How to Manage Revision History in Google Docs

Access and manage all the versions of your document

Google Docs version history helps you control changes made to your shared documents. This is especially important when you’re collaborating on documents with a group of people. Here’s everything you need to know to manage, edit, and, if necessary, to revert back to a previous version using the revision history in Google Docs.

You’ll only have access to the revision history of a document if you have editing permissions. If you created the document, you’re good to go, but if someone shared the document with you, be sure you have editing permissions before moving forward.

How to Access Google Docs Version History

Accessing the version history in Google Docs is easy, and there are a couple of ways to do it.

Version History is not available on the mobile version of Google Docs. You can see details about a document, such as when it was created and when it was last modified by going to the three dot menu in the upper right corner and choosing Details, but more detailed revision history can only be viewed from a computer.

  1. First, open the document for which you want to view a revision history.

    This can technically be any type of document in Google Drive including Docs, Sheets, or Slides.

  2. Select File from the menu at the top of the page.

    The location of the file menu in Google Docs.
  3. Choose Version history.

    The location of the Version History option in Google Docs.
  4. In the menu that appears, select See version history. Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H on a Windows computer, or Cmd+Option+Shift+H on a Mac computer.

    The location of the See Version History option in Google Docs.
  5. An alternative (and easier) way to do this is to choose the Last edit… link at the top of the page, where the link will say something similar to “All changes saved in drive” if you’re currently working on a document or “Last edit was 10 hours ago” if you’ve just opened the document.

    An alternative way to find version history in Google Docs.
  6. The version history will open in a right navigation pane, and if there were multiple edits made during a given version, you should be able to quickly navigate through them using the navigation arrows in the upper-right corner of the page to jump from one change to the next.

    The number of edits and navigation arrows in Google Docs versions.

Working With the Revision History in Google Docs

Once the Version history for a document is open, you should see a list of the saved versions of the document. Depending on how many people are collaborating on the document and how often changes are made, that list may be long or it may be short. And unless you've previously access the version history and made changes to it, each version will be titled with the date and time changes were made to the document.

One of the first things you’ll probably notice is that each person collaborating on a document has a small colored dot next to their name. These colors are assigned by Google, and when you click a version of the document, as long as the Show changes option at the bottom of the Version history list is selected, changes made will be highlighted in a color that corresponds to the dot next to the name of the person who made the change.

Once you select a version, a three dot menu will appear to the right of the version name. When you select that menu, you’ll find two options:

  • Name this version: Select this option to open the version name (which is displayed as a date and time by default) for editing. You can then type the name you want that version to have and press the Enter key on your keyboard to accept the new name.
  • Make a copy: This option allows you to create a new copy of your document, as it was on the date and time of the selected version. A dialog box opens that allows you to create a name for the new document and to choose a location where you would like the document to be stored. If you have shared your document, you’ll also have the option to Share it with the same people.

Restoring Your Google Doc to a Previous Version

If your reason for looking up the version history in Google Docs is to roll a document back to the state it was in before changes were made, you can do that in a few steps.

  1. From within the open document, navigate to the Version history using the instructions above.

  2. Find the version you want to revert back to.

    A selected version in Google Docs version history.
  3. Then, with that version chosen, select Restore this version at the top of the page.

    The location of the Restore this version button in Google Docs.
  4. A confirmation dialog box appears. Select Restore to convert your document back to the previous version you selected. If you change your mind, you can select Cancel.

    The Restore this version confirmation box.
  5. Your document will be restored and you’ll see confirmation of that in a brief pop-up dialog at the top of the page once the reversion is complete.

If you restore a previous version of the document and then change your mind, you can go back into your version history and restore the document again, to a later (or an earlier) version.