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Returning to a previous version of a document

From: Word 2010 New Features

Video: Returning to a previous version of a document

As you're editing a document, Word automatically saves versions of the document at an interval you specify. By default, every 10 minutes Word checks to see if anything has changed, and if it has, it creates a version to capture those changes. In Word 2010, you can review those prior versions, compare them to the current version, and return to a prior version, if you need to do so. We've been editing this file for a couple of hours. I haven't saved my changes, and I know that that's not a good practice. Word has been assiduously autosaving this previously saved document every 10 minutes.

Returning to a previous version of a document

As you're editing a document, Word automatically saves versions of the document at an interval you specify. By default, every 10 minutes Word checks to see if anything has changed, and if it has, it creates a version to capture those changes. In Word 2010, you can review those prior versions, compare them to the current version, and return to a prior version, if you need to do so. We've been editing this file for a couple of hours. I haven't saved my changes, and I know that that's not a good practice. Word has been assiduously autosaving this previously saved document every 10 minutes.

The settings that control autosave are available Backstage. So, let's go to File and choose Options and in the Save category, you'll see two settings that you care about. One is the instruction to let Word know that it should autosave, and how frequently it should do it. The second setting says to keep the very last autosaved version, if I close this file somehow without saving, which allows me to recover many unsaved documents, as you'll see later in this chapter.

The autosave versions of your documents are listed under Info. Here is an autosave version from 2:23 today, 3:33 and 3:55. Click any version on the list to open it in a new window. If I wanted a version that was most recent, but now what's on my screen now, I could try this one. If I wanted a version from right after the last time I saved probably, I could choose one that was much earlier; perhaps I'd like one somewhere in the middle. Noticed that when it opens, it tells me that it's an autosave version, and then a new version is available.

This is to make sure that I don't accidentally edit this document thinking that it's the current document. I have a couple of choices of what I can do here. I can compare this version to the current version of the document. When I choose Compare, Word lays out a side-by-side comparison. Here's the original document; here the compared document or the earlier version, and there were five changes that were made during that time, two insertions, three deletions, no moves or formatting, and notice that they are summarized here.

Here's an insertion. I can go see that in place simply by clicking on it. Here's where something was deleted, and I can move from one of these choices to the other in order to review them. I can actually choose one of these two documents here, but it's easier, once I've done this comparison, to simply close the comparison. It's a brand-new window, and it asks me, do I want to save the changes made to 'Compare Results 4?' Don't save them. I'm back now and notice where I am. I'm in my autosave version.

The other choice I can make is I could say, based on that comparison, this is the version I want to return to, and if I do, I can click Restore. If I restore this autosave version, this is going to overwrite my current document, which will discard any changes I've made since 3:33 earlier today. Another choice is actually to save this version and to give it a totally different name, which would allow me to keep both my current version with the changes that I've made and this version of the document, which I don't particularly want to loose.

Two good choices here: One is to restore back to this version or the other is to save this version separately because there are features in it that I want to keep. It's often a difficult decision to decide, do I want to go back to something that's two hours old because it had some good features that I've managed to get rid of? But you loose so much work that I've done since that time, so saving gives you that interim option. You can always use Compare directly from the Review menu, in order to compare then the document you saved with another document.

As you're closing these various versions, make sure to pay attention to what you're been asked, so you don't accidentally close a document that you don't intend to close. But it's asking me, do I want to save this autosave version, and if I say don't save, it's still here. I haven't lost anything. With autosave enabled, versions provide a safety net that allow me to review, or even restore prior versions of the document while I'm working on a long editing session. This is another cool Word 2010 feature.

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Word 2010 New Features

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Gini Courter
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