice un ticket a ms por este tema, me dijeron que para recibir este cambio lo más rapido posible ponga en el tenant desde setup->org settings->profile (Tab) - targeted release for all users (middle option) , esta opción hará q te lleguen los cambios rápidamente, teóricamente en 5 días debería llegar.. eso me dijeron, por ahora han pasado 24 hs y nada, pero se supone q eso lo acelera al máximo, no sirve ponerlo por usuarios , tiene q ser para todos si o si, eso me explico el ingeniero.


Otro comentario, esta opción no tiene nada q ver con la versión de Office q uses , excel web es independiente de la versión de escritorio.




Occasional Visitor

Not quite what we're looking for.

So I get the link detail only when I copy from a (range of) cells from an on line sheet and perform a special (link) paste into another on line sheet.

The result is a function in the target cell that has a URL which points precisely to the source range of cells.


So far so good.


But: I cannot paste the same URL into a link I am setting up in the laptop Apps: Word, Excel, etc.


The Use Case we're needing to have supported is this:

I have a sharepoint located (on line) sheet listing data. The data consists of records, each record having some kind of significance.


Now I am writing an e-mail or Word docuument. Or I am creating a PPT. And I want to say: "... for this topic see such-and-such in the Record Log on Sharepoint."

And now I want the words 'such-and-such' to be the text of a web link with the link being the URL pointing to the (range of) cells in the sharepoint sheet.


The functionality developed so far, does not support this Use Case and for me, it is largely useless.

Occasional Visitor

BUT how is this different to "Edit Links" already available?

And does it enable the linking of references to spreadsheets saved in OneDrive?  That's what this al lstarted with. Links between spreadsheets on desktop Office 365 work fine. But put those same spreadsheets on OneDrive (in the same folder structure) and the links fail.

Has this been fixed?

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‎Aug 18 2020 02:07 PM
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