Software

What to do when Word won't let you redo

Did you know that if you use the cut command in Word, it can take away all the redos you've done up to that point? Mary Ann Richardson explains how to backtrack even when Word won't let you redo.

IT pros often assume they can do almost anything to Word documents and then fall back on undo and redo if they get into trouble. Whatever we try to do with our document, it seems that undo can always get it back to where we want it; that is until one day we click on the redo button and it tells us "Can't redo." While you can have an unlimited number of undos and redos, Word's Cut command can wipe out all redos in a second.

For example, suppose you click the Undo button five times on a page. Then, you cut and paste a paragraph from another page. You change your mind and decide to redo everything to get it back to where it was before the cut and paste. Unfortunately, the Cut command totally clears the Redo list. If you saved the file before you performed the undo operations, you can close the file without saving, and then open the saved file with all your past edits intact. If you haven't saved the file up to the last cut and paste, you will have to begin all over again. The bottom line is: Even with "unlimited" undos and redos, don't forget to save your documents on a regular basis.

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25 comments
kemosabe18
kemosabe18

This article is about as good as someone telling another person who plays RPG games to save often. I mean, it's practical, makes sense, but unfortunately not very insightful. I would have never posted an article like this and just kept the thought to myself.

steinar
steinar

Very nice....just like the chicken and egg question!

AtCollege
AtCollege

Redo should not be called Redo, it should be called Undo the Undo. All of the users I train immediately get the concept of Undo the Undo, but not Redo.

yogi_john
yogi_john

I think the versions command would be a better way to address this issue than saving the file. I admit, though, that I rarely use versions, even though it would make sense to on things like quality procedures where a copy of a superseded procedure is desired for historical purposes. I'm curious whether anyone uses the versions command or is it one of those little used features that contributes to software bloat?

fjames
fjames

Think of it as walking down a trail. You carry out some action, like walking 100 steps forward. Now, you "UnDo" 95 of those steps. You're back at the end of step 5. There is a clear meaning to "Re-Do", at this point. However, take one more action (say, turn to the left and take a step off the path.) What's the meaning of "Re-Do" now? Where would 95 steps forward get you? Suppose you undo that last step to the left. What does ReDo mean now? It's the same thing with Word. As long as you've done nothing but UnDo and Re-Do, you're going backwards and forwards along a single, well-defined path. But, if you undo, and then just type a single character (or, do a cut, or format something, or do anything else to modify the document), there is no longer a meaning to "Re-Do".

Waldon
Waldon

Most of the tips in these articles are simple, but I look at them as suggestions or reminders related to the stated subject matter. This one, however, is completely meaningless.

zunk
zunk

Is this even worth posting!!! Where is the tip?

zeead.elaheebocus
zeead.elaheebocus

So basically, the article says theres nothing to do..............

kohl
kohl

I found saving the file as filenameVnn.doc, with nn=01, 02, etc., worked better for me for historical versions than Words "Version" did and it is a natural, not limited to Word, and useful regardless of the application used to develop the file. For situations intermediate between the original tip and the use of versions (for example, if, in my development of a file, I am going to make a major change in the file or the direction of the development, or introduce something that might make the file unstable), I save the file and then click on my "+1" custom button which runs a macro (in Word and in Excel) that saves the file name with the character "1" added to the filename portion, as in filename1.ext . I then proceed with the change or introduction. You can repeat this as needed, filename11.ext, etc., or go off in a different direction using Save As for filename2.ext and then filename21.ext, and so forth.

wlhelms
wlhelms

Instead of using the cut and paste option I find that highlighting the paragraph, copying with a , once copied use the backspace key to delete the highlighted paragraph. This keeps your UNDO items available to you.

yogi_john
yogi_john

fjames hit it on the head: redo only works to undo an undo--it must know what was undone. The article indicates you have to save the file prior to the undos. I suspect few people would think: "I don't like what I just did. I'll undo it, but I'll save the file first in case I change my mind later and decide that I like it this way better than I like what I've already saved to file." This would have been a great opportunity to introduce the versions command. But it still begs the question of why would I go through the effort of saving a version that I just decided I don't like?

sandeleh
sandeleh

i'm pretty sure i've been able to undo the delete command. i hardly ever use the ctl-x (cut) command. so perhaps the "tip" is to use delete instead of ctl-x.

No name specified
No name specified

In reality, ANYTHING that you do after Undo, will erase the Redo list, simply because the program thinks that you no longer want to go in the previous direction. As a matter of fact, if you type something, hilite and bold, underline, and change font color, then undo the color and the underline, manually underline again (don't use Redo) and the last Redo will have disappeared. Just think about it, how many different directions should it try to keep? "I'll undo this and try that... no, let me add this and then redo 2 things... hmm, no, let me undo 4, add 3 things and then redo what I had done the first time around." ?!?!?! Is this what you expect Word to remember how to do????? Try this in Internet Explorer. Visit a site, click on several links, click the Back button (the "Forward" button activates) half of the way out, and now click on a different link--you will see the Forward button go gray. Raise your hand if you do not see the logic in the futility of trying to remember N number of different paths that you might take and then knowing how to take some part of any of them, at random, all over again. The fix to this is not knowing how to fix it, but in knowing NOT to fall in that trap.

cecilbuford
cecilbuford

The TIP was, that you are suppose to save you document before you cut and paste. That way you can close the document without saving it and then reopen the one you have already saved.

pmjordan
pmjordan

I read that only if you do a SAVE prior to a cut you can then restore your original text.

pweegar
pweegar

If you undo all of the pastes you have made, then redo/undo typing is again available, at least in Word 2003. Also, if you enter text after a cut/paste operation, the newly typed text CAN be redo/undo works. It appears that the redo/undo functions work depending on the last action performed. I.E IF you undo typing, you can then redo it. Same with a paste operation. Paste can be undone or you can redo it. Remove the last paste and the typing undo/redo works. Finally, if you close (or save and close) a document then reopen it, the previous paste redo/undo is no longer avaible.

kuntala.david
kuntala.david

I have just checked this article by making several editorial changes to a Word 2003 document followed by a cut and paste (^x and ^v) from another page and all the changes can still be undone

looneyracer08
looneyracer08

I use a lot of the keyboard shortcuts to do most of my editing in MS Word 2003 SP2. (i.e cntrl + c; cntrl + x; cntrl + v.. etc..) I have never came across a situation where my redo or undo option (cntrl + z or y) does not work. I think this article pertain to older version of MS Word. :)

kcmplex
kcmplex

A better title: "Always save before doing a cut/paste operation, because cut/paste will reset the redo list", and forgo the body. Sorry, I'm grumpy today.

yogi_john
yogi_john

Call your original document version 1. After your editorial changes you have version 2. The article says that if you undo (back to v. 1) and then do a cut and paste you will be unable to redo and come back to v. 2. If I understand your statement, you are doing a cut and paste to v. 2 and can then undo one step and return to v. 2. That is different.

tbuie
tbuie

No need to apologize. I agree that the title was misleading and led to unrealized hopes. Your statement, however, is clear and succinct.

cregan
cregan

I was expecting insight into hidden functionality within Word that would reveal the existence of some extensibility in the default 'undo' command. This was not the case in this "post". The post was obviously posted without professional editorial review.

ESchlangen
ESchlangen

This is not a problem with Word. Word is still behaving exactly as it always has. The problem is with this useless article and it's misleading title.

Round One from VA
Round One from VA

Most IT pros know about the save/don't save procedure for returning to an un-edited version. From the title, I was expecting some insight into how I could force Word to cough up previous (and now missing) undos. Guess I expect too much. I hate Word, but have been using it for way too long.

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