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What Is Version History and How to Use It in Google Docs?

Google Docs' revision history lets you see every change you make

By Justin Pot · March 21, 2019
google-docs-revision-history primary img

Editing happens one revision at a time, but what if you feel like a previous version was better in some way? With Google Docs' version history you can review previous versions of any document. This lets you grab that one paragraph you regret deleting or even restore your document entirely to a previous version. This feature is enabled by default, meaning you don’t need to turn anything on.

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People who use Microsoft Office know this feature as "revision history." Google Docs's feature is similar, but with a different name: "version history."

To get started, open your document, spreadsheet, or presentation, then click File > Version history > See version history. This will open a panel to the right of your document.

Version history

That panel lists various versions of your document, along with the names of people who made edits in that version and when those changes were made.

Version changes panel

You can click any version in the timeline to instantly see it. Changes between this version and the previous one are highlighted, as shown above. You can disable this highlighting by unchecking Show changes at the bottom of the right panel, allowing you to see a version of the document without any visual clutter.

Show changes button

You can optionally name any version of a document by hovering over it, clicking the three vertical dots to the right, then clicking Name this version.

Name this version

This isn't necessary but can be a handy way to keep track of changes. You can also create a copy, which will make a brand new document in Google Docs based on whatever iteration of the current document you specify.

Do you find you prefer a previous version of your document to what you have now? You can restore that version, if you want, by clicking the big blue Restore this version button above the document.

Restore this version button

Want to learn more Google Docs hints like this? Learn how to collaborate in Google Docs. Also, be sure to check out our Google Docs overview for more tips and ways to integrate Google Docs with thousands of apps.

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