Enable and configure versioning for a list or library

When you track versions of files or list items, each version is numbered and saved as part of a version history. People in your organization can view the version history and recover earlier versions if needed. You can configure several settings that affect versioning, including which type and how many versions to retain. You can also configure settings that interact with versioning, such as requiring content to be approved or files to be checked out.



Overview

Versioning in lists and libraries enables you to track and manage information as it evolves and to view and recover earlier versions if necessary. In lists, all versions are tracked in the same way. In libraries, you can specify whether to track all versions in the same way or specify that some versions are major (major version: A numbered copy of a file that has changed significantly since the previous major version. Each major version is identified by a whole number (1, 2, 3, ...) to indicate that it is published for a wider group in your organization to view.), such as those in which a new chapter is added to a manual, and some are minor (minor version: A decimal-numbered copy (0.1, 0.2, 1.1, ...) of a file that is in a stage of revision or that has changed only slightly since the previous version. Typically, a minor version is not published for a wider group in your organization to view.), such as those in which a spelling error is corrected.

To help manage storage space, you can specify the number of versions that you want to store. Limiting the number of versions can help you to manage server space, as well as prevent the version history from becoming too cumbersome to be useful. People can overwrite a previous minor version with an existing version, if they don't want to clutter the file's history with lots of minor changes.

Managing major and minor versions

If your organization usually produces many drafts of files, tracking both major and minor versions can be beneficial. People can differentiate between the levels of changes that they make and communicate when a file has reached a stage in which they want other people to view it. For example, when your department is working on a manual, you and your team members may want to designate versions as major when a new section is added and designate versions as minor while the content is drafted.

Tracking both kinds of versions also helps make the version history more meaningful. For example, a major version is more likely to represent a milestone in the file's development, such as a file being submitted for review or being distributed to others. A minor version is typically a routine increment, such as a version that you save or check in while you are still writing the content, or a version in which you correct some minor errors.

When major and minor versions are being tracked, a version is stored by default as a minor version, unless the you designate the version as major. When someone saves a file and closes it, the version is tracked as a minor version; the file must be published to become a major version. If an author checks out a file and checks it back in, the author is prompted to choose whether to check in a major version or a minor version.

When you configure versioning at the time when you create a list or library, simple versioning is enabled by default, and you don't have the option of enabling major and minor versioning. However, you can specify additional settings later by using the procedures in this article.

Other settings that affect versioning

You can configure other settings that affect versioning. In lists or libraries, you can require content to be approved — this setting is sometimes referred to as content moderation. In libraries, you can require files to be checked out, which helps to avoid conflicts over changes and prompts people to enter comments about files when they check them in.

Content approval

When content approval is required, a list item or file remains in a draft or pending state until it is approved or rejected by someone who has permission to approve it. If the item or file is approved, it is assigned an Approved status in the list or library, and it is displayed to anyone with permission to view the list or library. If the item or file is rejected, it remains in a pending state and is visible only to the people with permission to view drafts.

When you enable major and minor versioning in a library that requires content approval, you can also add a workflow, if you or someone in your organization has created one. A workflow controls how your files move through business processes, such as review or approval. You can use a workflow to manage the approval process when major versions are checked in.

By default, a pending item or file is visible only to its creator and to the people with permission to manage lists, but you can specify whether other groups of users can view the item or file. If your library is set up to track both major and minor versions, the person who edits the file must first publish a major version of the file.

Requiring check-out

Requiring check-out can help your team make the most of versioning, because people specifically designate when a version is to be created. A version is created only when someone checks out a file, changes it, and then checks it back in. When check-out is not required, a version is created when someone first saves a file and this version is updated when the person closes it. If that person or someone else then opens and saves the file again, another version is created. Depending on the situation, you might not intend for multiple versions to be created, for example, if you have to close a file to attend a meeting before you finish making changes to the file.

When check-out is required, people cannot add files, change files, or change the file properties without first checking out the file. When people check in files, they are prompted to provide comments about the changes that they made, which helps to create a more meaningful version history.

Determining who can see draft items

You can configure who can view drafts of list items and files. Drafts are created in two situations:

  • When a minor version of a file is created or updated in a library that tracks major and minor versions
  • When a list item or file is created or updated but not yet approved in a list or library in which content approval is required

When you track major and minor versions, you can specify whether people must have permission to edit files before they can view and read a minor version. When this setting is applied, people who have permission to edit the file can work on the file, but those who have permission only to read the file cannot see the minor version. For example, you may not want everyone who has access to your library to see comments or revisions while a file is being edited. If major and minor versions are being tracked and no one has published a major version yet, the file is not visible for people who do not have permission to see draft items.

When content approval is required, you can specify whether files that are pending approval can be viewed by people with permission to read, people with permission to edit, or only the author and people with permission to approve items. If both major and minor versions are being tracked, the author must publish a major version before the file can be submitted for approval. When content approval is required, people who have permission to read content but do not have permission to see draft items will see the last approved or major version of the file.

List or library permissions

Lists and libraries have permissions related to versioning and check-out that vary depending on the permission level that is applied to a user or a specific group. Someone who can edit permission levels can configure these permissions differently or can create a new group with customized permission levels.

These permissions enable flexibility in how you manage your library. For example, you may want someone to be able to delete versions of a file without having permission to delete the file itself. The permission to Delete Versions is not the same as the permission to Delete Items, so you can provide a customized level of control. Find links to more information about permissions and configuring permission levels in the See Also section.

The following table shows the permissions that are related to versioning and check-out and which default permission levels they apply to.

