How to Track Changes in Google Docs: A Complete Guide

Track Changes in Google Docs
Track Changes in Google Docs

Collaborating on documents is easier than ever with Google Docs. Multiple people can work on the same document at once, adding, editing, and formatting content. But with great power comes great responsibility. When multiple collaborators are editing a document, how do you keep track of who made what changes?

That’s where the Google Doc track changes feature comes in. The track changes feature allows you to see a revision history of the document so you can review what was added, deleted, or altered. It’s crucial for maintaining accountability and transparency when co-authoring a document.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Google Docs track changes, from how to turn it on to accepting/rejecting changes. Let’s get started!

Also Read: How to Enable Grammarly in Google Docs

What is Track Changes in Google Docs?

The track changes feature in Google Docs shows edits and suggestions made by collaborators in a document. When track changes are turned on, any additions, deletions, or formatting changes will be marked within the document.

Track changes allow you to:

Essentially, it adds transparency to the editing process. Everyone can see what changes were made and by whom. It facilitates open communication and ensures no suggestions get lost in the shuffle.

How to Enable Track Changes in Google Docs

Enabling track changes in Google Docs is simple:

  1. Open the Google Docs document you want to track changes on.
  2. Click the “Editing” pencil icon in the top right corner.
  3. Select “Suggesting” mode from the drop-down menu.

That’s it! Now any changes made will be marked as suggestions rather than updating the original document.

You can also use keyboard shortcuts to toggle track changes on and off:

  • Ctrl + Alt + Shift + A – Turn on suggesting mode
  • Esc – Turn off the suggesting mode

Now when you or other collaborators edit the document, you’ll see those Google Docs edits marked visually:

  • Additions are highlighted in green
  • Deletions are crossed out with a red line
  • Formatting changes have a dotted underlining

All edits appear in the suggestion panel on the right, allowing you to easily review and manage changes.

Also Read: How to Voice Typing on Google Docs

Reviewing Changes and Suggestions

With Google Docs track changes enabled, how do you review edits and decide whether to accept or reject them? Here are some tips:

  • Click on any marked change to open a comment box where you can see details on the edit.
  • Use the suggestion panel on the right to quickly scan additions, deletions, and comments.
  • Click the ✓ icon on any comment to accept that change.
  • Click the ✕ icon to reject the change and keep the original.
  • Right-click on a marked change and use the menu to accept/reject all changes by that person.
  • On the right panel, open the Action menu to accept/reject all changes at once.

Reviewing changes is easy with the color-coded highlights and organized right panel in Google Docs. You can approve good suggestions instantly or hold off on changes that need discussion.

Who Can Use Track Changes in Google Docs

By default, anyone who has edit access to a Google Doc can turn on suggesting mode and add tracked changes. However, if you want to limit it to certain collaborators, you can adjust user permissions.

Only document owners can change permissions. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Google Doc and select the Share button in the top right.
  2. Click Advanced in the bottom right corner.

Adjust user roles as needed:

  • Editors can add and edit content + turn on track changes
  • Commenters can add comments only, not directly edit
  • Viewers can view the document but not make changes

So if you only want certain people to directly edit the doc, you can downgrade other collaborators to Commenter access. They can still suggest edits, but you fully control the content.

Also Read: How to Draw in Google Docs

Track Changes vs Version History

Google Docs has two helpful features that record document changes:

  • Track changes marks additions, deletions, and formatting edits
  • Version history creates save points you can revert to

Think of version history like checkpoints. You can view and restore past versions, but you can’t see the specific edits made between versions.

Track changes show you the granular revisions between saves. It’s better to collaborate and refine a draft together.

Track Changes on Google Sheets

The Google Sheets track changes feature works just like Google Docs, with a few small differences:

  • It’s called Edit history rather than suggestions
  • Changes are shown in a chronological list view rather than the right panel
  • Includes spreadsheet-specific changes like sorting, filtering, merging/unmerging cells, etc.

