How to track changes in Google Docs

Google Docs is part of Google’s cloud-based productivity toolkit. It makes it easy to collaborate on documents and share them with others. We show you how to track changes in Docs so you can see the changes in the latest version.

Differences with Word’s tracking changes

In Microsoft Word, document collaboration happens one after another. One person turns on “Track Changes”, works on the document, completes editing, and sends the document to the next person for review. He or she can review tracked changes and make edits, thus creating multiple versions of the same document.

In Google Docs, there are not multiple versions of a document, just a single copy in the cloud, which can be edited by multiple users simultaneously.

If you want to know other differences, check out Google Docs vs Microsoft Word – What’s the difference?

Remember to share your documents

If you want to track changes in Google Docs so others can review them, you need to share the document with that person.

To share documents with others:

  1. Choose Repost at the top right of Google Docs.
  1. Type email address of the subordinates Add people and groups.
  1. When you’re done adding a list of people, select their role in the right drop-down menu.
  1. Check or uncheck the box that tells them you’ve shared the document.
  1. Write an explanatory note if needed.
  1. Option To send.

Check document revision history

Google Docs saves a document’s history from the moment it was created. So even if you forget or don’t know how to track changes in your Google Docs, you can always look them up using the document’s revision history:

  1. Open yours Google Docs.
  2. Choose File > Version History > View Version History.
  1. In the right-hand pane, you’ll see the time, date, and author of any revisions for that document. You can click on any of these and see the changes made by each editor.
  1. By clicking the three vertical dots on any auto-generated version, you can choose to name a specific version or create a copy as a new, separate Google Doc.
  1. You can also restore a document to any previous version if someone makes destructive edits to the text.

Use suggested mode

Suggestion mode is the closest feature to tracking changes you’ll find in Google Docs. This is most useful when you are invited to edit a document written by someone else.

When you use Recommended mode:

  • You will see edits made in a different color.
  • You’ll also see those changes summarized as comments on the right side of the Document.
  • You and other editors can exchange chat messages over individual changes in those comment bubbles.
  • Once you’ve agreed to a change, simply select the check mark to accept, or select the X to decline.

Here is an example of what it looks like:

Enabling Recommended mode is easy:

  1. Select the drop-down menu with pencil icon.
  1. Choose Suggestions or click this green hint shortcut button when you hover over a page.

Now you are ready to make any changes to the document you want without having to change the text permanently.

Leave a comment for other users

In addition to auto-suggestions, you can also leave comments so other editors and writers give more context to your recommendations.

Leave a comment:

  1. Open Google Docs.
  1. Highlight the text you want to comment on, or place the pointer where you want to leave a comment.
  1. Option Insert > Comments or use the blue “+” shortcut that pops up on the right side of the page when you hover over it.
  1. Enter your comment and then select Comment button.

Remember that you can tag other editors with the @ symbol. You can also use live chat function if other writers happen to be online at the same time as you.

Download your document as a Word file

You can convert suggestions into tracked changes by downloading your Google Docs as a Word document. When opened in Word, suggestions show up as tracked changes, with all comments preserved. Here’s how to do it:

Option File > Download > Microsoft Word.

Note: Downloaded documents are now independent of Google Docs in the cloud. No changes made in that document will reflect in the cloud version. If you want to share edits of a Word document, you’ll have to upload it as a new Google Doc and share it from scratch.

We recommend against editing in Word and Documents in this way as it can be time consuming, cause formatting issues, and lead to confusion. A good alternative is to use Microsoft 365includes the same cloud-based collaboration and features.

Never lose track again

You can now track and share changes in Google Docs. Just remember to share this article with any other editors working on the document with you, as they all have to independently enable suggestion mode.

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