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How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Brady Gavin
How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides fileBrady Gavin
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Brady Gavin has been immersed in technology for 15 years and has written over 150 detailed tutorials and explainers. He’s covered everything from Windows 10 registry hacks to Chrome browser tips. Brady has a diploma in Computer Science from Camosun College in Victoria, BC. Read more.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Apps in the Google Suite (Docs, Sheets, and Slides) keep track of all the edits, changes, and versions of a file so you can revert to an earlier version if you need to. Here’s how to do it.

First, open up a file you have stored on Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. We’ll be using Google Docs, but the process is the same on the other two services as well.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Open the “File” menu, click the “Version History” submenu, and then click the “See Version History” command. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Note: If you don’t have edit permissions for a file, you won’t be able to view the Version History section of a file. This won’t be a problem if you created the file, of course.

Versions of a file are grouped with related changes on the right side of the window. Depending on how meticulous you are, they might have proper names, or they could just be sorted by the time you created them. Each version is a collection of edits that are grouped and merged based on the age of the file or the size of each version. This is done to save storage space on Google’s servers.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Clicking a specific version will temporarily revert your file to that state in the main window to the left. It will also display the changes that were made along with who made them.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

To get an even more granular view, click the chevron located next to a version and then click a specific event to view that version.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Once you’ve decided on a version you want to switch back to, click the “Restore This Version” button at the top of the window.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

A pop-up will warn you that your document is about to be reverted to a different version. Click “Restore.”

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

If you aren’t happy with the restored version of your file and want to go back to a previous version, don’t worry; all is not lost. Google won’t automatically erase anything. Instead, it makes a copy of the version you selected and makes it the current one. Head back to Version History by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H. From here, repeat the previous steps to restore your file back to the previous one, which should be located near the top of the list.

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How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file Brady Gavin
Brady Gavin has been immersed in technology for 15 years and has written over 150 detailed tutorials and explainers. He’s covered everything from Windows 10 registry hacks to Chrome browser tips. Brady has a diploma in Computer Science from Camosun College in Victoria, BC.
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When you are working with big spreadsheets and large amount of data, it is always a possibility that you will inadvertently change the wrong data, or you will copy and paste the wrong information. This problem can be made even worse when you are collaborating with a team of people on a single file.

Google Sheets makes it easy for a large team to work on data in a centralized location, so it’s very likely that you will discover incorrect data that is very difficult (or even impossible) to fix. Luckily Google Sheets has an awesome feature that stores your revision history, which means that you can go back to an older version of a file before a mistake occurred. Our guide below will help you to find that revision history so that you can restore an older version of the file.

See also

How to Find the Google Sheets Revision History and Restore an Older Version

The steps in this article were performed using the Chrome browser version of Google Sheets. This application provides you with the ability to restore a version of your spreadsheet’s history to a snapshot of that file at a particular time and date. Once you complete these steps the current version of the file will be replaced with the version that you have chosen to restore.

Step 1: Open your Web browser and access your Google Drive at https://drive.google.com/drive/my-drive. if you aren’t already signed into your Google Account, then you will need to enter those credentials to continue.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Step 2: Double-click the file whose version history you wish to restore.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Step 3: Click File at the top of the window, then click the See revision history option.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Step 4: Select the version of the file that you wish to restore from the Revision history column at the right side of the window.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Step 5: Click the Restore This Revision button at the top of the window.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Step 6: Click the Restore button to confirm that you wish to restore the revision.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Note that the older revisions will still be available, so you can always go back to previous version if you find that you have selected the wrong file revision.

How to View Cell Revision History in Google Sheets

Recently Google Sheets has provided the ability to view the cell history changes for individual cells as well. Note, however, that you can’t restore a previous version from the cell history.

  1. Find the cell whose history you wish to view.
  2. Right-click the cell, then select Show edit history.
  3. Click on the arrows to view the various edits for that cell.

How to Copy an Earlier Version of a File in Google Sheets

This option provides you with the ability to create a separate copy of the file from your revision history. you can then elect to share that copy of the file with others.

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Choose the Version history option.
  3. Click on See version history.
  4. Click on the three dots to the right of the version you want to copy.
  5. Select the Make a copy option.
  6. Give it a name, choose whether to share it with the same people, then click OK.