To use edit history in Google Sheets:

  1. Click File > Version history > See edit history
  2. Review additions, deletions, and other cell changes made by collaborators
  3. Click a timestamp to see the spreadsheet at that point in time
  4. Restore any previous version if desired

The edit history gives you transparency into cell changes and formula edits over time.

Google Docs Track Changes on Mobile

When editing docs on your phone or tablet, you might be wondering – can you track changes on Google Docs mobile?

The answer is yes! Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the Google Doc in the mobile app
  2. Tap the 3 dots in the top right corner
  3. Choose “Suggesting mode”
  4. Make your edits and suggestions as normal
  5. Review changes in the panel on the right

The process works the same as on a desktop. With mobile editing on the rise, it’s great Google Docs makes track changes available across all platforms.

Top Tips for Google Docs Track Changes

Here are some expert tips for getting the most out of Google Docs track changes:

  • Name versions by date so you can find old saves easily in the version history
  • Turn on track changes before sending to collaborators to avoid editing conflicts
  • Use “View > Show comments” to temporally hide suggestions and declutter
  • Resolve comments in LIFO order (Last In, First Out)
  • Set document permissions before sharing if you want to limit editing
  • Use the Suggest a file change feature to let viewers propose edits
  • Accept/reject changes as you review – don’t leave them to pile up
  • Open the document outline to quickly navigate between changed sections
  • Customize the suggestion panel to group by an editor, type of change, etc.

Google Docs Track Changes vs Microsoft Word

If you’re used to the legacy track changes feature in Microsoft Word, how does Google Docs compare?

There are a lot of similarities:

  • Both allow multiple editors to collaborate on a document
  • Changes are shown with color-coded highlights/strikethroughs
  • You can accept/reject each change
  • Includes options to hide and show comments

However, Google Docs has some advantages:

  • Real-time co-editing lets multiple people edit simultaneously
  • Suggestion panel provides an easy bird’s eye view of changes
  • Integrates seamlessly with other G Suite apps like Google Drive
  • Allows adding comments/suggestions without impacting the original
  • Unlimited version history – never lose important document states

Overall, both get the job done but Google Docs offers a smoother modern experience. The tight integration with other Google services gives it the edge for real-time collaboration.

Also Read: How to Add Page Numbers in Google Docs

Troubleshooting Google Docs Track Changes

Track changes are a handy feature, but sometimes things can go wrong. Here are fixes for common track changes Google Docs issues:

Are changes not showing up?

  • Make sure the suggesting mode is enabled – it’s easy to forget to turn it on.
  • Refresh the browser, changes don’t always display immediately.

Can’t find the comment panel?

  • It may be hidden – go to View > Show comments to turn it back on.

Is version history missing?

  • Be sure the document is saved to Google Drive, not local storage.
  • Versions are limited to 100 – older ones get replaced.

Are edits displaying incorrectly?

  • Try manually accepting all changes and then turning track changes back on.
  • Delete revision history and ask collaborators to re-suggest edits.

Track changes won’t turn off?

  • It can get stuck sometimes – reload the document and try again.
  • Make sure you’re in Editing mode, not Suggesting mode.

For other issues, Google’s troubleshooting guides can help identify solutions.

Key Takeaways on Google Docs Track Changes

Here are the core things to remember about track changes in Google Docs:

  • It allows transparent editing by marking additions, deletions, and formatting changes
  • Switch to Suggesting mode to turn on track changes
  • Review changes in the right panel and accept/reject as needed
  • Adjust user permissions if you want to limit editing abilities
  • It provides an editing paper trail – great for collaborating on long docs
  • Available across web, desktop, and mobile so you can track changes anywhere

With great collaborative features like this, it’s clear why Google Docs has become so ubiquitous. Track changes facilitate structured workflows for creating complex documents together.

Also Read: How to Check Word Count in Google Docs

Turn on Google Docs Track Changes Today!

With that, you should have a solid grasp of how to track changes in Google Docs work. The key is enabling Suggesting mode before collaborators access the document. That ensures all edits are visually tracked and easy to manage in one place.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever collaborated without this indispensable feature. So give it a try on your next group project! Turn on track changes in Google Docs to kick your teamwork and transparency up a notch.

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