Check out, check in, or discard changes to files in a site library

If you want to make changes to a file that resides in a site library, the safest way to do it is to check the file out. That way, you can be sure that no one else can change the file while you are working on it. When you have the file checked out, you have the opportunity to edit it on or offline, and save it—multiple times, if necessary.

When you complete your edits and check the file back into its site library, other people can see your changes and it becomes available to them for check-out, if they have appropriate permissions. And, if you decide not to make or keep any changes in the file, you can simply discard your checkout so that you do not affect version history.

What do you want to do?


Overview

Some libraries are configured to require checkout of files. If this is the case in your organization, you will be prompted to check out any files that you want to edit. When you are finished with the file, you must check it back in or discard the checkout.

If checkout is not required, you can open a document in its library, make changes, save it, and close it. However, if you do that, someone else might be working on the document at the same time and can overwrite your changes. Unless you are completely certain that you are the only one who has the file open, it is best to check it out before you apply any changes.

 Important    If you are working as a co-author a document (when multiple people work simultaneously on the same document), do not check the document out unless you want to write exclusively to it.

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Check out a file

To check out a file from a library:

  1. Navigate to the library where your file resides.
  2. Choose one of the following methods of checking out the file:
  • Point to the file name, click the drop-down arrow that is next to the file name, and select Check Out.

Drop-down list for a Word file that is selected in a SharePoint list. "Check Out" is highlighted.

  • Select the check box next to the file name and, on the ribbon, select the Check Out icon.

SharePoint ribbon with "Check Out" selected

A message box opens, advising you that you are about to check out a file. If you want to save it in the folder you have designated for your local drafts, select the Use my local drafts folder check box.

Message box that offers the opportunity to keep checked out file in a local drafts folder

 Important    If you select two or more files for checkout, you do not have the option to save them to a local drafts folder.

  1. Decide whether you want to save the file to your local drafts folder. Speed and portability are the advantages of saving the file to a local folder. Greater file protection is the advantage of working online. If you do not need to work offline, you might prefer to work online. If you want to save it to your local drafts folder, select the Use my local drafts folder check box. Otherwise, do not select the check box.
  2. Click OK.

When the file is checked out, the icon next to the file name is partially covered by a green, downward-pointing arrowIcon displaying checkout symbol. This tells you, or anyone else, that the file is checked out. If you hover over the icon of any checked-out file, a tool tip displays the name of the document and the name of the person who has it checked out.

ToolTip that appears below the checked-out file icon. It lets the user know the file name and who has it checked out.

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Check in a file

Your files, and any changes you have made to them, will not be available to your colleagues until you check them back into your library.

To check in a file

  1. Navigate to the library where your file resides.
  2. Choose one of the following methods for checking your file back in:
  • Point to the file that you want to check in, click the drop-down arrow that is next to the file name, and then select Check In.

Drop-down box showing "Check in" selected

  • Select the check box next to the file icon and then, on the ribbon, click Check In.

SharePoint ribbon with cursor pointing to the Check in icon

  1. When the Check in message box opens, make the appropriate selection in the Retain Check Out area.
  • If you want to do an interim check-in and then continue working on the file, select Yes in the Retain Check Out area.
  • If you are finished with your work on the file and do not need to keep it checked out, select No in the Retain Check Out area.

Message box that appears when a file is checked in

  1. In the Comments area, add a comment that describes the changes you made. This step is optional but recommended as a best practice. Check-in comments are especially helpful when several people work on a file. Moreover, if versions are being tracked in your organization, the comment becomes part of the version history, which may be important to you in the future, if you need to return to an earlier version of the file for any reason.
  2. Click OK to finish checking in the file or Cancel if you change your mind for some reason. The green arrow disappears from the file icon when the file is checked back in.

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Discard a check-out

If you check out a file and make no changes to it, you can simply discard the checkout, rather than saving it. If your organization tracks versions, a new version is created each time you check a file back into the library. By discarding the checkout, you can avoid making new versions when you have not made any changes to the file.

In some cases, you might make changes that you do not want to keep. Rather than saving the file, you can discard the checkout and thereby lose the changes.

To discard a check-out:

  1. Navigate to the library where your file resides.
  2. Choose one of the following methods for checking your file back in:
  • Point to the file that you want to check in, click the drop-down arrow that is next to the file name, and then select Discard Check Out.

Drop-down menu showing "Discard checkout" selected

  • Select the check box next to the file icon and then, on the ribbon, click Discard Check Out.

Discard checkout icon on the SharePoint ribbon

  1. When the Open Document message box announces that you are about to discard the file, click OK to finish checking in the file or Cancel if you change your mind. The green arrow disappears from the file icon when the file is checked back in.

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Check out, check in, or undo checkouts for multiple files

To check out, check in, or undo checkout of several files at the same time:

  1. Select the check box next to the file icon for each file you want to check in, check out, or discard.

SharePoint document library that has multiple files marked for check-out

  1. On the ribbon, select Check Out, Check In, or Discard Check Out, as appropriate.
  2. Click OK when the message box appears.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Foundation 2010 , SharePoint Online for enterprises, SharePoint Online for professionals and small businesses , SharePoint Server 2010