Why OS X 10.7 Lion’s Version Feature Will Simplify File Management

As part of the new auto-save feature of Apple’s new and forthcoming Mac OS X 10.7 Lion that we had previously reported about, Apple will also introduce a feature called Versions that will allow users through a timeline of the various edits and versions of a document they are looking at, which will help users track their edits through different revisions of the same file.

Versions records the evolution of a document as you create it. Mac OS X Lion automatically creates a version of the document each time you open it and every hour while you’re working on it. If you need to revert to an older version or retrieve part of a document, Versions shows you the current document next to a cascade of previous versions — in an interface similar to that of Time Machine — so you can see how your work looked at any given time. You can revert with a click, or quickly copy and paste work from a previous version into the current version.*

The benefit of Versions is that users can make multiple edits and saves to the same file name, like TheWordDocumentIAmCreating.docx, and all those different edits and saves will be viewable later on in case you need to revert back to or refer to a prior revision. This way, you don’t have to append your file name with revision and edit numbers, like TheWordDocumentIAmCreating-version-1.docx, followed by a version 2, 3, and so on. This way, users only need to save one file name and have all their saved revisions available to them later. Additionally, as part of the auto-save function, users can be sure that what they are working on gets automatically saved periodically so if the program crashes, they won’t lose everything.

The feature is very similar to that found on Apple’s automatic backup solution called Time Machine on the current OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard operating system. With Time Machine and a wireless hard drive solution like Apple’s Time Capsule, or when a user’s Mac is connected to a wired drive, Time Machine will also automatically save edits hourly–or when a user saves the document–and create various versions of the same document. Unlike Time Machine, Versions will be its own stand-alone feature, and from the looks of things, may not require a separate drive as it is meant to back-up previous revisions, not of the file. That said, users who are looking forward to using Versions are still advised to perform regular back-ups in the event of data loss.

For those who work on a number of documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, it’s nice to be able to retrieve old versions and edits easily in the event that you made a change that you didn’t like and had over-written the file when you saved last, or if you liked what you wrote on an earlier copy but deleted it down the road. With Versions, you can literally take a step back in history.

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