How to Audit Edit History in Google Sheets

Being able to audit the edit history in Google Sheets is an invaluable feature for tracking changes and catching errors. Especially when collaborating with others on the same spreadsheet, it’s important to see what edits other users have made.

Fortunately, Google Sheets offers several ways to audit the edit history:

View Version History

The easiest way to see the full edit history of a Google Sheet is to view the version history:

  1. Open the Google Sheet
  2. Click File > Version history > See version history
  3. A sidebar will appear showing all previous versions of the spreadsheet, with details on:
    • Date/time of edit
    • User who made the edit

To see exactly what changed between versions:

  1. Check the Show changes box at the bottom of the version history sidebar
  2. Select any two versions to compare
  3. Changes will be highlighted in the spreadsheet

You can also:

  • Restore an older version
  • Make a copy of an older version to edit
  • Name versions for easier reference

Check Cell Edit History

To see only the edit history for a specific cell:

  1. Right-click the cell
  2. Select Show edit history
  3. A box will show details on edits made to only that cell

You can click the back/forward arrows to cycle through the history.

Track Changes with Notifications

You can get emailed notifications whenever changes are made to the spreadsheet:

  1. Go to Tools > Notification rules
  2. Set a rule to get notifications for “Any changes” made
  3. You’ll get an email with a link to see the changes

Use Conditional Formatting

Add conditional formatting rules to visually indicate when changes are made:

  1. Select the cells to track
  2. Go to Format > Conditional formatting
  3. Add a rule to change text/fill color for edited cells
  4. Changes will be clearly highlighted

Export Edit History

You can export the edit history to a separate spreadsheet:

  1. Make a copy of the original spreadsheet
  2. Delete all existing data, leaving only column headers
  3. Go to Tools > Script editor
  4. Copy/paste this script to export the history
  5. Run the script to populate the edit history

Best Practices

When auditing edit history in Google Sheets, follow these best practices:

  • Check history regularly – Don’t just look when something seems wrong. Routine checks ensure quality.
  • Note anomalies – Record unexplained/suspicious changes for follow up.
  • Confirm corrections – When fixing errors found in history, document steps taken.
  • Review with collaborators – Discuss changes after major shared edits.
  • Name key versions – Label milestone versions for easy reference later.

Conclusion

The ability to audit edit history sets Google Sheets apart from traditional spreadsheets. Take advantage of these auditing features to improve accuracy and efficiency when collaborating and updating important data sets. Just be sure to follow best practices around routine checks, documentation, and communication.