LibreOffice Version Control

While working on a manuscript, it is a good idea to keep different versions of the document (1st draft, 2nd draft, 3rd draft, etc.) in case you need to go back to an earlier version of your work. Many times this is accomplished by saving the document under a new name. Another approach is using some kind of version control software that allows you to track changes. However, LibreOffice does have a basic version control system built in and contains all the versions in one file.

The Origin of Versions


To save the current state of the document as a new version, select the menus File > Versions. Click the “Save New Version” button. A dialog will come up that allows you to add a comment to the version you are creating. The comment is up to your and can contain just a few words or an entire paragraph. I recommend using the comment as a way to remind yourself why you saved the version in the first place.

The checkbox “Always save a version on closing” does just that. Every time you close the document a new version is created.

Back in Time

If you create versions of your document, there will come a time when you will want to view or revert back to a certain version. To open a version of the document, use the menus File > Versions. Select the version you want to open and click the “Open” button. The saved version of the document opens in a new document in read-only mode. If you want to work with this version of the document, you will need to save it under a new document name. You can now edit and change the document as you need. Keep in mind that the document is a new document without the previously saved versions.

Show Me the Versions

When you go to Files > Versions, you see a list of the different versions you have saved along with their comments. However, some comments are longer than the space provided. If you need to read the entire comment, select the version from the list and click on the “Show” button. This allows you to see, but not edit, the entire version comment.

You Are Outta Here

A version is usually create for a specific purpose. If you decide that a version is no longer necessary, go to File > Versions, select the version you no longer need, and click the “Delete” button. This permanently deletes the selected version. Keep in mind there is no undo for this action.

Why Are You Not Like the Other Versions?


You may find yourself actually asking this question. What exactly is the difference between this version and what you currently have? At this point, you’re wishing you had made a more descriptive comment. So, you go to Files > Versions, you select the version in question, and click on the “Compare” button. Compare makes a comparison of the differences between the selected version and the current version. It also gives you a dialog which allows you to accept or reject the changes. This is a good way to go back to the better phrasing or sentence you had in an earlier version before you screwed it up.


LibreOffice provides a very basic version control system. This version control is available in all the modules except for Base. The system allows you to create multiple versions of the same document in one file. You can open a document as a new document to view or save for editing. You can view the long comment you created when you saved the document. You can delete versions when they are no longer needed. Finally, you can compare any version with the current document and accept or reject the differences between the two.


2 comments on “LibreOffice Version Control

  1. […] hard to use for copying an entire paragraph.Tap the editable text you've chosen four times and the entire paragraph will be copied. This can also work for URL […]

  2. […] that can open and save files in the .doc(x) format if needed. But most importantly, they have basic functionality for version control built in: File → Versions (hat-tip to my brother, Aditya, for pointing […]

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