Enable and configure versioning for a list or library

When versioning is enabled in site lists, you can track and manage information as it evolves. You can look at earlier versions and recover them, if necessary. That is very handy, for example, when people realize that earlier versions of an item might be more accurate than later ones. Some organizations retain multiple versions of items in their lists for legal reasons or audit purposes.

When you enable and configure versioning, you can retain versions each time an item it is edited. You need to decide how many versions you allow, and whether you want all site users to see all draft versions, or only be visible only to the originator and specific people in your organization.

By default, versioning is turned off. To turn it on and implement your versioning decisions, you must either have Full Control or Design permissions.

You might also want to track both major and minor versions of a file. A major version can signal that a document is ready for review by a wide audience, whereas the minor (draft) version is a work-in-progress and not yet ready for wide circulation.

Note:  Major and minor versions are only available for libraries, not for lists.

The Versioning Settings dialog contains three sections for lists and four sections for libraries. Each section requires decisions when you set up a list or library. Of course, if you have the necessary permissions, you can change the settings at a later date.

  • Content Approval   . Use this section to decide whether or not to require content approval for items submitted to the list.

  • Item (or Document) Version History   . Use this section to select the various versioning options that are available to you. The following table lists each option and the impact of choosing it.

Note:  The Versioning Settings dialog box options differs slightly depending on whether you are working with lists or libraries. The table below reflects options available for both lists and library versioning settings.



Create a version each time you edit an item in this list/document library?

No is the default setting. For lists, If you select Yes, a new version of the item is created each time the item is edited.

For libraries only, you can select Create major versions or Create major and minor (draft) versions.

Keep the following number of versions

If the check box for this optional setting is selected, the number below it indicates how many versions of the item are retained in the list. If, for example, that number is 25, the oldest version is deleted when the 26th version is created. Then, only versions 2-26 are available.

Keep drafts for the following number of major/approved versions

This option applies only when Yes is selected in the Content Approval section and in the Item/Document Version History section of the Versioning Settings dialog. If that is the case, you can determine the number of drafts that you want to keep for each major or approved version. Unless you have a legal or otherwise special requirement, you probably don’t need to retain all drafts for each version. You might, for example, opt to retain drafts for only the most recent five versions.

  • Draft Item Security section   . Use this section to determine who should see drafts of items that are not yet approved.

    Important:  The set of options in this section are only available when the Content Approval section is set to Yes.

    You can allow any user who has Read permissions to the list to view the drafts, or you can restrict the view to only those users who can edit items or to only the author of the item and the people who can approve items.

  • Require Check Out (for library versioning only)   . Select this option if you want to protect documents in this library from being modified by multiple users at the same time. Users will have to check out documents before editing them, and then check them back in when done.

Note:  If the library will be storing Microsoft Project (.mpp) files that are synchronized with task lists on your site, clear this check box.

Take the following steps to enable and configure versioning.

  1. Go to the library or list for which you want to enable versioning.

    • For a library, click Settings Settings: update your profile, install software and connect it to the cloud , Library Settings.

      If you don't see these menu items, click Library on the ribbon, and then click

      Library settings in the Settings group.

    • For a list, click List on the ribbon, and then click List Settings.

  2. Click Versioning Settings.

  3. In the Item Version History or the Document Version History section, select if you want to create a major version or a major and minor version.


  4. Select the number of versions you want to retain in the list.

  5. Select the number of approved versions for which you want to retain drafts. This option is available when you select Yes in the Content Approval section.

  6. If you want users to check out documents before they can make any changes to the library, then in the Require checkout section, click Yes.

    Note:  The Require checkout section appears only for a library.

  7. Click OK.

To view previous versions of an item, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the list or library with the item or document for which you want to view history.

  2. Click the ellipses (...) next to the item for which you want to view history.

  3. Click Version History.

  4. In the Version History dialog box, you'll see the versions of the document, In the dialog box you can do the following:

    • Click Delete all versions to remove the document completely.

    • Click Delete draft versions to remove any minor or draft versions.

    • Click the headings, such as Modified or No to sort the list differently.

  5. When you're done, click the X in the upper right corner.

To restore an earlier version of a document, follow these steps.

  1. Follow the previous steps to view the history of an item.

  2. In the Version History dialog box, hover your mouse over the date link on an earlier version and click the down arrow to show the menu.

    Version dropdown dialog button
  3. In the menu, you can do the following.

    Version item menu
    • View the current document. This will bring up a dialog where you can edited, restore, or delete, as well as see the current approval status.

    • Restore the document. This option displays a dialog asking if you want to make it the currently approved document. It will add it as a new version.

    • Delete the document. This option displays a dialog asking if you're sure you want to send the item to the Recycle Bin.

    • Reject this version. This only shows up on approved documents, rather than Delete.

  4. When you're done, click the X in the upper right corner.

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