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Guide to Autosave & Version History: restoring previously saved file versions

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There was a time when losing your work was a reality if you forgot to press save. However, today, using cloud-based Office 365 and OneDrive, 'AutoSave' prevents you from losing work.

AutoSave has another helpful function, 'Version History'. Version history takes you back to a previously saved version in Word, Excel or even an image file.

Watch this handy step by step video explaining:

  • What is AutoSave and how does it work?
  • How to revert to a previously saved version in Word, using Version History
  • How to restore a previously saved image, using Version History
HubSpot Video



What is AutoSave and how does it work?

If you are subscribed to Office 365, then your Word or Excel files will save using 'AutoSave' by default. This means that when you make changes to your document, it saves automatically - constantly saving to OneDrive in the cloud. Gone are the days of working on a file for an hour, forgetting to save, and losing that work if something goes wrong.

As long as AutoSave is switched on, you don't need to press save. It means that you can make changes, close the document and those changes will have been automatically saved. You can see if AutoSave is switched on by looking at the top left hand-side of your file.

How autosave works in word

You can see that your document is constantly saving. While you type, it displays 'saving' at the top centre of the file, indicating that the file is saving as the changes are being made.

Automatically saving using AutoSave in word



reverting back to a previously saved version in Word, using Version History

It is possible to see previously saved document versions for most file types while using Office 365. This is helpful if you accidentally delete sections of work, want to revert back to a previous version or see the history of a document for auditing purposes. First, here's how to access version history:

How to access Version History on PCs

  1. Open the Word or Excel file
  2. Click 'File'
  3. Select 'Info'
  4. Click on 'Version History'

Version history on PC


How to access Version History on Mac

  1. Open the Word or Excel file
  2. Click 'File'
  3. Click 'Browse Version History'

Browse version history on Mac


Next, you will see the version history panel open on the right-hand side of the document. All of the previous versions of the document will be listed.

By clicking 'Open Version', you can restore a previous version of the document. It also details who made the change, as well as the date and time. If you are curious to know who had made changes to a document, this feature is useful for auditing:

Open version - version history

Version History to restore a previously saved image

Version History also works for non-Word and Excel documents, such as images.

How to access image Version History

  1. Right-click on the file as it sits on your desktop.
  2. Click 'Version History'.

Accessing version history for image files

This opens a box with the history of the file. Just like in the Word file, you can revert back to any of the previously saved versions. Click on the three dots [...] next to the version you wish to restore and then click 'restore'.

Restoring an image is not instantaneous, but after around 30 seconds the file will restore.

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