Tip: Retrieve Lost Data in Powerpoint with Version History

About this lesson

PowerPoint Version History Rescue

In this training video, learn how to recover lost or deleted slides in Microsoft PowerPoint using the Version History feature, available in the paid Office 365 version. Imagine the nightmare of accidentally deleting a crucial slide or your dog messing up your presentation; Version History can save you from these disasters. This feature is accessible on both Windows and macOS when saving files to Microsoft OneDrive or SharePoint.

The tutorial demonstrates the process of restoring a deleted slide by accessing Version History through the file name at the top of the PowerPoint window. This feature allows you to browse previously saved versions of your presentation, even if the UNDO function fails after the file is closed. It highlights the steps to either restore the entire version or save it as a new file, ensuring that your important data can be retrieved and reinstated without hassle.

Additionally, the video covers tips for effectively using Version History, such as always saving on the cloud to ensure version capture, and considering manual file versioning for critical projects. It also points out the limitations of the feature, like the lack of detailed change tracking found in Word and Excel. By the end of the tutorial, viewers will be equipped to handle data recovery in PowerPoint, making sure their presentations are never irretrievably lost.


Questions Answered

01:15 Understanding Office 365 Version History
05:16 WHERE is Version History Saved?
05:28 WHEN are Versions Saved?


01:15 Understanding Version History
05:16 WHERE are Versions Saved?
05:28 WHEN are Versions Saved?
06:27 Opening Multiple Versions in Read Only
07:09 Version History SAVE AS versus RESTORE
08:27 Manual Versioning – Advantages
09:32 Missing Features


Subject Microsoft PowerPoint

Software Compatibility Office 365 for Mac and Windows


Course Completed

PDF Files There are not any files associated with this lesson.



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PowerPoint Version History Transcript

Imagine this nightmare. Your Microsoft PowerPoint presentation destroyed.

What if last week, your boss told you to delete the graph page you spent 2 hours working on.  But today he changed his mind, and he wants it back? In next 15 minutes!


Bella, your Maltese puppy, stomped around on your keyboard without your knowledge. You saved and closed the doggy edited file.

Bad Puppy.

The UNDO feature will not save you!

But if you are running Office 365;

VERSION HISTORY to the rescue.

Hi, this is Les from Power Up training and I will show you how to perform a miracle time travel to recover older data hiding in your file to fix ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS

This magic trick will only work on the paid version of Office 365, on either a mac or windows computer; plus, you must be saving your work on Microsoft OneDrive or the Cloud version of SharePoint.

Let’s do it.

In this PowerPoint slide Deck with nine slides, I will delete slide number 4 called A CRTICAL SLIDE #1.

Obviously, if this is a mistake, then a simple undo would bring it back.

But if I close the file out (and it is autosaving because I am using Microsoft OneDrive); then the deleted slide will not be there when I reopen the saved file.

And UNDO is no help.

See the grayed-out undo feature?  That is because undo only works on the latest actions of an active OPEN file.  Once closed. that undo solution is gone.

However, the job-saving fix is to access “version history.“ A hidden feature just waiting for your discovery

Click on the file name at the top of PowerPoint window.  Yes, right on top of the document name. Click.

And in the drop-down menu, you will see VERSION HISTORY.

For macOS users, the same action will show a slightly different menu layout.  On the mac,  you click BROWSE VERSION HISTORY.

And that description of BROWSE VERSION HISTORY is spot on because we can browse previously saved files or more accurately saved historical versions to bring lost data back to life.

Watch what happens on my Windows computer.

On the right side of the screen, PowerPoint shows all of the previous versions of saved changes.

In my case, I created it and saved it.  So I have two edited versions of this document to choose from.

My currently working version plus one previous version.

For this example, let’s use the oldest version, the one before I deleted the slide.  More on this later.

When it comes back up and I switch over to slide sorter view, we see that all nine slides are there, including the deleted CRITICAL SLIDE #1.

It is BACK, baby!  Disaster averted. Job saved.

But we are not done yet.

Note that the file is in Read ONLY mode.

So we can either save it under a different name or RESTORE it to the original name.

This time around, I will use RESTORE and it will replace the version I was working on . . the one with the deleted slide. . with the recovered history version. There is no new secondary file in my save folder; the restored version becomes my primary working canvas.

And don’t worry if the older, now restored version is missing more recent updated data. You can always use a version history point in time to recover that data too.

But don’t go yet; there are some subtleties and tricks still need to learn. If you go, you risk finding out the hard way.

Let me go back and make some radical changes to this presentation.

Moving images,  Removing Text. Deleting Text Boxes. Changing Chart colors.

Before we close the file, TIP #! always look for the SAVING message at the top of the screen next to name to completed. Microsoft is good about saving before closing.  But give it some time.

Once saved and you EXIT, a REVISION version is recorded.

The VERSION is for the completed editing session which just ended as you close the FILE CLOSING.

You can count on that! A captured version.

As long as you are saving in the cloud on OneDrive.

However, once reopened, the versioning points in time get a bit fuzzy.

Yes, PowerPoint is saving version points in time while you edit, but it is not saving every time you touch your keyboard or apply an enhancement.

As you edit, PowerPoint will periodically create a VERSION HISTORY.

So during an editing session, you might be able to go back to an early point in time to retrieve lost data.

But no matter what, you can always go back to the most recently SAVED and CLOSED version.

And remember, when you open a VERSION HISTORY, it is opened in a READ ONLY mode in a different window.

So you could copy that older retrieved data back to your active workspace.

This can be advantageous compared to UNDO.

The UNDO feature just walks back in time, one step at a time, removing items and actions incrementally with each undo action.

While the Version history may be a more surgical restoration. Find and retrieve only the changed data you need.

Which brings us to TIP #2.  Consider saving the restored version as a new name.

For my just recently havoc wreaked presentation. when I bring it back up, it is a mess.

So one strategy is to retrieve an earlier VERSION HISTORY, but this this time, instead of restoring to the currently working file, I elect to do a FILE and SAVE AS where I give it a new name.

At this point I now have TWO files:

1) the original with all the errors but also holding my historic changes over time. And

2) my newly saved file with the new name with a VERISION HISTORY now starts all  over again.

But look, I am still missing one slide . . . the “A CRTICAL SLIDE #1”

That’s not a disaster . . . may be inconvenient, but I can go back to my original file and look through the VERSION HISTORYS to find and recover the lost data, or in this case, that one Lost slide.

Copy it back over and once again  . . whew . . .JOB SAVED.

Tip 3: VERSION HISTORY FILE NAMING can be a lifesaver; especially on long and complex slide shows.

If it is a SUPER CRITICAL or a time-intensive creation process. I recommend periodic file versioning.   By Hand.

Meaning that you perform a SAVE AS, and then append VERSION 2 or 2.1 or some other numbering system to the end of the file name.  Now you will have a permanent new FILE version to go back to with each newly saved as FILE holding not just your designated point in time but also the ongoing internal VERSION HISTORY built in.  Micro increments inside the larger file versions.

Except to the detriment of disk space and more files to manage, you can’t have too many backups for important files.

Lastly, as of October 2023, PowerPoint lacks the detailed “review feature” found in Word and Excel’s employment of VERSION HISTORY.

Subscribe and check out those tutorials for to see those enhancements.

Or to explore more about this dropdown dialog box, check out this tutorial on one click renaming and moving of Office files without having to leave your document.

Until next time, go Power Up.