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Returning to a Previous WordPress Post or Page

Revert to an Old Draft

Ever spend hours editing and re-editing a post, only to realize that you really preferred the original version? While the cmd+z (Mac) or ctrl+z (PC) keyboard shortcut is a great way to undo minor changes as you’re working, it won’t do you much good if you’ve re-written entire paragraphs, saved your changes, and closed your computer to go on a lunch break. Fortunately, WordPress automatically archives all of your previously saved versions so you can easily access them later, even if you’ve already saved new edits multiple times. Read on to add this stress-free saving habit to your arsenal of WordPress tricks.

To return to a prior version of a page or post:

screenshot showing two versions of a WordPress post.

  • Navigate to the page or post you want to revert to a previous draft.
  • In the right sidebar, make sure the post tab is selected, then click “__ Revisions.” The blank will be a number based on how many revisions you’ve made. Note: The revisions option will only show if you’ve actually made revisions. This step is shown in the screenshot above.
  • On this screen, there are two ways you can move back and forth between different revisions. Both are pretty intuitive – either click the “Previous” and “Next” buttons, or move the arrow icon backwards or forwards on the timeline at the top of the page.
  • As you move through revisions, you’ll notice that the content below changes. Within the content, additions are highlighted in green and deletions are highlighted in red. Note: The revisions include some code in addition to the text. If the idea of reading code makes your blood pressure spike, don’t worry, you can ignore all of the HTML surrounding your revisions. You only need to focus on what you’ve written, which appears between the short code phrases <p> and </p>. If you study the screenshot above, it’s easy to spot the lines of text bracketed by a <p> and a </p> – those are all you need to pay attention to.
  • Once you locate the revision you’d like to revert to, click the blue “Restore This Revision” button in the upper right, and voila! You’ve reverted your working draft back to the old version you were looking for.
  • If you’d like to return to the editing screen without restoring a different version, simply click the “Go to editor” link just above the “Previous” button.

The last thing to note is that this only works if you’re actually saving your progress. If you’ve been plugging away at your content for an hour without hitting the “Save draft” button once, WordPress can’t rescue you in the event of an unexpected computer crash or accidentally closed tab. Saving frequently is a great habit – even more so now that you know how easy it is to access and restore previous revisions of your posts. 

Functions like this are one of the many reasons we love WordPress. If you’re interested in learning more about why it’s our go-to for building websites click here to read further.

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