4 Ways to View Version History in Google Sheets

This post is going to show you all the ways you can view the edit history to help you track changes in Google Sheets.

Google Sheets is an amazing tool for building complex solutions as it allows for real-time collaborations with multiple users. But with collaborations comes a greater need for version control to view and track any changes.

One of the best features of Google Sheets is the ability to view the edit history of any workbook.

This allows you to see all the changes that have been made to your spreadsheet, when the change was made, who made it, and you can revert back to an earlier version if necessary.

In this post, you’ll see how to use the View Edit History feature in Google Sheets, and how you can use it to restore a previous version of your document if needed. Get your copy of the example workbook and follow along.

View Version History from the File Menu

We will use this sample data to illustrate how Version History works.

First, you will need to know how you can access the edit history feature.

Follow these steps to access the edit history in your Google Sheets workbook.

  1. Go to the File menu.
  2. Select Verion history from the options.
  3. Select See version history from the submenu options.

This will open up the Version history dialogue box on the right-hand side of the workbook. The following details the information contained in the Version history dialogue box.

  1. Version history dialogue box title.
  2. The Date and time of the currently selected version.
  3. Count of Edits shows the number of times the spreadsheet has been edited. The number of edits displayed here shows a holistic count of the edited columns within a given period.
  4. Previous and Next edit toggles is useful for when the edit count is more than one. You can use these to navigate through each version of your workbook.
  5. Only show named version allows you to view only the renamed versions of your workbook.
    • The Version history feature allows you to rename previous versions of your spreadsheet so you can easily track key versions before you make major changes.
  6. Edit Versions is where you will find the list of all edits made to your spreadsheet. They are all listed in chronological order and will appear grouped together based on time periods like TODAY, or YESTERDAY.
  7. Changes this is where you get to see the location of all the changes that had been made in your spreadsheet file. This can be turned on with the Show changes option.
  8. Show Changes allows you to control the display of the changes in the Changes window. You’ll be able to see exactly where changes have been made in your spreadsheet, so it’s best to keep this option checked.

Click on the dropdown arrow to see all the individual edits in these groups.

The dropdown arrow will show you all the edits and when you select one, it will highlight the affected cells in the workbook.

How to Restore a Previous Version

With each edit, you can see what time the edit was made and by who. Because this currently selected version is the current version, the Restore version isn’t available.

When you select a previous version, the Restore this version option becomes available.

When you click on Restore this version, this dialogue box shows up, telling you what will happen if you restore this version. If you want to restore this version, click on the Restore button. This will make this selected version your current version.

After you restore a previously edited version of your spreadsheet, it takes you out of the Version history window and into the normal spreadsheet window, where you see the previous version of your spreadsheet.

If you go back to the Version history window, you will be notified that the current version you’re working on was a previous version of the spreadsheet. It shows you the specific date and time the version was created.

There are a few more options you can explore here.

How to Rename a Version

Asides from restoring a previous version, you can use the Name this version option to give a preferred name to specific edited versions. This can help you tag a key version before a major change.

You can also double click on the date and time of the edited version to change the default name of a version.

How to Make a Copy of a Version

The Make a copy option allows you to make a copy of that version.

The created copy is stored in a folder in your Google Drive storage. You can rename the file under the Name box.

If you’re collaborating with others, check the Share it with the same people option to share a copy of the file with them.

Periodically creating a copy of the latest version can be a great idea in case you accidentally delete your Google Sheets file.

View Version History from Keyboard Shortcut

There is a keyboard shortcut you can use to access the Version history window.

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + H

Use this keyboard combination and it will take you straight to the Version history window.

View Version History from Last Edit Link

If you use Google spreadsheets frequently, you will be familiar with the Last edit link feature.

It updates every time you make any change in your spreadsheet.

Have you ever tried to click on it? Probably not!

Click on the Last edit link and it will open the Version history window. This is perhaps the easiest way to access version history in Google Sheets.

Name Current Version from View History

If all you want to do is name the current version of your spreadsheet file, then you don’t need to open the Version history window.

You can easily rename the current version of your spreadsheet from the File menu.

Follow these steps to rename the current version of your spreadsheet.

  1. Go to the File menu.
  2. Select Version history from the menu.
  3. Select Name current version from the submenu options.

The Name current version dialogue box will open up after. When you give it a preferred name, click on Save to accept the change.

Now you will be able to see this name in the Version history window when you enable the Only show named versions option.

Here you can see the version named Sample Version. You can use this to confirm that you’ve created a name for the current version of your spreadsheet.

Right Click to Show Edit History

The right-click option for viewing edit history grants you easy access to see the changes that have occurred in a given cell.

It’s a very easy way to see the history of a specific cell in the sheet.

Just select the cell whose edit history you want to see and right-click on it.

Select Show edit history from the right-click menu option.

When you select the Show edit history option, the Edit history window pops up.

You can use the directional arrows to see each change that has been made in the cell, who made what changes, and what time the changes occurred.

The only thing you can’t do with the right-click option is to restore a previous version.

If you only need to see what changes were made, the right-click option is the way to go.

Conclusions

Edit history is beneficial for tracking changes when working on complex solutions with multiple users.

There are great features available with the edit history feature.

When you’re collaborating with others on a project in Google Sheets, the Version history feature makes it effortless to track changes from each user.

The most valuable feature with the edit history of your spreadsheet is the ability to restore an older version of your workbook. Though it will be seldom used, it can be life-saving when you do need it!

Have you been using the edit history feature in Google Sheets? Do you have any version history tips we missed? Let me know in the comments below!

About the Author

Oluwaseun Olatoye

Oluwaseun Olatoye

Oluwaseun is a business intelligence analyst with expertise in Google Sheets and SQL programming language. He has worked with various businesses to make data-driven decisions. He enjoys helping others learn and grow.

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