Enable and configure versioning for a library

One of the many decisions you must make when you set up a library concerns versioning. Do you want to retain versions of each item or file each time it is edited? If so, how many versions? Do you only want to track major versions, or both major and minor versions? Do you want all site users to see all draft versions, or should they be visible only to the originator and people with Design or Full Control permissions? The decision you make in each of these cases depends on the type and importance of items and files in the libraries, the purpose of each item or file, the needs of your user group, and the level of security you must maintain.

In this article


Why enable versioning?

When versioning is enabled in libraries, you can track and manage information as it evolves. You can look at earlier versions and recover them, if necessary. That is very handy, for example, if a file becomes corrupted or when people realize that earlier versions of a file might be more accurate than later ones. Some organizations retain multiple versions of their files for legal reasons or audit purposes. By default, versioning is turned off. To turn it on and implement your versioning decisions, you must either have Full Control or Design permissions.

You might also want to track both major and minor versions of a file. This is useful, for example, if you want to see how a legal opinion is evolving or what the thinking is behind a new program that is currently under development. A major version can signal that a document is ready for review by a wide audience, whereas the minor (draft) version is a work-in-progress and not yet ready for wide circulation.

A major version is one that has changed significantly since the last major version and it is identified by a whole number such as 2.0 Major versions are usually visible to all people who have access to the library. A minor version is one that has had only modest changes since the last major version. It is identified by a decimal number such as 2.1. In general, minor versions are visible only to those who are making the changes and to those who have Full Control or Design permission. However, you can set up the library to allow all site users to see all available drafts.

 Note    Major and minor versions are only available for libraries, not for lists.

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Versioning settings – How they work

The Versioning Settings dialog box contains four major sections, some of which are not strictly involved with versioning. Each section requires decisions when you set up a library. Of course, if you have the necessary permissions, you can change the settings at a later date.

  • Content Approval section   . Use this section to decide whether to require content approval for items that are submitted to the library.
  • Document Version History section   . Use this section to select the various versioning options that are available to you. The following table lists each option and the impact of choosing it.
Selection Impact

No versioning

Only the current version of an item or file is available to site users. This is the default setting

Create major versions

Versions are created and retained for each major version. Minor versions are neither created nor maintained.

Create major and minor (draft) versions

Both major and minor versions are created and tracked upon file check-in. The person who is working on the file must indicate, at check-in, whether the file is a major or minor version.

Keep the following number of major versions

If the check box for this optional setting is selected, the number below it indicates how many major versions are retained in the library. If, for example, that number is 25, the oldest version is deleted when the 26th version is created. Then, only versions 2-26 are available. You can manage your library more easily if you prevent the number of versions from proliferating. However, if it is important to retain every version, or a great number of versions, either apply a very high limit or no limit at all.

Keep drafts for the following number of major versions

If this optional setting is selected, the number in the box determines how many draft versions are retained. For example, you might decide that you want to retain 25 major versions, but you only require drafts for the most recent five versions. Unless you have a legal or another special requirement, you probably do not need to retain all drafts for all major versions.
  • Draft Item Security section   . Use this section to determine who should see draft items in the library. You can allow any user who has Read permissions to the library to view them, or you can restrict the view to only those users who can edit items or to only the author of the item and the people who can approve items. If you choose to restrict the view, only designated viewers can see the minor versions (drafts). Other users see only the major versions.
  • Require Check Out section   . Use this section to specify whether users must check out files before they can make changes to them.

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Enable versioning in a library

  1. Navigate to the library you plan to work in. If the library name does not appear in the Quick Launch pane, click All Site Content, and then select the name of your library.
  2. On the ribbon, in the Library Tools group, click the Library tab.
  3. Click Library Settings Library Settings button on the SharePoint Foundation Library ribbon.
  4. On the Library Settings page, under General Settings, click Versioning settings. The Versioning Settings dialog box opens.
  5. In the Document Version History section, select one of the following options:
  • Create major versions – If you select this, you can set a limit to the number of major versions.
  • Create major and minor (draft) versions – If you select this, you can set a limit to both the number of major versions and the number of versions for which you want to retain drafts.
  1. Optional: Limit the number of versions you want to retain.
  • Select the Keep the following number of major versions check box if you want to limit the number of versions that are retained in your library. Otherwise, do not select it. In the box immediately below the check box, enter the number of versions you want to retain.
  • Select the Keep drafts for the following number of major versions check box if you want to limit the number of drafts you retain. This option is available only when the Create major and minor (draft) versions option is selected. In the box immediately below the check box, enter the number of versions for which you want to keep drafts.
  1. Optional: Determine which users should be allowed to see draft items in the document library. In the Draft Item Security section, select one of the following.
  • Any user who can read items. Select this to allow access to anyone who has Read permissions to the site. This option is available when Create major and minor (draft) versions is selected in the Document Version History section.
  • Only users who can edit items. Select this to restrict the view of drafts to those who have permissions to edit. This option is available when Create major and minor (draft) versions is selected in the Document Version History section.
  • Only users who can approve items (and the author of the item). Select this to restrict the view to only the original author of the item and those who have permissions to approve items in the library. This option is available when the Content Approval section is set to Yes.
  1. Optional: Determine whether you want to require check out in this library. The default is to not require it. If you want to change the default, select Yes in the Require Check Out section.
  2. Click OK to close the dialog box and return to the Document Library Settings page.

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Remove versioning from a library

You may determine, after a while, that versioning is not necessary for your library. If you have Full Control or Design permissions, you can remove versioning from the library.

  1. Navigate to the library you plan to work in. If the library name does not appear in the Quick Launch pane, click All Site Content, and then select the name of your library.
  2. On the ribbon, in the Library Tools group, click the Library tab.
  3. Click Library Settings Library Settings button on the SharePoint Foundation Library ribbon.
  4. On the Library Settings page, under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  5. In the Document Version History section of the Versioning Settings dialog box, select No Versioning. This removes any entries you previously created in this section.
  6. Click OK to close the dialog box and return to the Document Library Settings page.

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Video: Enable versioning in a library

In this video demonstration, you will see how to enable and configure versioning in a library. And, you will also see how other settings, such as required check-out or required approval, affect the way versioning works in a library.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Foundation 2010 , SharePoint Server 2010