How to enable check-in, check-out, and versioning on a SharePoint document library

Learn what the difference is between check-in, check-out, and versioning, and how you can enable these document management features on a SharePoint document library.

ADVERTISEMENTS

Check-in and check-out

Check-in and check-out in document management controls the editing of documents by multiple people. It ensures that only one person can edit a document at a time.

To edit a document, a user would first have to check-out a document. This prevents anyone else from editing the document until that user checks the document back in.

During the period that the document is checked out, other users can only view a read-only version of the document. This does not include the changes that the user who has the document checked-out has made to the document.

Once the document is checked-in, the document becomes available again to be checked-out by someone else. In addition, all changes made by the person who checked-in the document are now visible to others, and if you wanted to, you could even create a SharePoint Designer workflow that sends out an alert to users whenever a major version of a document is checked-in.

By default, checking-in and checking-out of documents is disabled on SharePoint document libraries.

To enable check-in and check-out on a SharePoint document library

  1. Navigate to the SharePoint document library on which you want to enable check-in and check-out.
  2. On the Settings menu, click Document Library Settings.
  3. On the Customize page under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  4. On the Document Library Versioning Settings page, select Yes for Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited?, and click OK.

    Enabling check-in and check-out on documents in a Sharepoint document library.
    Figure 1. Enabling check-in and check-out on documents in a Sharepoint document library.

Versioning

While check-in and check-out controls the editing of documents by one person at a time, versioning takes care of keeping track of the changes made to documents.

Versioning makes use of version numbers to keep track of changes. For example, when a document is saved for the first time, it can be assigned version number 0.1. When it is edited and saved again, the version number is increased to 0.2. Version numbers 0.1 and 0.2 are considered “draft” or minor versions. Once a document becomes “final”, you can assign a version number such as 1.0 to it. The latter is called a major version. Major versions increase by whole numbers.

You could then make several changes to the document and increase the document’s version to 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. until you consider the document to be “final” again, and assign a version number of 2.0 to it.

You have 3 options for version control in SharePoint:

  1. No versioning
  2. Only major versions
  3. Major and minor versions

By default, versioning is disabled on SharePoint 2007 document libraries.

To enable version control on a SharePoint document library:

  1. Navigate to the SharePoint document library on which you want to enable version control.
  2. On the Settings menu, click Document Library Settings.
  3. On the Customize page under General Settings, click Versioning settings.
  4. On the Document Library Versioning Settings page, select Create major versions if you only want to enable major versions on documents or select Create major and minor (draft) versions if you want both major and minor versions on documents, and click OK.

    Enabling major and minor versions on documents in a SharePoint document library.
    Figure 2. Enabling major and minor versions on documents in a SharePoint document library.

If you selected Create major versions, each time a document is changed and saved, its version number will automatically increase by a whole number.

If you selected Create major and minor (draft) versions, you have to explicitly publish major versions through the Publish a Major Version menu option on documents in SharePoint document libraries.

Publishing a major version of a document in a SharePoint document library.
Figure 3. Publishing a major version of a document in a SharePoint document library.

To enable versioning on SharePoint 2010, see How to turn on versioning in SharePoint 2010.

Viewing and restoring previous versions of a document

A document management system should also allow you to view and retrieve or restore a previous version of a document.

This is handy for example if someone made changes to a document, and you’re not happy with those changes, you can revert back to an older version of the document that does not contain those changes.

To view the version history of a document in SharePoint:

  1. Choose Version History from the menu on a document in a SharePoint document library.
  2. On the Versions saved for document page, click on a version of the document, and select View from the context menu that appears.

    Viewing version of a document in a SharePoint document library.
    Figure 4. Viewing a version of a document in a SharePoint document library.

To restore a previous version of a document in SharePoint:

  1. Choose Version History from the menu on a document in a SharePoint document library.
  2. On the Versions saved for document page, click on a version of the document, and select Restore from the context menu that appears.

Related Articles

ADVERTISEMENTS