Now that more and more document based applications do the modern "save, duplicate, revert to" Versions thing instead of the traditional "save, save as, revert".

Having had 30 years becoming quite adept at the traditional workflow, I'm having trouble adapting.

For example, often I'll open a file like a spreadsheet, hide a few columns, paginate in landscape orientation, print, and then click the close button expecting that the file on disk wont have changed. But it has...

So how do I revert to the version of the file you opened before?

PS: I assume this answer to its 10 year old question is sarcastic, awaiting something a bit more sensible.

1 Answer 1


Apple have made a few modifications to the behaviour in the last 13 years: there are now options in System Preferences > General about whether apps ask to keep changes when closing a document; and also whether the documents will 're-spawn' when the app is restarted.

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Checking the first of these options will protect you from the worst effects of your ingrained behaviour. In both the situations you describe, you'll be asked if you want to keep your changes.

  1. File > Revert To.. will show you previously saved version of your document, so you should be able to restore the changes you made. You will also have your Time Machine backup, in extremis.

  2. I'll agree that the 'new' document method doesn't suit Preview, because you often want to keep the original photo after making modifications, rather than only wanting a 'latest/current' document.

For that reason (and others) I'd recommend using a different image viewer or editor instead of Preview. Perhaps do your editing in something like Affinity Photo, and just use Preview for viewing.

However, it shouldn't really take long to become accustomed to the new paradigm. Don't think of an open window as a temporary thing, but a permanent thing.

  • The "General" preference is excellent thank you. But for #1, as the question I linked to says, it's not possible to identify the previously opened version (remembering that saved versions are created without notice) in the list. And it seems like #2 suggests switching to a program that doesn't use the new paradigm. I agree, becoming accustomed is the best plan (even that "General" preference seems to be just holding back time), but these seem like pretty fundamental workflows to simply give them up. Anyway, appreciate the answer. I'm keen to get more accustomed. Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 0:34
  • It’s hard to answer two questions all at once. Why not ask your second question as a brief, clear follow on and link it back here @HeathRaftery
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 30, 2022 at 1:00
  • Done as you suggested @bmike (although, I'm not sure what a "follow on" is in this context so I opted to use the normal SO style of complete and standalone instead). So now I think the suggestion in this answer to enable that "ask to keep" option, plus simply closing the file and then optionally reopening it, is the best (and slightly nerve-racking) answer to the new narrower question. I still hold out hope there's a more sweeping workflow change I can make, rather than trying to patch my experience back together at each juncture, but we'll see. Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 5:19
  • Here’s the link for a follow on question if needed - apple.stackexchange.com/questions/ask
    – bmike
    Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 23:26

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