How do I restore a previous version of an Excel file in a team?

Restoring a previous version of an Excel file can be very useful when working in a team environment. It allows you to revert changes made by yourself or others, fix mistakes, and recover lost work. Excel has built-in version history that tracks changes, but accessing it requires a few simple steps.

Why Restore Previous Versions of Excel Files?

There are a few key reasons you may need to restore a previous version of an Excel file when working in a team:

  • Undo accidental changes or deletions
  • Revert to an earlier version after new changes caused problems
  • Recover unsaved work after a crash or error
  • Access old data that was changed or deleted
  • Fix introduction of errors, corruption, or formatting problems
  • Revert an entire Excel file to a milestone version

Tracking changes and versions enables going back to afunctional, stable state when needed.

How Excel File Versioning Works

Excel version history relies on restoring Excel file backups from various points in time. It does this by saving versions in the background automatically:

  • A new version is saved when closing an Excel file
  • Versions are also saved automatically every 10 minutes while a file is open
  • Versions have the date and time saved in the file name
  • Older versions are not deleted so you can access them later

Versions can be accessed using File History within Excel on Windows, and Time Machine on Mac. The steps vary between operating systems.

Restoring From File History in Windows Excel

If you are using Excel for Windows, you can access previous versions from File History:

  1. With your Excel file open, click File > Info > Version History > Restore
  2. The Restore Excel File dialog box appears. Click the version you want to restore
  3. Click Restore to revert to that version. This does not overwrite the current version.
  4. The restored version will open in a new Excel window
  5. You can compare this to your current version or overwrite the file if needed

This allows reverting Excel on Windows to an older version easily. You can access versions saved automatically or when the file was closed.

Other File History Options

In the Restore Excel File dialog box, you also have a few other options:

  • Open: Opens the version in read-only mode to view or copy data
  • Delete: Permanently deletes the stored version
  • Info: Displays information on when the version was saved

Using Time Machine to Restore Previous Excel Versions on Mac

On Mac Excel, you can leverage Time Machine to restore previous Excel file versions:

  1. Open Time Machine on your Mac
  2. Locate the Excel file you want to restore within the Time Machine interface
  3. Navigate back through earlier snapshots to the version you want
  4. Click Restore to copy that version to the currentExcel file

This replaces your current Excel for Mac file with the previous version.

Other Time Machine Restoration Methods

You can also restore Excel file versions from Time Machine using these methods:

  • Restore from Finder: Navigate to the file in Finder, enter Time Machine, browse versions, click Restore
  • Restore from Spotlight: Search for the file in Spotlight, enter Time Machine from search results, then restore

Restoring Previous Versions from SharePoint or OneDrive

If your Excel files are stored on SharePoint or OneDrive, you can also leverage file versioning to restore previous versions:

  1. Open SharePoint or OneDrive and navigate to the Excel file
  2. Click on the ellipses (…) next to the file and select Version History
  3. Browse the version history and click Restore next to the version you want

The previous version will be restored while the existing file is left intact.

Collaborating with Team Members Using Versions

When collaborating on Excel files in teams, versioning enables useful workflows:

  • Restore your own work after accidental changes
  • Revert group files after new changes cause problems
  • Track changes made by each user over time

Use file versioning to easily:

  • Revert broken or problematic work by others
  • Identify who made certain changes
  • Restore milestone versions before major changes

This provides flexibility when collaborating in teams.

Best Practices When Restoring Previous Excel Versions

Follow these best practices when restoring previous versions of Excel files:

  • Label versions: Give milestone versions descriptive names to identify them easily.
  • Store files on networks: Use SharePoint or OneDrive to enable centralized versioning.
  • Review changes: Open and check versions before overwriting current files.
  • Delete old versions: Manually delete unneeded historical versions when space is limited.
  • Test restoration: Confirm you can restore files before making major changes.

Restoring Deleted Excel Files

If an Excel file has been deleted entirely, you may still be able to restore it from backups:

  • On Windows, restore previous versions from File History backups
  • On Mac, restore from Time Machine backups
  • On OneDrive or SharePoint, restore deleted files from the Recycle Bin

Act quickly if files are accidentally deleted to increase chances of recovery.


Restoring previous versions of Excel files can be extremely beneficial for recovering data and fixing issues when working in teams. Leverage the automatic versioning in Excel on Windows and Mac, as well as SharePoint and OneDrive capabilities. Storing files centrally enables accessing versions conveniently. With proper file management procedures in place, you can easily collaborate on Excel spreadsheets and revert changes as needed.