How to restore previous version of Microsoft Word document

In some desperate situations, you would have to revert back to the previous version of the document you were working on. Let’s say you’ve been working on a word document, and you realized that the recent changes made to it should be undone. Obviously, your first attempt would be the ‘Undo’ option, and of course that might come handy to an extent as long as the document stays open. But what if, instead of saving the modified content with a brand new file name, you save over the original document and close it – yes, you would lose the original content and probably you won’t able to restore it back unless you have a backup option. So it’s always a good idea to keep a backup of the document you about to work on.

Luckily for us, actually there is a way to restore previously saved document versions. Most Mac and Windows editions of Microsoft Word comes with a handy feature, which automatically creates a backup copy of a document that you are working with. By default, this feature is disabled, but you can enable it through settings. Once you enable it, the word starts keeping one version back copy from the recently saved version of the document. You can find this backup copy right from the same directory you saved the document. Even though, this feature has been around in Microsoft Word from quite sometime, most users don’t know this feature even exists. Lets find out how to enable this feature in both Mac and Windows editions of Microsoft Word.

Steps to enable previous version feature in Windows edition of Microsoft Word

Step 1: Start the Microsoft Word.

Step 2: Go to File menu, and click on options.


Step 3: When Word Options window appears, select ‘Advanced‘ option from the left pane and, scroll down to locate ‘Save‘ settings. Then select ‘Always create backup copy‘ checkbox.

Window of Microsoft Word Options

From that moment, the word will start keeping a one version back copy of every document, providing you a chance to go back in time and correct it, if anything goes wrong. Usually, you could find this backup copy on the same directory, where you saved the original document, with the name “Backup of” followed by the original document name.

Backup copy of a Microsoft Word document.

Steps to enable previous version feature in Mac OS edition of Microsoft Word

Step 1: Start the Microsoft Word.

Step 2: Go to the Word ‘Preference’ from the top menu and, click on ‘Save’ option.

Preference Window of Microsoft Word in Mac OS X

Step 3: Now select ‘Always create backup copy‘ checkbox, which would help you restore previous version of your document.

Window of Microsoft Word Save preference in Mac OS X


Even though, Microsoft Word doesn’t offer unlimited versioning, good to have such a feature in it, isn’t it? Well, I think it’s better than nothing. Just in case, one version back copy is not good enough, but still there are a lot of options to choose from. You could make use of File History on Windows 8 or 8.1, or Time Machine utility on Mac OS X saves previous versions of word files and everything else on the system. If you are a Mac user, and you would like to edit the documents on ‘Pages’ app then you could fully take advantage of its Versions feature, which offers unlimited previous versions of document.

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