Download Previous Versions of Documents in SharePoint 2013

Have you ever wanted to view an older version of a file? Most of us have for one reason or another. Maybe there is a need to view content that was removed from the current version or you’re just bored. Whatever the reason, there is an easy way to do this for files that reside in document libraries that have versions enabled.


Step 1: Browse to document library
Step 2: Click the drop down arrow (or the ellipses) next to the file you want and click on the Version History link
Step 3: Find the the version number you want and click on the Date hyperlink in the “Modified” column to download the file.


Step 4: The document will download or prompt to be saved.



This method works for most documents including files and pages. However, it does not work for hidden files such as those in the Master Page Gallery (/_catalogs/masterpage/). Instead of opening or downloading the old version of the file, the page links to a display form window (/_catalogs/masterpage/Forms/DispForm.aspx?ID=X). The option to download the file is not available like it was when I downloaded a Word document from before.

2_FileVersionDownload3 2_FileVersionDownload4

There are some posts on the web that say if the file has a “Title” field the file can be downloaded or opened by clicking on the Title field value. I have found that this method does not work for most custom and system files in the master page gallery.


So the question is how can I view and download an older version of the file. Microsoft may have designed this behavior on purpose or maybe not, but that doesn’t answer the question. That can be answered using a server side tool named SharePoint Manager 2013 to find the URL to the previous file versions and download it. This tool is a must have for SharePoint administrators, developers, and the like. SharePoint Manager 2013 is a SharePoint object model explorer that  enables you to browse every site on the local farm and view every property. Follow these steps to the solution:

Step 1: Download SharePoint Manager 2013 from Codeplex at
Step 2: On a SharePoint server, extract and run the “SharePoint Manager 2013.exe”
Step 3: Drill down to: SPwebService > Web Applications > “Web Application” > Sites > “Site” > Folder > File > Versions. Here you will find all the versions of the file. If the file only has one version or versions are not enabled, the version tab will not contain information.
Step 4: Click on the version you want to download and copy the text in the URL field contained in the right column of the application.

Step 5: In a web browser of your choice, paste the file path you copied into the browser immediately after the root URL to your site or site collection. An example would look like this: /_vti_history/512/_catalogs/masterpage/Display Templates/Content Web Parts/Control_List.html


The file will should either download or prompt to be saved depending on what your browser of choice is. 2_FileVersionDownload7

There you have it. I hope you find this method to retrieve file versions from SharePoint helpful for your work and on you travels.

Have content publishing your way!

Publishing Model Determination

SharePoint Server 2013 has three ways that you can make published content available to users: *content deployment, author-in-place and cross-site publishing. Deciding which publishing method to use is an important step in planning publishing sites. The publishing method that you select will lead to additional planning steps, and some steps are unique to each method. Use the following flowchart to help you determine which publishing method to use:

Publishing model decision flowchart

Although cross-site publishing is the recommended method to use for making content available to multiple sites, it might not be the right method for your publishing solution. You should not use cross-site publishing if you do not plan to use variations with unique URLs, or publish to multiple sites, and you want to author content on the same site collection in which it is published. Use author-in-place instead.

*Content deployment is not listed in this diagram since it not recommended for enterprise content publishing architectures but is still a viable option for other scenarios.

Content Deployment Publishing

Content Deployment jobs are a native SharePoint functionality that allows to move (published / see it as a major version list item) content from an environment A to environment B. This is extremely handy when you need to work on the same content but deploy it on different network location (inside / outside DMZ) with their own security policies (eg: no write access at all in production).


  1. Database for Authoring site collection
  2. Authoring site collection. Authorized users edit content by authenticating via HTTPS URL. Content is only viewable to anonymous users once it is approved and published.
  3. Default SharePoint Content Deployment pushes content changes to publishing site every x minutes controlled by timer job.
  4. Database for Publishing site collection
  5. Publishing site collection. Anonymous users view only published content via HTTP URL.



  • Public preview of published anonymous accessible content.
  • Separate server farms can be used for authoring and publishing to meet security requirements.


  • Two physical copies of the same data. Increased hardware requirements to accommodate the duplicate data.
  • Anytime the content deployment chain is broken (site is deleted, recreated, content altered outside of content deployment) the destination and jobs have to be deleted and rebuilt.

 Author in Place Publishing

Uses a single site collection to author content and make it available to readers of your site. If you plan to publish only Pages library content, and you do not have to author on more than one site, or publish to more than one site, and you do not have a business need to author separately from your production environment, you should use author-in-place. If you must publish multilingual content, you can still use variations to make content available to sites in multiple languages or regions. Author-in-place is available in both SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Online.


  1. Single content database used for minimized overhead.
  2. Single site collection that is extended to enable multiple authentication methods.
  3. Authorized users edit content by authenticating via HTTPS URL. Content is only viewable to anonymous users once it is approved and published.
  4. Anonymous users view only published content via HTTP URL.



  • Fast publishing model. Once content is published, it will be available via the publishing site.
  • Reduced hardware and application overhead.
  • Reduced complexity compared to other models since content is never duplicated.


  • No public preview of published anonymous accessible content.
  • Governance plan controls for what and when content is published are critical.

Cross-site Publishing

Uses one or more site collections to author content, and one or more site collections to control the design of the site and the display of the content. If you want to separate your authoring and publishing environments, you should use cross-site publishing. If you plan to publish only Pages library content, but you want to author in more than one site, or publish to more than one site, you should also use cross-site publishing. Cross-site publishing is available only in SharePoint Server 2013.


  1. Content is created in libraries and lists that are shared as catalogs in the authoring site collection.
  2. The search system crawls the content and builds the search index.
  3. A user views a page on a publishing site, which triggers queries from Search Web Parts.
  4. Results are returned from the search index, and shown in Search Web Parts on the page.



  • Single source content can be reused in all publishing sites.
  • Dynamic content updates.


  • No public preview of published anonymous accessible content.
  • SharePoint search service is required to continuously crawl all sites.
  • Additional hardware resources.
  • More complex publishing model.


Plan for Internet, intranet, and extranet publishing sites in SharePoint Server 2013

Best practices for publishing sites (SharePoint Server 2010)