Permission Default permission level
View Versions Full Control, Design, Contribute, and Read
Delete Versions Full Control, Design, and Contribute
Override Check-Out Full Control and Design
Approve Items Full Control and Design

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Control how many versions are stored

You can limit how many versions of list items or files are saved in a list or library, which can help to preserve server space. If your team creates a large number of versions, limiting the number of versions may help your team to better manage and locate previous versions. For example, if your team keeps a large number of versions over several months or years, it may be difficult for members to browse through the version history to find the versions that they need. If your team needs to view or retain any of its previous versions, either do not limit the number of versions to keep or set the number of versions that you keep to a high number.

If your library tracks major and minor versions, you can choose how many major versions of files to keep and how many major versions to keep the minor versions for. By default, each major version can have up to 511 drafts (minor versions).

Depending on the way your team works, your team may be more likely to need its most recent minor versions, such as a version that was edited recently. Over time, your team may be less likely to need an older minor version. Usually, a major version represents a milestone, such as a file submitted for review or publication, whereas a minor version is a work in progress that isn't ready for all site participants to read.

If a list or library limits the number of major versions, the earliest versions are deleted when the limit is reached. For example, if only 20 versions are retained, and your team creates 25 versions, only versions 6 through 25 are kept. If another version is created, only versions 7 through 26 are kept. If your list or library limits versions, you should make sure that contributors are aware that earlier versions will be deleted when the version limit is reached.

 Important   If your organization limits the number of versions that it stores, the oldest versions are permanently deleted when the limit is reached. They are not sent to the Recycle Bin.

In a library that limits the number of major versions that it keeps minor versions for, the minor versions are deleted for the previous major versions when the version limit is reached. For example, if you keep drafts for only 10 major versions, and your team creates 15 major versions, only the major versions will be kept for the earliest versions. The minor versions that are associated with the five earliest major versions — such as 1.2 or 2.3 — are deleted, but the major versions — 1, 2, and so on — are kept, unless your library also limits major versions.

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Enable versioning

  1. If the list or library is not already open, click its name on the Quick Launch.

If the name of your list or library does not appear, click View All Site Content, and then click the name of your list or library.

On the Settings menu Settings menu, click List Settings, or click the settings for the type of library that you are opening.

For example, in a document library, click Document Library Settings.

  1. Under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  1. Do one of the following:
    • For list items, to specify that versions are tracked, click Create a version each time you edit an item in a list in the Item Version History section.
    • For files, to specify that only one type of version is tracked, click Create major versions in the Document Version History section.
    • For files, to specify that both major and minor versions are tracked, click Create major and minor (draft) versions in the Document Version History section.
  2. You can specify how many versions of items or files to keep. Do one of the following in the Item Version History section or Document Version History section:
    • To specify the number of versions of list items that are stored, select the Keep the following number of versions check box, and then type the number of versions that you want to keep.
    • To specify the number of major versions of files that are stored, select the Keep the following number of major versions check box, and then type the number of major versions that you want to keep.
    • To specify the number of major versions to keep the drafts for, select the Keep drafts for the following number of major versions check box, and then type of the number of major versions that you want to keep drafts (minor versions) for.
  3. Click OK.

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Require content approval in a list or library

When you set up a list (list: A Web site component that stores and displays information that users can add to by using their browsers. Requires a Web server that is running Windows SharePoint Services.) or library (library: A location on a SharePoint site where a collection of files is managed. The library can display information, including user-defined properties, about each file.), you can require approval of the items or files — or of changes to the items or files — that are submitted to the list or library.

When this content approval setting is applied, an item or file that has been changed remains in a pending state until it is approved or rejected by someone who has permission to approve it. If the item or file is approved, it is assigned an Approved status in the list or library, and it is displayed to anyone with permission to view the list or library. If the item or file is rejected, it remains in a pending state and is visible only to the people with permission to view drafts.

By default, a pending item or file is visible only to its creator and to the people with permission to manage lists, but you can specify whether other groups of users can view the item or file.

  1. If the list or library is not already open, click its name on the Quick Launch.

If the name of your list or library does not appear, click View All Site Content, and then click the name of your list or library.

On the Settings menu Settings menu, click List Settings, or click the settings for the type of library that you are opening.

For example, in a document library, click Document Library Settings.

  1. Under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  1. In the Content Approval section, under Require content approval for submitted items?, click Yes.
  2. Click OK.

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Require check-out for files in a library

When you check out a file from some programs that are compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, you can work with the file on your hard disk, even when you are disconnected. The copy is stored in your server drafts folder, which is, by default, the SharePoint Drafts folder in your My Documents folder. However, you can change the location in some client programs. Working on files on the hard disk is frequently faster than working with files on the server and enables you to easily continue working while you are away from the office.

When a file is checked out, no one can edit it except the person who checked it out. Its icon in the library changes to indicate that the file is checked out Icon image. When you rest the mouse pointer on the checked-out icon, the name of the person whom the file is checked out to appears in a ScreenTip. Changes that someone makes to a file while it is checked out are not visible to others until the file is checked back in. This is true regardless of whether the person is working on the file on their hard disk or on the server.

When people check in a file, they are prompted to enter comments about the changes that they made. If a library tracks versions, the comments become part of the version history. If both major versions and minor versions are tracked, people are prompted to choose which type of version they are checking in. Find links to more information about versioning in the See Also section.

  • If the library is not already open, click its name on the Quick Launch.

If the name of your library does not appear, click View All Site Content, and then click the name of your library.

  • On the Settings menu Settings menu, click the settings for the type of library that you are opening.

For example, in a document library, click Document Library Settings.

  • Under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  • In the Require Check Out section, under Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited, click Yes.
  • Click OK.

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Applies to:
SharePoint Server 2007, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0