Worksets & worksharing in Revit

5 min read

If you plan to work as part of a team within Revit, it is essential to set up file sharing capabilities with your model. This method is known as ‘worksharing’. Workshared models behave very differently from non-workshared models, and it is critical to understand the differences. Only one person can use a non-workshared Revit file at any one time, and this file can be copied and pasted like any other file you typically use. However, to allow multiple to use the same model simultaneously, you’ll need to enable worksharing.

Why amalgamating files doesn’t always work

New Revit users often assume that they will just work in ‘their version’ of the model and copy and paste it into the main model once ready. However, it is essential to note that Revit behaves differently from other software, and copy/pasting isn’t always possible. This phenomenon is because Revit is parametric with elements hosted to other elements. Copy and pasting won’t work if those ‘parent’ elements aren’t in the new file. This limitation means that it is best to use a workshared model from the outset

Purpose of worksets

Worksets, which are part of the worksharing process, allow you to divide up portions of the model along logical building divisions. Don’t think of these as layers; think of them more as building assemblies and components. Whereas in 2D CAD, you might have doors and walls as separate layers, in Revit, you might have Facade, Core, and Interiors as separate worksets. Worksets act on many levels.

On a large project, worksets allow team members to manage what goes into the active RAM on their workstations. Each workset can be selected to load or not load when you open a project. Think of this as partially opening a project. Choosing to leave a workset off means that you won’t load that information into the computer’s active memory, making the model easier to manipulate and manage. It will be ‘lighter’ and more responsive. Views will open quicker. And when you need to see your work in context with the other worksets, simply turn on the worksets that weren’t previously loaded. This workflow is a much more powerful way of controlling graphics than only using Visibility Graphics.


When working on a shared model, sometimes two people will try to edit the same element simultaneously. If desired, worksets can be used to ‘own’ an element, which prevents anyone from editing that element. Generally, however, it is recommended that you don’t ‘own’ a worksets (or, in Revit’s terminology, make it ‘editable’). Instead, it is better to ‘borrow’ an element. When you edit an element that another team member is not editing, you automatically become the borrower of the element and can make the changes you need.

Enabling worksharing

To activate worksets in Revit 2016 or earlier, click on the ‘Workset’ button in the bottom ribbon or go to Collaborate > Manage Collaboration > Worksets.


However, for Revit 2017 and above it is no longer possible to activate worksharing via the Workset button. It is only possible via the Collaborate tab > Manage Collaboration panel > Worksets. You will be prompted to save the newly created central file before you can proceed.

Default worksets

When you enable worksharing, Revit creates default worksets and assigns project elements and settings to these worksets. The default worksets are as follows:

  • Shared Levels and Grids. Contains all existing levels, grids, and reference planes. You can rename this workset.
  • Workset1. Contains all existing model elements in the project. When you create worksets, you can reassign elements from Workset1 into the appropriate workset. You can rename this workset, but you cannot delete it.

Hit the New button to create as many worksets you require, then select ‘OK’. To automate this process, checkout our create and rename workset tutorial which uses Dynamo.


When saving the project, you will be warned that you are about to create a central model. Select ‘Yes’ to proceed.


Synchronize With Central

Once the central model has been created, you can then use the Synchronize With Central command and relinquish all the worksets you just created and hence own. Similarly, you can use the Synchronize With Central command when you are ready to publish your work to the central file for the rest of your team to see. Using Synchronize With Central also acquires all the changes that other team members have made and loads those into your local file. You can access this command in a couple of ways:

  • Collaborate tab > Synchronize > Synchronize With Central 
  • Use the Synchronize With Central button up in the top left. This button has a lightning bolt on it and is different from the standard save button, which only saves your local file without publishing to central.

For both options, ensure to check all the available checkboxes so that you relinquish elements so that your teammates can work on them.


Local file

Now that you’ve made a central file, you must work in a Local File from now on. There are two main ways to do this:

Option 1: Copy central file

You can simply open the network location of the central file and drag a copy from the network to your desktop or anywhere on your C: drive. Be careful not to move the file – only copy it. This option is fine, but you must repeat this option each time you want to open the file so that when you open it, it will have the latest information from the Central file in it. Otherwise, there is a risk that your local file will be out of date and have trouble Synchronizing with Central.

Option 2 (Preferred): Open as a new local file

The second and preferred option is to use the open command, browse to the central file and open it. By default, it will be set to ‘Create new Local’ file. This setting prevents you from accidentally working in the central file, which can corrupt the file.



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