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Over the years, Google Sheets has greatly improved functionality and collaboration. Whether you're working alone or collaborating with others, at some point, you're going to wish you could revisit the past. Thanks to Google Sheets’ version history, you almost can.

The ‘undo’ shortcut (Ctrl + Z) is handy immediately after you make a mistake, but what if it’s been a while or the mistake was made by someone else? What if there was no mistake, and you just want to restore or copy an earlier version of the spreadsheet? Fortunately, Google Sheets’ version history allows you to view and interact with previous versions of your file.

In this post, you will learn about Google Sheets’ version history, including what it is and what you can use it for. You will also learn how to use it to view previous versions and keep track of changes, restore previous versions, make a separate copy of specific versions, name versions, and delete any versions you don’t need.

To learn more about the different methods available to keep track of changes in Google Sheets, check out our post on How to Track Changes in Google Sheets.

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What is Google Sheets Version History?

Google Sheets’ version history is a great way to revisit or recover past versions of your spreadsheet. Google Sheets automatically saves changes to your file and keeps a log of these changes. Provided you have at least editing permissions in this file, you can view these past versions in detail. You can also name 15 of these versions per spreadsheet to make them easier to find, restore a previous version to replace the current version, or make a separate copy of the past version.

How Long Does Google Sheets Keep Version History?

There is no set limit to how long Google Sheets keeps the head version of your spreadsheet. However, it will occasionally do some purging and merging of versions to save space. Generally speaking, you can keep up to 100 revisions, but after 30 days, Google Sheets will merge some of them. Nevertheless, the current version is never purged.

How to View the History of a Google Sheet?

To view a Google Sheets’ history, follow the steps below.

  1. 1. Open your Google Sheets file.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Open Sheets
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Open Sheets
  1. 2. Go to File > Version history > See version history.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete See Version History
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - See Version History
  1. 3. You’ll see a sidebar to the right of your spreadsheet containing all versions of your file, with the current version at the top.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Version History Sidebar
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Version History Sidebar
  1. 4. Click the arrow to the left of a version to get a detailed list of changes. Each user is assigned a different color to make their changes easier to identify.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete See Changes Per Version
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - See Changes Per Version
  1. 5. Clicking on any of these change logs will highlight the changes within the spreadsheet.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Highlight Changes
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Highlight Changes
How to Track Changes in Google Sheets
How to Track Changes in Google Sheets?

There are several ways to track changes in Google Sheets to make collaboration in your team even easier. Here'show to track changes in Google Sheets.

READ MORE

How to Restore a Google Sheets Version?

There are two ways to restore a Google Sheets version so that it replaces the current one.

  1. 1. Go to File > Version history > See version history.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete See Version History 2
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - See Version History
  1. 2. From the sidebar, select the version you want to restore.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Select Version
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Select Version
  1. 3. Click “Restore this version”.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Restore This Version
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Restore This Version
  1. 4. Alternatively, you can click the vertical ellipsis to the right of the version you want to restore to get the options. Select ‘Restore this version’.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Restore This Version 2
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Restore This Version

How to Make a Copy of a Google Sheets Version?

If you don’t want to replace the current version, you can always make a copy of past versions.

  1. 1. From the version history sidebar, select the version you want to copy.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Select Version 2
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Select Version
  1. 2. Click the vertical ellipsis to the right of your selection and choose ‘Make a copy’.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Make a Copy
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Make a Copy
  1. 3. You can choose how to name your file and where to save it. Check the box to ‘Share it with the same people’.
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Save Copy
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Save Copy
How To Share Only One Tab in Google Sheets
How To Share Only One Tab in Google Sheets

When sharing a Google Sheets spreadsheet Google usually tries to share the entire document. Here’s how to share only one tab instead.

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How to Name a Google Sheets Version?

To name the current version of your spreadsheet, go to File > Version history > Name current version.

Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Name Current Version
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Name Current Version
Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Choose Name
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Choose Name

How to Delete the Version History of a Google Sheet?

Unfortunately, you can't delete version history in google sheets. You can’t really purge these versions yourself, as there is no option to delete specific versions. However, you can get around this by making a copy. The copy won't inherit the version history, so you can start a new one.

Google Sheets Version History View Edit Delete Copy to Remove Version History
Google Sheets Version History (View, Edit, Delete) - Copy to Remove Version History

How to Monitor and Approve Changes in Google Sheets?

Layer is an add-on that equips you with the tools to increase efficiency and data quality in your processes on top of Google Sheets. Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds. See how it works.

Using Layer, you can:

  • Share & Collaborate: Automate your data collection and validation through user controls.
  • Automate & Schedule: Schedule recurring data collection and distribution tasks.
  • Integrate & Sync: Connect to your tech stack and sync all your data in one place.
  • Visualize & Report: Generate and share reports with real-time data and actionable decisions.

Limited Time Offer: Install the Layer Google Sheets Add-On today and Get Free Access to all the paid features, so you can start managing, automating, and scaling your processes on top of Google Sheets!

Conclusion

As you have seen, Google Sheets’ version history is a very useful tool. You no longer need to keep separate files with different versions or drafts, and you don’t need to restore a previous version to view its contents in detail. You can even name different versions of your spreadsheet to make it easier to revisit versions before important changes or updates.

You now know what Google Sheets’ version history is and what you can do with it. You know how to view the version history and how to view versions in detail without having to restore it or make changes to any version. You also know how to name different file versions, restore a previous version, make a separate copy, or delete specific versions.

Check out our guide to learn more about the different methods you can use to track changes in Google Sheets.

Layer Google Sheets Add On
Get Started With Layer Today!

Share parts of your Google Sheets, monitor, review and approve changes, and sync data from different sources – all within seconds.

GET STARTED FOR FREE
Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Jan 16 2023, Updated Jan 15 2023