How To Use Versions In Office

Previous Versions
The modern Office apps come with all sorts of great features not previously available, and Versioning (alongside AutoSave) is one of those. If your files are saved in OneDrive or SharePoint it’s a great way of rolling back changes or comparing different iterations of your documents, spreadsheets or presentations.

What Is Versioning?

If you have your files saved in OneDrive or SharePoint and you have Auto Save enabled, Office saves your changes and syncs them in real time. But what if you accidentally make changes that you don’t want saving, or you need to go back and see what an earlier iteration was? Versioning can help!

How Often Are Versions Saved?

It’s hard to find conclusive documentation on exactly how often versions are saved, but its essentially whenever significant changes are made to the document.

The background processing is intelligent enough not to save every keystroke, so if you are typing, it’s not going to save a version for each new word or paragraph, but periodically new versions will be saved as you go. If you leave the document static for a bit, then add something new, a new version will be created.

How Many Versions Are Kept?

The default setting in Microsoft 365 for OneDrive and SharePoint is 500, though for a SharePoint document library this can be increased.

If you are not using Microsoft 365 and have a free account, the feature is still available, but you only get 25 versions saved for 30 days.

View Previous Versions

To access previous versions, go to File > Info and you will see the button for Version History

You’ll see a new pane on the right-hand side of your document showing the version history, with a hyperlink under each previous version to open that version.

The previous version will open in a new window, slightly greyed out, as Read Only allowing you to check the contents but not change them.

Restore A Previous Version

Once you have checked the contents, you can restore the previous version and bring it to the top of the list as the current version.

Compare Versions

A really useful feature of versioning also lets you directly compare, side by side, the previous and current version of the document.

  • In the central pane, changes are highlighted so you can easily see what was added.
  • On the right, you have a comparison view (this scrolls when you scroll the central window).
  • On the left you have the list of revisions.

Check Versions Online

You can also check and restore versions online directly from the OneDrive or SharePoint site, though with less functionality to check and compare. This is a good option if you already know what version of the document you want to restore.

If you select the check-box next to the document, you can review the activity on the right hand side clicking the ‘i’ information button.

Clicking the 3 dots next to the file gives you the option to see the version history. You can view details (though not the document changes), restore the version, or delete a version if you know it’s not needed.

Extra Information

For versioning to work, your files needs to be saved in OneDrive or SharePoint and AutoSave must be enabled. For more information on AutoSave check out our blog To Save or to Auto Save? – Macnamara ICT

If AutoSave seems to be unavailable, check your if your documents are saved in an older version of Office: How To Convert Office Documents Opening in Compatibility Mode – Macnamara ICT

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