Restoring Older Versions of Files in Google Sheets on Android or iOS

Note that this feature is currently not available on the mobile app versions of Google Sheets. Anyone wishing to restore an older version of a file in Google Sheets will need to do so through a Web browser like Chrome, Firefox or Edge by navigating to https://drive.google.com and opening the Sheets file from there.

Are you working on a spreadsheet in Google Sheets that needs to be in the CSV file format? Learn how to save as a .csv from Google Sheets to format your information with that file type.

Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech tutorials since 2008. His writing has appeared on dozens of different websites and been read over 50 million times.

After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science he spent several years working in IT management for small businesses. However, he now works full time writing content online and creating websites.

His main writing topics include iPhones, Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Android, and Photoshop, but he has also written about many other tech topics as well.

See changes made to your files in Drive and keep track of who made those changes. You might see changes when someone:

  • Edits or comments in Google Docs
  • Renames a file or folder
  • Moves or removes a file or folder
  • Uploads a new file to a folder
  • Shares or unshares an item

View past activity

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. On the left click My Drive.
  3. In the upper right, click Info .
  4. To see recent changes, click Activity.
  5. To see the activity of a specific file or folder, click the file or folder.
  6. To see older changes, scroll down on the right side.

Save and restore recent versions

Only the most recent versions of past documents will be saved, unless you click Keep forever.

Download recent versions

You can download and keep old copies of PDF files, images, and other files stored in Google Drive.

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. Click on the file you want to download.
  3. At the top right, click More .
  4. Click Manage versions.
  5. Next to the version you want to download, click More .
  6. To save a copy to your computer, click Download.

Upload a new version

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. Click on the file you want to replace.
  3. At the top right, click More .
  4. Click Manage versions.
  5. Click Upload new version.

Tip: If you upload a new version of a file owned by someone else, the original owner will stay the same.

Delete an older version

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. Click on the file you want to replace.
  3. At the top right, click More .
  4. Click Manage versions.
  5. Next to the version you want to delete, click More Delete.

Version history

Version history for Google Docs, Sheets, & Slides is different than file versions in Google Drive. Learn how to see the history of changes for Google files.

You can see changes that have been made to a document in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

Compare earlier versions of a file

On your computer, open a document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

At the top, click File Version history See version history.

Choose the latest version. You can find who updated the file and their changes.

Optional:

  • To find grouped versions: In the right panel, click Expand .
  • To return to the original current version, at the top left, click Back .

Tip: To browse a document’s version history, you need permission to edit.

Important: This feature is available to only Google Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, and Education Plus customers.

  1. On your computer, open a document at docs.google.com.
  2. Select part of the document and right-click Show editors.
  1. On your computer, open a spreadsheet at sheets.google.com.
  2. Right-click a cell Show edit history.

Note: Some changes might not show up in the edit history. Some examples are:

  • Added or deleted rows and columns
  • Changes to the cell’s format
  • Changes made by formulas

Restore an earlier version

On your computer, open a document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

At the top, click File Version history See version history.

In the right panel, choose an earlier version.

At the top, click Restore this version Restore.

Copy an earlier version

You can make a copy and edit earlier versions of a file.

On your computer, open a document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

At the top, click File Version history See version history.

In the right panel, next to the version you want to copy, click More Make a copy.

Enter a name for your copy.

Choose where to save the file.

To share the file with the same people, click Share it with the same people.

Click OK.

Create a named version

  1. On your computer, open a document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
  2. At the top, click FileVersion historySee version history.
  3. Choose a previous version. You can find who updated the file and their changes.
  4. Click MoreName this version.
  • You can add up to 40 named versions per document.
  • You can add up to 15 names versions per spreadsheet.
  • To only show named versions, turn on Only show named versions .

Unable to see a previous version of your file?

The revisions for your file may occasionally be merged to save storage space.

Note: If you don’t have permission to edit a file, you won’t be able to see the version history.

Rather than creating a new file, you may just need to create a named version of that file that you can refer to–or print–later. Here’s how to manage the file version from your desktop browser.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides all let you save a named version of a file. This helps reduce the number of files you need–and makes it easier to see earlier versions of a document, too.

People who don’t use named versions often end up with lots of files with similar names. For example, one of my clients asked, “How can I easily find my most recent file for this event?” Google Drive search results displayed a long list of files: “2018 Event,” “2017 Event,” “2016 Event,” “2015 Event,” “2014 Event,” and so on. If you have lots of files that are variants of each other, your folders and file structure can get cluttered pretty quickly, which makes finding the file you need more difficult.

