file version header

Manage File Versions in Google Drive

A organizational benefit of Google Drive is the ability to manage file versions easily. Instead of have 10 different draft versions of a file, you can easily save and manage versions from one file. I’m sure we’ve all had the misfortune of wanting to revert back to an older version of an edit and it is one forever!

Using the Google Drive file version management helps

  • streamline file storage and organization
  • store legacy versions that may need reference in the future
  • restore or edit from various versions with ease

Drive has options for version control for both Google files (Docs, Sheets, Slides) as well as other kinds of uploaded files (PDF, images, etc). Today we’ll delve into how to do manage versions for both types of files.

Google files

Files made by Google (Doc, Sheets, Slides) save your file history forever automatically so nothing is lost. But there are some way to make this activity history a little more manageable.

You can find the file activity in 2 ways. From Drive

  1. Click the three dots More menu for the file.
  2. Choose View Details
  3. Click the Activity tab at the top of the opened window
version history gif

You can also access file history from your open file.

  • Choose File > Version History > See Version History
  • or Click the in the upper right hand corner of the file
See version history option found under the File navigation item
file version history icon screenshot

From the file version history, you can now choose to

  • Restore an older version
  • Name a version such as drafts to make them easier to find
  • Make a copy of an older version

If I deleted a paragraph after Draft #1 but now I want to add it back in for Draft #3, I can easily find that paragraph by looking back in my version history at Draft #1. No separate file needed!

Non-Google files

Files not created in Google are handled a little differently since they are edited elsewhere but there are still options to manage versions.

Uploading new file versions

First add your new file version to Google Drive.

If you are using Google Drive for Desktop to open up a file, just click Save from the program you are using to edit and the new version of the file is saved. Easy!

If not using Google Drive for Desktop to edit, just upload your new file to the same location with the same name as the old file.

A prompt will open to ask you how to handle a file that already exists. Choose Replace existing file and click Upload.

Drive upload options for a file that already exists.  To save as a new file or replace existing file.

This is a bit misleading because Drive does not immediately replace or overwrite the file. Both versions are available for 30 days. To keep versions for more than 30 days, continue on to the next section about managing file versions.

Managing new file versions

Now you have multiple file versions within Drive. But where do you find them? Drive is only showing one version.

To see all your file versions,

  1. Click the three dots More menu of the file
  2. Choose Manage Versions
gif illustration of opening the manage versions screen from drive.  Click the files More menu and choose manage versions.

All available file versions are now visible. From this screen you can

  • upload a new file version
  • download a chosen file version
  • mark a file version(s) to keep forever
  • delete file version(s)
manage version screen of google drive file with the options open to download, keep forever, or delete a file

Once a file has been marked to Keep forever, you would have to come back to this screen to delete file. The system will not automatically delete the file version.

If you have any questions or need help with using Google Drive to store file versions, please reach out to the IDAT team.

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