By Mike Knight

Microsoft Excel’s new @mentions feature allows users to create, assign, and track tasks in a workbook, thereby making collaboration in Excel easier. 

Added To Roadmap 2020 

The @mentions feature, which was added to Excel for the web in 2020 and added to the Microsoft 365 roadmap in January 2021, has been made popular through its use within Teams.

Along with comments and tasks, @mentions is a way to give feedback, communicate with collaborators, and guide them to a specific part of the document. It works in a document in the following way: 

  • Right mouse click to add a comment to part of a shared document – in this case, a cell in an Excel spreadsheet. 
  • Type ‘@mention,’ select he co-worker to send the comment to, type the comment, and select the arrow to post it. 
  • The selected co-worker receives an email notification letting them know that they need to act. They can respond from the email or select the link to go to the comment in the document. 

Hyperlinks Can Be Included Too 

As of January, Microsoft announced that, following an update, users would be able to put hyperlinks into comments added to spreadsheets. 

@mentions General Availability In October 

Desktop Excel users are the first to get the @mentions feature, although Microsoft says that it has been added to the rolling out cycle with general availability scheduled for October 2022 

Google Has @mentions 

Microsoft’s competitors have long supported the ability to tag other users. In Google Workspace, for example, @mentions enables users to tag their colleagues and co-workers whether they are within or outside an organisation. The ability to tag other users is also present in Slack and Atlassian. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Enabling this feature in Excel is a widening of Microsoft’s plan to introduce more features across its 365 apps that make collaborative working easier, thereby meeting the needs of the many businesses that now operate home/remote and hybrid working. It also helps Microsoft to keep up with competing platforms that already use @mentions and tagging, e.g. Google Workspace.

Microsoft has been introducing many features and even new apps, (e.g. Loop) over the last year to help make collaborative working easier for users. The Excel app specifically has also been boosted with improvements for collaborative working. In 2021, for example, it was given new capabilities including co-authoring, Dynamic Arrays, XLOOKUP, and LET functions to allow users to collaboratively work with others and analyse data easily.

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