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But for years, that’s how it worked: We created a new document or made a copy of an existing one for each new event. A new event meant a new file — even though only the date, location, and guest speaker’s information changed each year.

Today, creating a named version of a document–instead of a separate, new document–makes sense for content that remains mostly the same over time. For example, a standard presentation with a few slides that is updated periodically, employee bios, a routine checklist, a spreadsheet that gets updated monthly, or a flyer for an annual event.

Here are a few tips to help you adjust to this different way of thinking about your files. Note that version history features, as of March 2018, work in a desktop browser only. In the Google Docs, Sheets and Slides mobile apps, you’ll see only the most current version.

1. Name a version

To name a file version, select File > Version history > Name current version. Enter the name, then select Save. As always, other edits and changes will also be saved, but naming a version makes it much easier to locate later.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Name the current version of your file before you make changes. After you complete a version with changes you want to refer to later, name those file versions too.

2. Show version history

Select File > Version history > See version history to view both named versions, as well as other recent file edits. Move the slider to “Only show named versions” to hide all versions stored, but not named. Select any version to view the document. Select the three dots to the right of a named version to either rename it or remove it. Select the “Show changes” checkbox in the lower right (at the bottom of the version history panel), to display edits made in your selected version.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

While in version history view, note the slider (upper right area), the show changes checkbox (bottom right), and the print option (upper left). You can select and copy content from stored versions of a file as well.

3. Print a version

You can print prior versions of your document while in the version history view. Choose the version you want, select the print icon in the upper left of the screen then select your print options, as usual. (Be sure to uncheck the “Show changes” box if you want to print a version of your file that hides the edit indicators.)

4. Retrieve content from an earlier version

You can retrieve content from a prior version of your Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide with the help of the version history view. Go to File > Version history > see version history, then select the version with the content you need. Select the text, cells, or slide content you want to put into your current version, then use Ctrl-C to copy the content. Exit the version history view by pressing the arrow pointing left (in the upper left corner). Now, you’re back in the current version of your file: move to the point in the file where you want your content, and use Ctrl-V to paste it in. Text and spreadsheet cells insert at the cursor point. You can also paste entire slides too.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

To create a new file that lacks the current file’s version history, use the File > Make a copy menu option.

5. Create a file without version history

Sometimes you want a version of your file without the version history included. For example, you might want to share only the final version of a file with a client–one that removes all of the earlier “in process” versions.

While your file is open in your browser, choose File > “Make a copy. ” > then give your file a new name. Leave “Copy comments and suggestions” unchecked to omit those from the new document. This gives you a new file that only reflects the final version of your work.

Your experience?

The next time you need to make a few changes to an existing document, name your current version then get to work and make your changes. When you’re done, name that version too.

Do you use named versions within Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides? Has access to content in earlier named versions been useful to you? How do you use the feature? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

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If you’re collaborating with several people on a single file, it can be difficult to pinpoint who made certain changes and when. Keep track of changes in shared files by identifying changes and who made them. You can also revert to a previous version.

See all changes to a file or revert to a previous version

  1. In Google Drive, open your file.
  2. From Docs, Sheets, or Slides, select FileVersion historySee version history.

    Note: You need Owner or Editor access to the file.

  3. Click a timestamp to see a previous version of the file. Below the timestamp, you’ll see:
    • Names of people who edited the document.
    • A color next to each person’s name. The edits they made appear in that color.
  • Restore this version to make it the active version.
  • MoreName this version to name a previous version.
  • MoreMake a copy to create a copy of a previous version.

See what’s changed since you last opened a file

  1. In Google Drive, open your file.
  2. If there are new changes to a document, you can do one of the following options:
    • Next to the menu bar, click See new changes.
    • Click FileSee new changes.

See who’s viewed your file or who you’ve shared it with

  1. In Docs, Sheets, or Slides, open the file.

    Note: You will need to have edit access for the file to see the Activity dashboard data.

  2. Click ToolsActivity dashboard.
  3. You can see information about the activity on your file, including:
    • Shared with tab: Shows people you’ve shared the file with. You can also email collaborators.
    • All viewers (organization) tab: Shows people in your organization who have viewed the file.
    • Viewer trend tab: Shows a chart of viewers over time.
  • Turn off view history for all files: Under Account setting, turn off Show my view history for all Docs, SheetsandSlides files.
  • Turn off view history for one file: Under Document setting, turn off Show my view history for this document.

