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Do you have any ideas on how to allow users to comment/discuss on contents in Word/Excel files when the users only has read permissions to the documents?

Ideally we would like to use the built-in commenting functionality of Word/Excel, but afaik. that is only available when write permissions are granted?

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Users won't be able to make comments on the file as they only have read-only permission so that cannot edit the file.

As a workaround, you may try following:

1.Set "Restrict Editing" for that document and only allow for "Comment" of editing in the document.

You need to use Word desktop app to set restrict editing.

For details, please refer to Allow changes to parts of a protected document

2.Then share the document with users with Edit permission. Without knowing the password, users can't edit the content of the document, but they can add comment in it.

Note: protection enabled document cannot be edited in Word for the web, so users will need to open the document in Word desktop app to add comment.

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  • Thank you very much. We'll evaluate and decide if it meets our requirements. Dec 11, 2023 at 7:48
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For Excel, a roughly parallel workaround is to

  1. Protect the sheet or workbook (Review -> Protect Sheet)
  2. Consider password-protecting the sheet or workbook to discourage the individual using the Excel document from simply turning off protection.
  3. Ensure 'Edit objects' is selected for the protected sheet or workbook (comments are considered objects in Excel)

At this point, if you share the sheet with another individual, they should be able to add comments but should not have the ability to make other edits to cells.

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