How to Access File Version History in SharePoint and OneDrive

How to Access File Version History in SharePoint and OneDrive

Do you need to restore your document to a previously saved version?

File version history is one of the most helpful features in SharePoint and in Microsoft apps in general (as it will probably save you many times in the future).

Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to access file version history in SharePoint and OneDrive that won’t take a few seconds to do.

Let’s get started.

How the file versioning in SharePoint works

By default, versioning is enabled in SharePoint libraries and lists if you’re a Microsoft 365 customer and will save the last 500 versions of a document.

Basically, SharePoint and OneDrive stores and tracks versions of your document (when enabled).

There are two types of versions:

  • Major versions (Big changes and additions i.e. adding a new section, paragraph, etc.)
  • Minor versions (Small changes like spelling and small deletions)

Note: SharePoint lists only track major versions, which makes sense since making a change means changing the included metadata on a list item.

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    Different ways to access file version history in SharePoint and OneDrive

    As I described, there are various ways to access file version history and restore documents to a previously saved version.

    Let’s start with the easiest and most intuitive method:

    1. Version History from the SharePoint Library (Easiest)

    This is simple and you might have already seen the version history option in the library.

    Navigate to the library where your document is stored.

    Then, right-click on that document (or click the show actions button) and select the “Version history” option.

    Right-click on the document and click the version history option

    A window will appear containing all the available version history for that document.

    If you want to restore to a specific version, simply click on that version and click on the “Restore” option.

    Click on the version and select the restore option

    You can also view and delete the restore using the same action.

    2. Online Office Method

    If you’re using the online web app of Microsoft apps (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.), you can also access the file version history there.

    On your opened document, click on the “File” tab first.

    Go to the file tab first on your office app

    By default, you will see the “Info” tab. But if not, make sure you’re in this tab and then click on the “Version History” button.

    On the info tab, you will find the version history option

    You will then see all the versions available on the right panel. You can click on each one to see the changes.

    To restore to a version, simply click on the “Restore” button at the top panel.

    Click on a version from the right panel and click on the restore button

    3. Offline Office Method

    You can also do the same thing on the offline desktop application.

    For example, in Excel, simply do the same steps as earlier:

    • Go to the “File” tab
    • Navigate to the “Info” tab
    • Click on the “Version History” button

    Like in its web app counterpart, you will see the versions on the right panel.

    If you want to restore a version, you must click on the “Open version” link and wait for the version to open on another instance of the app.

    Click on the open version link on the desktop app

    To proceed with restoring the version, simply click on the “Restore” button on the notification ribbon.

    Click on the restore button on the notification ribbon

    4. OneDrive Windows Explorer

    If you’re feeling a little lazy, you can also check the version history and directly restore a version from your Windows Explorer.

    However, this requires that you have synced OneDrive with your Windows Explorer. Otherwise, this will not work at all.

    On the folder, right-click on the document and find the “Version history” option.

    Right-click on the document and find the version history option

    Another window will appear where you can see all the versions of that document.

    To restore, hover your mouse over that version, click on the ellipsis icon, and select the “Restore” option (or download it if you want).

    Click the restore version on that document

    Viewing the Version History in Sharepoint and Onedrive

    Knowing how to use the version history saves you from a lot of work of redoing your document trying to go back to a previous version.

    As you know, the undo button inside Microsoft apps can only take you so far.

    In fact, if you saved the document and closed it, you will not be able to undo anything prior to opening the document the next time.

    Anyway, do you have some questions about version history? If so, kindly leave a comment below so we can talk about it.

    For inquiries and concerns, please send me a message through my contact page and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    About Ryan Clark

    As the Principal Solutions Architect at Mr. SharePoint, I help companies of all sizes better leverage Modern Workplace and Digital Process Automation investments. I am also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for Office Apps & Services.

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    4 months ago

    This is a helpful summary, Mr. SharePoint!

    Thank you for putting together the illustrated overview.

    Raymond Aitken
    Raymond Aitken
    4 months ago

    I really appreciate these short tutorials on various topics. Precise, illustrated and simplified but not dumbed down. I’m a field tech and I’m not used to the level of computer communication thats become the new normal. You are doing God’s work here helping us older guys and gals stay in the game. Thank you!

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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