Note: This feature is available for G Suite Business and Enterprise users only (when administrator permissions allow).

If you are the owner or editor of a shared document, you can revert to earlier versions of a document, even if other collaborators have made changes.

It gets better: If you decide that you don’t want to stick with the earlier version (or your collaborator demands that his version is brought back to life!) you can restore it.

There are some limitations to working with revisions, particularly for non-Google formats. Here’s what Google’s help pages have to say:

However, for Drive files created with Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides, you can revert to the earliest version of a document, spreadsheet or presentation, without any penalty or risk of deletion.

How To Revert To An Old Version Of A Google Drive File

1. Open the document, spreadsheet or presentation.

2. Go to File>See Revision History.

3. The Revision History will appear on the right side of the browser screen, with a list of all of the saved revisions and the people who made them.

4. Select an earlier version to view it onscreen.

5. Click the Restore This Revision link to revert to that version.

6. To go back to the most recent version, bring up the Revision History and find the version that you want to use (it should be near the top of the list).

Ian Lamont is the author of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes. For additional tips and videos on how to get the most out of Google Drive, visit the official book website for the Google Drive guide.

This story, “How to revert to an old version of a Google Drive file” was originally published by ITworld .

Access to your edits in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and Apple Pages are just a click away.

The days of pressing the wrong key and losing a whole week’s worth of work should be long gone now. Today’s cloud-based apps keep duplicate copies of everything, saving you the hassle of manual backups. These programs also have detailed version histories, so you can quickly roll back to a different version of a file from an hour, a week, or a month ago.

Besides the instructions laid out below for the most well-known application suites out there, remember the backup options available elsewhere. If you use Dropbox , for example, file versioning is built right in: From the web interface, right-click on any file and choose Version history to see versions from the past 30 days (or 180 days if you’re on a Professional or Business plan). Multiple file edits can be undone with Dropbox Rewind .

The backup solutions built into Windows and macOS support file version histories as well. On Windows, you can find File History by opening the Settings pane and choosing Update & Security and then Backup. On macOS, you want to choose Time Machine from the System Preferences pane.

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

To roll back to an earlier point in time in a document, spreadsheet, or presentation in Google’s suite of online apps, choose File, Version history, and See version history. You’ll see major edits, together with the time they were made and the person who made them, if you’re collaborating on something. Click on one of the arrows next to a version name to get even more choices.

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To go back to an earlier version of a file, click on it (which will display the differences with the current version on screen), then select Restore this version. The current version of the file won’t be erased completely—it’ll just be added to the list as an older version, so you can get back to it if you need to.

Click the three dots next to a file version and you can duplicate it or name it. Naming versions just makes them easier to sift through—note the Only show named versions toggle switch at the top of the list—and you can also do this by selecting File, Version history, and Name current version. You can have 40 named versions of documents and presentations, and 15 named versions of spreadsheets.

Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides will keep an unlimited number of versions on file for you. If you accidentally delete a file and want to bring it back, you’ve got 30 days before it’s gone forever: Head to the Trash folder in your Google Drive account, right-click on the file you want to bring back, then choose Restore.

Microsoft Office

File versions are only available through Microsoft Office programs if you’ve chosen to save them in OneDrive—the cloud storage platform comes with versioning support that Office is able to tap into. It’s another reason to keep your files saved in the cloud with Microsoft rather than anywhere else, and as you would expect there are other integrations between OneDrive and Office that you can take advantage of, too.

You can see all the previous versions of a file in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint on Windows by choosing File, Info, and Version History. (I f your file isn’t already in OneDrive, you’ll be prompted to copy it there. ) All of the available versions appear on the right, together with the time they were edited and the user who did the editing. Click Open version under any of them to go back to an earlier version, which opens in a new window.

With the earlier edition of the file also open, you can choose Compare to see all the differences between it and the current version, or Restore to have this older version become the current one. The comparison screen is quite a comprehensive one, giving you a full view of the edits that have been made since this incarnation of the file was the one you were working on.

It’s slightly different if you’re using Office on macOS, though again you need to have the file saved in OneDrive for file versions to be available. Click the name of the document, spreadsheet, or presentation up on the title bar at the top of the program window, then choose Browse Version History. Click on any of the files listed and you get the same Compare and Restore options as you do on Windows.

