How to Undo Changes in WordPress: 5 Key Methods Covered

Ever had that “oh no!” moment where you accidentally made the wrong edit, broke something, or deleted some important piece of content from your WordPress site? 

…or maybe even all three at the same time if it’s a really bad day?

No matter how careful you are when working on your site, it’s going to happen at some point – and you’re definitely not alone.

Don’t worry, though! WordPress gives you lots of options for undoing changes. 

So whether you just need to fix a single blog post or you have a broader issue on your site, you can undo those changes and get your site back to how it was before.

In this detailed post, you’re going to learn how to undo changes in WordPress using all the available methods. That way, you’ll know exactly what to do if you ever run into that “oh no” moment on your site.

How to Undo Changes in WordPress: Five Different Methods

You have a lot of options for how to undo changes in WordPress. 

The approach that you choose depends on the scope of the changes that you want to undo.

Below, you’ll find five solutions for how to undo changes in WordPress. Here’s a brief summary of each method – keep reading for detailed instructions:

  1. Undo/redo button or keyboard shortcuts – use these to undo one or more edits that you just made in the WordPress editor. This is handy if you accidentally make a mistake or two in your current editing session.
  2. WordPress revision system – use this to restore content to a previous version. You can also compare different versions of your content to see how things have changed. This works great if you want to see how a post has changed over time and restore it to how it looked in a previous editing session.
  3. Restore deleted content from Trash – use this to restore a piece of content that you accidentally deleted.
  4. Backups and restore – use this to restore your entire site to a previous point in time. This can be helpful if you need to undo broader sitewide changes.
  5. Plugin rollbacks – use this to roll back a plugin to a previous version. This can be helpful if you just updated a plugin and the new version is causing issues on your site for some reason.

Undo Individual Actions in the Editor

The most targeted option for undoing changes is to undo one or more actions that you’ve taken in your current editing session in the WordPress editor.

That is, you do something in the editor and you want to immediately undo that specific action.

Here are some common examples of when this can be useful:

  • You accidentally deleted a paragraph / block that you want to keep
  • You just changed the formatting of a piece of text but you don’t like how it looks
  • You accidentally uploaded the wrong image or duplicated the wrong block

To undo these actions, you have two options:

  1. Undo button
  2. Keyboard shortcuts

You can find the undo button in the top-left corner of the editor. To undo the most recent action that you’ve taken, all you need to do is give it a click.

If needed, you can click it again to undo the action before that as well, and so on.

You’ll also find a redo button next to the undo button. 

If you accidentally undo a change that you want to keep, you can just click the redo button to make that change again. In a way, the redo button lets you “undo” the undo button.

As an alternative to the undo/redo buttons, you can also use keyboard shortcuts to undo and redo changes:

  • Windows – “Ctrl + Z” to undo changes / “Ctrl + Y” to redo changes.
  • macOS – “Cmd + Z” to undo changes / “Cmd + Shift + Z” to redo changes.

These keyboard shortcuts work in both the regular WordPress editor as well as the classic TinyMCE editor.

The key thing to understand with both of these methods is that they only work for changes that you just made in your current editing session.

If you want to revert back to changes from a longer time period (e.g. a previous writing/editing session), you’ll want to use the WordPress revision system, which is the next method on the list.

Use the WordPress Revision System to Restore Previous Versions of Content

If you want to undo changes that go further back than your most immediate actions, you can use the built-in WordPress revision system.

Every time you save, update, or publish a piece of content, WordPress will store that version of the content as a revision.

Using the revision system, you can go back and do two things:

  1. Compare that revision to the current version of the post (or to a different revision) so that you can see what’s different between the two. This helps you track how a piece of content has changed over time and find the version that you’re looking for.
  2. Restore any revision to roll back your content to how it looked at that moment in time.

WordPress will automatically create a new revision entry in two situations:

  1. Every time you save, update, or publish a piece of content, WordPress will store a revision.
  2. WordPress will store one “autosave” version of your content even if you don’t save your changes. This contains any changes you’ve made in your current editing session even if you don’t click the button to save your changes.

WordPress Trivia

Q: When did WordPress first offer the Revision System?


A: This highly-useful feature first appeared on July 14, 2006 in WordPress version 2.6. As of the publication date of this article, that’s 16 years of heroic content rescues. Nice!

How to Open the WordPress Revision System

To open a piece of content’s revision history, launch the editor for that piece of content inside your WP Admin.

Then, click the Revisions option, which appears in the Post tab settings. It’s normally immediately below the Summary box.

This should launch you into the WordPress revision system.

If you don’t see this option, that means that your post doesn’t have any revisions yet. Or, it might mean that you’ve disabled revisions – more on that next.

