Work Culture

Tip of the week: The quick trick that lets you glance at an older file version


Published on January 23, 2015

Change is inevitable, and sometimes changing things back is unavoidable, too. You know the drill: You’re putting together a presentation, and on draft #7 someone says, We should bring back that section we got rid of last week! Frustrating? Yes. Annoying? Yes. But fear not. With a little version history wizardry, Dropbox can help. Version history, if you haven’t used it yet, lets you turn back the clock and replace a file with an older version. But what you may not know is that you can use it to take a glance at any of your previous versions without changing your current one. Just right-click any file in your Dropbox and select View Previous Versions… (on your desktop) or Previous versions (if you’re on the Dropbox website). You’ll be taken to the file’s version history page, which has a list of snapshots taken each time it was saved. Here’s where the magic happens: Each version name is actually a link you can click on to view the file as it stood at that point. The version in your Dropbox stays intact, so you won’t have to worry about overwriting your current draft and you’ll be able to retrieve what you need from the old one. Best of all, this trick works with any file type — Word docs, JPEGs, PDFs, anything. If your browser can’t display the file, it’ll be saved to your computer for you to open in the app that created it. From there, you can open it side by side with your current version — so bringing back that long-lost section is a mere copy and paste away.