How to Track Changes in Google Docs

Use the Editing and Suggestions features like an expert

What to Know

  • Open a document in Google Docs, select Share, and configure each user's permissions from here by choosing Viewer or Editor access.
  • Within a document, select Editing > Suggesting to leave comments to be reviewed without editing the document.
  • In a document, go to Tools > Review suggested edits, select individual edits, and then Accept or Reject to keep or delete them.

Google Docs is a great way to collaborate with a team on a written project. When several people are involved, make sure changes to the document are easy to identify or alter. Knowing how the Editing Mode and Suggestion Mode work allows you and your team to edit Google Docs and track changes with ease.

How to Edit Google Docs With Editing Mode

Editing Mode allows you and anyone with permission to edit the document directly. However, this means changes are made automatically and potentially become difficult to review. To avoid important data being lost or changed, the ability to lock down your entire document comes in very handy.

  1. Open a document you want to edit in Google Docs.

  2. Select Share in the upper right corner.

    The Share button in Google Docs
  3. Click the menu next to a collaborator's name.

    The collaborator menu in Google Docs
  4. To stop the collaborator from editing the document, click Viewer.

    The Viewer option in Google Docs
  5. Click Save.

How to Edit Google Docs With Suggestion Mode

When you're working with other people on the same document, it's useful to make a suggestion without altering the text itself. With Suggestion Mode, you can do this with ease and keep everyone creating the document in the loop. You can even leave color-coded comments so you and your colleagues can track the reasons for any implemented changes. If you own the document, you'll receive an email notifying you of any changes, which can be accepted or rejected.

  1. Open the Google Doc you want to modify.

  2. Select the Editing dropdown menu in the top right corner.

    The Editing option in Google Docs
  3. Select Suggesting to leave comments and allow suggestions to be reviewed

    The Suggesting option in Google Docs

How to Accept or Reject Suggested Edits

Here's how to review your suggested edits:

  1. Open the document you're working on.

  2. On the ribbon, select Tools > Review suggested edits.

    The "Review suggested edits" command in Google Docs
  3. In the upper-right corner, a box will appear showing the suggested edits.

  4. To address individual edits or comments, choose one, and then select either Accept or Reject.

    Select Accept All or Reject All to address all suggested edits at once.

How to Use Comments

Here's how to use comments in a Google Doc:

  1. Within a Google document, select the cell, text, line or block you'd like to comment on.

  2. From the ribbon, select Insert > Comment. Alternatively, select the Plus (+) on the right side of the document.

    The Insert Comment command in Google Docs

    The keyboard shortcut is Command/Ctrl+Option+M.

  3. Type your comment, then select Comment.

    The comment window in Google Docs
  4. The comment will appear to the right of the document, along with the name of the collaborator who left it and the time they created the note.

    A comment in Google Docs

Revision History

If you need to go back to an earlier version of a project, Revision history lets you do just that; any time changes were made to the document, a different version was saved.

You can view an earlier version of your document and see how any edits or suggestions were used. This can be especially useful for reviewing a project as it evolves, keeping track of a user’s individual contributions, and as a reference for your thought processes.

  1. Open your Google Doc.

  2. Under the File menu, mouse over the Version History heading and select See Version History.

    The "See Version History" command in Google Docs

    The keyboard shortcut is Command/Ctrl+Option+Shift+H.

  3. Select the version you want to review by looking over the Version history timeline.

    Version history in Google Docs
  4. To name an individual version, select the three vertical dots to the right, and then select Name this version.

    The "Name this version" command in Google Docs

Another tool to help keep track of document edits is Show Editors. In a document, select a range of text, right-click, and select Show Editors. You'll see a list of the document's editors and their most recent changes, along with a time stamp. Access Version History from these options, as well.

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