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Browse Version History Grayed Out on Mac | Why/How to Enable

Updated on Wednesday, April 24, 2024

iBoysoft author Jenny Zeng

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Jenny Zeng
Professional tech editor

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Jessica Shee

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How to Recover Data if Browse Version History is Grayed Out?

Summary: This post tells you why Browse Version History is grayed out on Word, Excel, or PowerPoint and how to enable or recover the previous version. To quickly check if the document is recoverable, download iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

Browse Version History grayed out on Mac

Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint allow you to browse version history on Mac to conveniently restore to a previous version. However, the feature isn't enabled by default. The "Browse Version History" button is grayed out when it's turned off.

If you have assumed the option is on, you're likely frustrated now because you can't go back to an older version. But all hope is not lost. There are still ways that may help you get back to the previous version. Try them out before giving up.

Why is Browse Version History greyed out on Mac?

"Browse Version History" is grayed out on Mac when the files are stored locally. Only when the files are stored in the cloud with OneDrive or SharePoint will the option be available. This rule applies to all Office suites, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Browse Version History grayed out on Excel

How to enable Browse Version History on Word, Excel, or PowerPoint?

To enable "Browse Version History" on Mac, you just need to save the file you're working with to OneDrive or SharePoint. SharePoint and OneDrive for work or school are usually provided by your organization. But you can use the free 5GB of cloud storage offered by OneDrive for every Windows account. Here's how to do it.

  1. Open the file in the specific app.
  2. Click Save > Save As.
  3. Name the document.
  4. Select OneDrive or SharePoint as the location. If the dialog box doesn't show an online service, click "Online Locations."
    How to enable Browse Version History on Mac
  5. Once the location is selected, navigate to the folder where you want to keep your file.
  6. Click Save.

Note that the feature needs to be enabled before saving changes. If you turn it on now, you'll have access to version history in the future.


How to recover data when Browse Version History is grayed out on Mac?

So, the question is, how can you recover data if "Browse Version History" is grayed out in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint on your Mac? Here are the ways worth trying:

Way 1: Restore the previous version with iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac

One easy way to verify if your work is recoverable is to use a document recovery tool like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac. It can scan your drive to find all files stored on it, even if they don't seem to be available now. As long as the previous version still exists, this software will dig it out.

The program runs perfectly on all types of Macs, including Intel-based, T2, M1, M2, and M3 Macs. It's the go-to tool for recovering a previous version of a Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document on Mac when "Browse Version History" appears grayed out. It also has wide compatibility with macOS versions, supporting Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan and later.

Take these steps to restore to an earlier version of Office documents on Mac:

Step 1: Download and install iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

Step 2: Open the software, select the drive where the document is stored, and click "Search for Lost Data."

Sacn drive for previous document versions

Step 3: Wait until the scan is finished.

Step 4: Filter the results to locate the desired document. For instance, you can choose Documents on the left side, or search for the document extension like (.docx) in the search bar.

Organize found files on Mac

Step 5: Preview the file for free.
Preview files on Mac

Step 6: Tick the box next to the file you want to recover, click Recover, and then save it to a different location.

Recover Word Excel or PowerPoint file on Mac

Way 2: Check Time Machine backups or snapshots

Did you configure Time Machine on your Mac? If your Mac was backed up after the version you want to retrieve was saved and before a new version was created, you can easily restore that version with the backup.

Even if the backup disk isn't connected, you might still have a local snapshot of your previous version of the office document if you have set Time Machine to automatically back up your Mac.

Usually, Time Machine creates a snapshot every hour for file changes and stores it for up to 24 hours or until the storage is needed. If you act fast, you can recover your data from the snapshots.

To restore a previous version of Word, Excel, or PowerPoint on Mac:

  1. Connect the backup disk if you think the intended document version is saved on a backup.
  2. Open Finder, then navigate to where the file is located and select it.
  3. Launch Time Machine.
  4. Use the arrows and timeline to move to the backup or snapshot containing the previous version.
    How to restore to a previous version with Time Machine
  5. Select it and click Restore.

Way 3: Check the AutoRecovered files

There's a feature in Office applications called AutoRecovery. It defaults to saving a copy of a file in the background every 10 minutes to prevent data loss in the event of a power outage or system crash.

If you lost the previous version due to an unexpected shutdown, you can recover the file from the AutoRecover folder. However, this doesn't work for files that are manually saved because the AutoRecovered files are removed in this case.

To find the AutoRecovered files on your Mac, open Finder, then click Go > Go To Folder and enter the proper folder path below:

Word: /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/com.Microsoft/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery

Excel: /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Excel/Data/Library/Application Support/Microsoft

PowerPoint: /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/com.Microsoft.Powerpoint/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery

Share this guide to benefit others who can't browse version history on Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.