I can’t tell you how many times I have seen document files with the following kind of name: BudgetV5BA.xls. What’s typically going on here is that a document, in this case a budget spreadsheet, is being saved as a new file every time a change is made, and the person doing so is adding a version number, and perhaps the initials of the person who made the change to the file name. Clearly, the goal is to be able to retrieve older versions of the document. It’s like using the file system to set up a rudimentary version control system.
In Google docs you never have to do any of this. Each document persists all the revisions ever made, and it is a simple matter to restore an older version of the document. In the following example, let’s say you shared the document with Brick Andrews, and upon reviewing the changes he made, you decide you don’t like them. You’d like to revert to the version of the document before Brick made his changes. Here’s how:
- In the File menu, select See revision history:
- You will see the revision history view of the document. You can click a time stamp in the Revision history sidebar on the right to see what changes were made at a given time (bonus tip: use the arrow keys to scan through the revision history quickly). If the option to Show Changes is not selected only a single revision is highlighted and selected:
- By electing the Show Changes option, the current revision is highlighted, and the previous version it is comparing itself to is also selected shown as a dark bar on the left of the Revision history sidebar (if you’ve been sharing this document, the changes each collaborator has made are color coded. In this case Brick’s changes are in pink):
- To restore a previous version, select it in the Revision history sidebar and select the option to Restore this revision:
Restoring your document to an earlier version like this does not eliminate what were the “newer” versions of your document. The restored version simply moves to the top of the revision history, maintaining all previous versions of the document, including the current version.
- To return to editing the document, select the X in the top right corner of the Revision history sidebar.