How to Restore or Copy Document Versions in Google Docs

745859 How to Restore or Copy Document Versions in Google Docs

Google Docs automatically saves a version history of documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, allowing you to restore previous versions or make copies if needed. Here’s how to access and utilize this useful feature.

Viewing Version History

To see the version history:

  1. Open the Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides file
  2. Click File > Version history > See version history
    • Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcuts:
      • Windows: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H
      • Mac: Command+Option+Shift+H
  3. A sidebar will open on the right showing the version history timeline

Each entry in the timeline represents a previous version of the document, with the top one being the current version.

Restoring a Previous Version

If you want to revert back to an older version:

  1. In the version history sidebar, click on the version you want to restore
  2. Click Restore this version at the top
  3. Confirm that you want to restore this version

Warning: Restoring an older version will overwrite the current version, causing you to lose any changes made since that version.

Copying a Version

To create a new copy of an older version:

  1. In the version history sidebar, select the version
  2. Click the More actions icon (3 dots)
  3. Select Make a copy
  4. Give the copy a name and select where to save it

The copy will now exist as a separate document that you can edit independently.

Naming Versions

Naming versions makes them easier to identify when you have a long history:

  1. In the sidebar, click the More actions icon next to a version
  2. Select Name this version
  3. Enter a name and click OK

You can add up to 40 named versions per Docs document, 15 per Sheets spreadsheet.

Comparing Versions Side-by-Side

To compare two versions:

  1. Open the current version of the document
  2. Click File > Version history > See version history
  3. In the sidebar, Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac) to select two versions
  4. Click Compare versions at the top

This will open both versions side-by-side with changes highlighted.

Downloading a Version

If you want to save a copy of a specific version outside of Google Docs:

  1. In the version history sidebar, click the More actions icon
  2. Select Download
  3. The version will be downloaded as a Word, Excel, PowerPoint or PDF file that you can save

Tips for Effective Version Control

  • Name key versions to mark important milestones
  • Restore older versions as a last resort – copy instead if possible
  • Limit editing permissions to control who can modify documents
  • Compare versions periodically to review changes
  • Download copies of critical versions as backups

Proper use of version history allows collaborating teams to track changes, fix mistakes, and preserve important document states. It gives you incredible flexibility to manage and manipulate documents over time.

Restoring Folder Structures and Non-Google Files

The Google Drive desktop and mobile apps provide additional options for reverting changes to folders, non-Google files, and accessing older versions beyond the 30-day limit in Google Docs.

To restore an older version of a folder structure:

  • In Google Drive, right-click on a folder and select Manage versions
  • Click on a date to view or restore that older folder structure

For non-Google files like Word documents:

  • Right-click the file and choose Manage versions
  • Click the More actions icon next to a version
  • Select Download to save the older version to your computer

With careful use of version history, Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides give teams the power to collaborate freely without fear of breaking documents or losing work. It provides vital protection and flexibility to manage content over time.

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