Apple Pages, Numbers, and Keynote

If you’re creating files in one of Apple’s productivity applications, you need to click File, Revert To, and then Browse All Versions to see a full history for your document, spreadsheet, or presentation. Alternatively, choose Revert To and Last Saved to undo all the changes you’ve made since you last saved your file.

Versions show up in a neat full screen layout, with a timeline down the right-hand side of the screen. Use the arrows on the right (or the timeline) to go forward and backward through the versions, and Restore to go back to a particular version. If you do decide to go back to an earlier incarnation of a file, then the version you’re currently working on becomes the most recent version—you can still get it back if required.

You can actually carry on editing the current version of the document, spreadsheet or presentation in this Browse All Versions view—click Done whenever you want to go back to the normal view. This can be handy if you need to refer to something from an earlier incarnation of the file. There’s no limit to the number of versions of a file you can save, and they’ll be saved automatically as you work.

Another trick you can do from this screen is to hold down the Option key, which turns the Restore button into Restore a Copy—this means you can view a copy of that version of the file while leaving the old version untouched. Finally, note that you can copy text and other elements from the earlier file versions on the right into the current version on the left without having to restore them.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

You can easily go back in time when working on a document. View, restore, rename, and copy your Google document version history in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.

There are many times when you create a document that you work on over time. It could be a day or several months. There may also be other times when you collaborate on a document. So, you and a coworker each make edits to it.

With version history in Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides, you can keep track of all changes to your documents. You can see the history of versions, restore one if needed, give each a name for easier identification, and copy one to create a new document with it.

Open the Version History in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides

Seeing the version history for a document in any of these three Google apps takes only a few clicks.

  1. Sign in to the Google application and open the document.
  2. Click File in the menu.
  3. Go down to Version History and choose See Version History in the pop-out menu.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

The version history screen will take over and includes a sidebar on the left. That sidebar contains each version of your document.

Viewing Changes

When you select a version, the document on the left side will show that iteration with the changes highlighted. Each colored highlight corresponds to the person who made the change. This is handy for shared documents in Google’s apps.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Below the version in the sidebar, you’ll see the name of the person who made changes and their highlight color. If you see two or more names below a version in the sidebar, click the arrow to the left of the name to expand it. You’ll then see each person’s individual changes as versions of their own.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

If you don’t want to see the changes, turn off the toggle on the bottom of the sidebar for Show changes.

Restore a Previous Version

If you have a previous version of your document that you want to revert to, you can simply restore it.

Select the version in the sidebar and then at the top of the document, click Restore this version. You’ll then need to confirm the action by clicking Restore.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

That older version will then become the newest, current version of your document. It’s important to remember that when you restore an older version, any changes you made to another version since that one was saved, will not appear in your current version.

Assign Version Names

By default, each version of a document is named with the date and time. As you know, all documents you work on in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are automatically saved. So this is the date and time stamp you’ll see.

To change the name either click the date and time to highlight the text or click More actions (three dots) to the right of the name and pick Name this version. Enter the new name and hit your Return or Enter key.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

When you have names for your versions, you can choose to see only those in your version history. At the top of the sidebar enable the toggle for Only show named versions. This is a good way to see only those versions you feel are important. You’ll also see the “current version” that you’re working on even if you haven’t named it yet.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

Time-Saving Tip: You can quickly name your current version without opening version history. Click File > Version History > Name current version from the menu.

Copy a Document Version

Maybe one of the document versions spawned an idea for a document of its own. You can easily copy a single version to create a new document. In the sidebar, select the version and then follow these steps.

  1. Click More actions to the right of the name and pick Make a copy.
  2. Give the new document a name. By default, it will be “Copy of [document name] – [version name].”
  3. Choose a location to save the document.
  4. If it’s a shared document, you can check the box to share it with the same people if you like.
  5. Click OK.

How to switch to an earlier version of a google docs sheets or slides file

If you save the copy to Google Drive, the new one will pop right open in a new window for you to work with it as its own document. Alternatively, you can navigate to where you saved the copy and open it from there. And the version from which you copied it will stay in the version history as a reference.

Use Your Google Document Version History

Version history in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides isn’t just convenient for shared documents but can be useful for those you work on solo. You may make any changes that you decide are unnecessary and want to restore a previous version. Or you might want to go back and copy an old version for a new article, essay, or book chapter.

If you’re new to Google Docs and want to explore more features like this, take a look at our guide for getting started with Google Docs.