Version history in Google Sheets: see edit history & restore any version

Natalia Sharashova by , updated on

This tutorial will help you work with version history and cell edit history in Google Sheets.

Google Sheets has many beneficial features. Saving your spreadsheets automatically while keeping records of all changes made in the file is one of them. You can access those records, look through them and restore any version anytime.

What is a version history in Google Sheets

If you're used to making copies of your spreadsheets or duplicating tabs for the record, it's high time for you to stop cluttering your Drive :) Google Sheets saves every edit automatically now and keeps logs of every change so you could look them up & compare. It's called version history.

Version history is implemented as a special Google Sheets option and shows you all changes in one place.

It contains the dates & times of the edits and editors' names. It even assigns each editor a color so you could see what has been altered by any person in particular.

How to view edit history in Google Sheets

Note. This functionality is available to the spreadsheet owners and users with the editing permissions only.

To see the entire edit history in Google Sheets, go to File > Version history > See version history: See version history in Google Sheets.

Tip. Another way to call Google Sheets edit history is to press Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H on your keyboard.

This will open a side pane on the right of your spreadsheet with all the details: See all versions in a Google Sheets version history.

Each record on this pane is a version of the spreadsheet that differs from the version below.

Tip. Some versions will be grouped. You'll notice these groups by a small right-pointing triangle: A group of versions for your spreadsheet.

Click on the triangle to expand the group and see the entire Google Sheets version history: Expand grouped versions.

When you browse Google Sheets version history, you'll see who updated the file and when (names, dates and times).

Click on any timestamp and Google Sheets will show you the sheets with the contents related to that date and time.

You can also view each editor's changes. Tick the Show changes box at the bottom of the sidebar: Show or hide changes made by other authors.

You will instantly see who updated the cells because their fill colors will match the color of the circles next to the editors' names in the Google Sheets version history sidebar: View edits per author.

Tip. To review each edit individually and to navigate between them quickly, use the arrows next to Total edits: Jump to each edit quickly.

How to restore Google Sheets to the previous version

You can not only view edit history in Google Sheets but also restore this or that revision anytime.

Once you find the variant of the spreadsheet you'd like to bring back, hit that green Restore this version button at the top: The button to restore the spreadsheet variants.

Tip. If you change your mind about recovering any earlier version, click the arrow instead to go back to your current spreadsheet: Go back to your spreadsheet without recovering earlier copies.

Name versions in the Google Sheets version history

If you're satisfied with some variants of your spreadsheet, you can name them. Custom names will let you quickly find these versions in the edit history afterwards and prevent other versions from grouping with named ones.

In the Google Sheets menu, open File > Version history > Name current version: The option to name your current spreadsheet version.

You will get a corresponding pop-up inviting you to enter a new name: Enter a custom name for your spreadsheet variant.

Tip. You can name your versions directly from the version history. Click the icon with 3 dots next to the variant you want to rename and pick the first option, Name this version: Add a custom name to any revision via More options.

Type in a new name and press Enter on your keyboard to confirm: Rename spreadsheet variants in the edit history.

Note. You can create only 40 named versions per spreadsheet.

To find this variant among others in the edit history quickly, switch the view from All versions to Named versions at the top of version history: See all or only named revisions.

Google Sheets version history will then feature only variants with custom names: See only named revisions in the Google Sheets edit history.

Tip. You can change or remove the name completely later using the same More actions icon: Rename or Remove name options under the More actions icon.

How to make copies of earlier file variants (or delete version history from Google spreadsheets)

You may wonder why I mention such different actions – copy and delete – in a title for one section.

You see, many of you ask how to delete version history in your Google Sheets. But the thing is, there is no such option. If you're the owner of a spreadsheet or have the right to edit it, you'll be able to view edit history in Google Sheets and restore earlier revisions.

However, there's one option that resets the entire edit history – copy the version: Make a copy of the required file variant.

Go for it, and you'll get a suggested name and a place on your Drive for that copy. You can change both, of course, and even share this copy with the same editors who have access to the current spreadsheet: Edit the name of the copy, choose its location, and decide whether you want to share it.

Hit Make a copy and that version will appear in your Drive as an individual spreadsheet with a blank edit history. If you ask me, it's a pretty solid alternative to deleting version history in Google Sheets ;)

See cell edit history

One more way to view the changes is to check each cell individually.

Right-click a cell of interest and choose Show edit history: Show cell edit history.

You will instantly get the most recent edit: who changed this cell, when, & what value was there before: Review cell changes.

Use those arrows at the upper right corner to review other changes. Google Sheets even says if the value was restored from one of the earlier versions: Check if the edit is restored.

Note. There are some edits Google Sheets doesn't track and, hence, you won't be able to check them:

  • Changes in the format
  • Changes made by formulas
  • Added or deleted rows and columns

This is all you need to know at the moment to track changes in data in your Google Sheets and manage & restore any variant of your file at any time.

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