November 29, 2020
How to Track Changes in Google Docs + Other Useful Tips

How to Track Changes in Google Docs + Other Useful Tips

One of the most useful features that make content collaboration a lot easier in Google Docs is the Track Changes feature. Initially, it was an add-on that had a few issues but has been improved since July 2014.

Track Changes in Google Docs now goes by the name Suggest Edits. Instead of installing an add-on, as it is applicable in the old Track Changes, the Suggest Edits is a built-in feature that comes with Google Docs, making it readily available.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got a handle on how to use this hassle-free feature. This article will show you exactly how to do that.

How to Track Changes in Google Docs Using the “Suggest Edits” Feature

First, you need to switch the document’s mode to use the Suggest Edits feature. The document’s mode is represented by a pencil icon located beneath the Comments and Share buttons at the top right corner.

track changes in google docs using suggest edits

Click the button to bring up a pull-down menu that includes:

  • Editing mode: this allows you to edit your document directly without tracking any changes
  • Suggesting mode: edits made in this mode are tracked, and users with edit permissions can view, accept, or reject the changes
  • Viewing mode: this lets you see how the document will look when printed or in its final state

To suggest an edit or to Track Changes in Google Docs, select the Suggesting mode, and then add text, delete words, change fonts, add links, or make any changes. All changes are highlighted and sorted in a revision box according to the time and date when the changes were made.

Use the Reply button on the revision box to add questions or explanatory notes to the changes if you want.

How to View Changes to Google Docs File

First things first, you need to have edit permissions to a file before you can view its Version History section.

Follow these steps to see recent changes to a Google Docs file.

Tip: You can use the same process to view changes to Google Slides and Google Sheet files.

Start by opening a file in Google Docs.

view changes to google docs file

Next, select File > Version History > See Version History (alternatively, you can use the shortcut keys, Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H).

see version history in google docs

Changes to the file are sorted into time periods on the Version History pane to make it easier to choose between different edits. The most recent edit is shown as the “current version.” Click on any of the versions listed on the Version History pane to expand the file.

version history pane in google docs

Once the selected version is opened, you can view all the changes made to the file. This includes every edit, such as adding or deleting characters, inserting images and links, adding punctuations, and all other changes.

When you click on a particular change in the document, it is highlighted and displays the editor or user’s name who made the change. Use the V-shaped icons (called the chevron icons) to jump through multiple edits.

version history chevron icons in google docs

Click on the back arrow at the top left corner to return to the current version and continue working.

version history current version showing

Note that clicking on the current version from the Version History pane will only show you the current edits, but editing is disabled unless you click on the back arrow.

Tip: You can restore the original version by clicking on “Restore this Version” at the top of the window. However, doing this does not delete other versions of the document. So, you can always choose any version you prefer.

restore this version in google docs

How to Accept or Reject Changes

When you or any collaborator turns on Track Changes in Google Docs, you can either accept or reject the edits. To do so:

  1. Click on the pencil icon and select the Suggesting mode
  2. Make changes to the document (if there are none)
  3. From the Version History pane, click on the box containing the revision you want to accept or reject
    • Click the checkmark to approve or accept the change
    • Click the X to reject the change
accept or reject changes in google docs

You can accept or reject multiple changes at once instead of scrolling through the entire document. To do that:

  1. Select Tools > Review Suggested Edits
    • Click the Accept button to accept all the changes
    • Click the Reject button to reject all the changes
accept or reject buttons

Tip: You can preview how the document will look like if you accept or reject all the changes at once by using the Preview “Accept all” or Preview “Reject all” options. Simply click the pull-down button under the Suggested edits box to see the options. Previewing doesn’t alter the document.

suggested edits box in google docs

Note: If you are not the author of the document, accepting or rejecting changes removes the edit from your revision history. However, the document’s original owner still has the edits unless they accept or reject suggested edits.

Benefits of Using Track Changes in Google Docs

Here’s a quick rundown of what you get by using track changes in Google Docs:

  • The most obvious benefit of the Track Changes or Suggested Edits feature is the ease it offers content collaborators. It eliminates the need to pass documents back and forth by email.
  • Track Changes in Google Docs gives you the option to add explanatory comments or questions about edits. While you can make comments in Microsoft Word, the revision box in Suggest Edits goes beyond mere commenting to a potential dialogue or discussions with other users.
  • You can update permission levels for different users. For example, when you invite users to collaborate on a file, you can choose what they can do with the document using the “Can edit” menu. Select the “Can view” permission to let the user read the document only without making any changes. Enable the “Can comment” option if you want a user to suggest edits but not reject or approve them. If you set the permission to “Can edit,” the user will be able to suggest edits and make changes to the document.
  • With Track Changes in Google Docs, you can now convert Word documents to Google Docs without losing any tracked changes. The feature will automatically convert all tracked changes to suggested edits.