Google’s office suite applications – Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides – have a useful feature called Version History that allows you to view previous versions of a file and restore or copy an earlier version if needed.
What is Version History
The Version History feature records every change made to a Docs, Sheets, or Slides file. It allows you to:
- View a list of all previous versions of a file
- See who made changes and when
- Compare changes between any two versions
- Restore a file to an earlier version
- Make a copy of an older version to edit separately
So if you make changes that you later want to undo, or if you accidentally delete something important, you can restore an earlier version that still has the content you want.
How to Access Version History
There are a few ways to access the version history for a file:
Method 1: Keyboard Shortcut
Use the keyboard shortcuts:
- Ctrl + Alt + Shift + H (Windows)
- ⌘ + Option + Shift + H (Mac)
This will open the version history panel on the right side.
Method 2: Menu Option
- Click File > Version history > See version history in the menu bar
- The version history panel will open on the right side
Method 3: Save Notice
Click on the Last edited link next to the file name on the top left. This will show basic details about the last edit.
How to View, Restore, and Copy Previous Versions
Once the version history panel is open, you’ll see a list of every saved version, with timestamp and editor details.
To view a previous version:
- Click on the version timestamp in the panel
- The version will preview on the left side
- Click the back arrow
<to exit preview
To restore an earlier version:
- Click the Restore this version button at the top
- Confirm by clicking Restore
To copy an earlier version:
- Click the 3-dot menu next to the version
- Select Make a copy
- Give the copy a name and click OK
Tips for Using Version History Effectively
Here are some tips to use version history efficiently:
- Name key versions – Name important versions to easily find them later
- Compare versions – Open and compare two versions side-by-side
- See grouped changes – Expand grouped timestamps to see individual changes
- Show named only – Filter history to only show named versions
- Check cell history – Right-click cells in Sheets to see edit history
- Use judiciously – Don’t rely on it as a backup; storage space is limited
Version history is an invaluable feature in Google’s office apps. It gives you confidence that you can easily revert back to or review previous versions of your documents. Follow the tips outlined here to fully utilize version history and enhance your Docs, Sheets, and Slides workflow.