If you’re using the older classic TinyMCE editor, you’ll still want to click the Revisions option, but it will be in a slightly different place (pictured below).

How to View and Compare Revisions

The WordPress.com revision system gives you two different views:

  1. Unified – this shows you the single version of your content that you’ve selected using the sidebar.
  2. Split – this compares the version that you’ve selected to the previous version so that you can see changes.

To select a version of your content, you can click on it in the sidebar.

The sidebar also notes the basic changes in each version:

  • A green plus sign indicates content that’s been added.
  • A red minus sign indicates content that’s been deleted.

For example, “+11 -2” indicates that there were 11 instances of added content and 2 instances of deleted content. 

For more detail, the live preview of that version will show you the exact changes that were made.

Here’s an example of the Unified view – note how the preview highlights the changes:

And then here’s what Split view looks like – note how you now see two different versions of the content:

Note – the interface will be slightly different for self-hosted WordPress sites, but the basic principles remain the same.

How to Restore Revisions

Once you’ve found the right version of your content, you can click the Load button to load that version into the editor.

Note – if you’ve already published the post, clicking the Load button will not update the live version of your post. If you want to make the restored version of your content live, you need to click the Update button, just like you were updating any other post.

How to Control How Many Revisions WordPress Stores

By default, WordPress will store unlimited revisions for each piece of content.

However, if you’re constantly making small changes to your content, this can lead to a lot of clutter where you might have dozens or even hundreds of revisions for a single piece of content.

To avoid this, some WordPress users like to limit the number of revisions that WordPress stores for each piece of content. For example, you could have WordPress store a maximum of 10 revisions. After that, WordPress would delete the oldest revision when saving a new one.

If you want to limit the number of revisions, you can install a free plugin like WP Revisions Control.

If you feel comfortable working with code, you can also limit WordPress revisions by adding the following code snippet to your site’s wp-config.php file.

define( 'WP_POST_REVISIONS', 10 );

You can adjust the number in the code snippet according to your preferences. In the example above, this code snippet would tell WordPress to store a maximum of 10 revisions.

Note: To avoid revision overload, WordPress.com limits the number of revisions available to 100 on plugin-enabled plans and 25 on other plans.

Rescue Deleted Content from the Trash

At some point in your time using WordPress, you’ll probably accidentally delete a piece of content that you didn’t actually want to delete.

This could be a blog post, a page, a comment from one of your readers, and so on.

Seeing it disappear can be scary – but don’t worry!

Deleting content in WordPress doesn’t permanently delete it…at least not at first. Instead, it moves it to the Trash, much like how deleted files go to the Trash on macOS or the Recycle Bin on Windows.

Until you permanently empty the trash, you always have the option to restore a piece of deleted content.

Here’s how to access your deleted content and restore something you accidentally deleted:

  1. Open your WP Admin and go to the main list page for the type of content that you want to restore. For example, if you accidentally deleted a blog post, you would go to the Posts menu in your WP Admin.
  2. Navigate to the Trashed tab.
  3. Click the three-dot icon next to the post that you want to restore.
  4. Select Restore from the drop-down.

Once you do that, that blog post will reappear as a draft. To make it live on your site again, you’d need to go in and click the Publish button just like you were publishing a new post.

Use Site Backups and Restores to Undo Sitewide Changes

So far, all of these methods have been focused on undoing changes for a specific piece of content, whether that’s a single action you performed in the editor or rolling things back to a previous version of the post.

However, you might run into situations where you need to undo changes on a broader, more sitewide scale.

For example, if you’ve installed plugins on your site, you might’ve changed a plugin’s settings or edited its content in a way that’s no longer working. In this case, you might be looking for a way to revert back to your old configuration.

The same can be true of your theme, sitewide settings, and plenty more.

If you’re taking regular backups of your site (or using a service like WordPress.com that handles backups for you), then you can fix all of these issues by restoring a recent backup from before you made the changes that you want to undo.

There’s one very important thing to understand when it comes to using backups and restores, though:

When you restore your site to one of its backups, it will revert everything back to how it was at the time of the backup. For example, if you published a blog post after the time of the backup, that blog post would disappear if you restored your site to the backup. The same holds true for comments from visitors, pages, and so on.

If you’re using a WordPress.com plugin-enabled plan, the built-in backup system lets you avoid this by letting you choose a specific restore point based on all the actions you take on your site. 

For example, you could choose to restore after you published that blog post but before you changed a plugin’s settings.

You can find these backup points by going to Jetpack → Backup in your WP Admin:

However, if you’re using a different backup system (such as a backup from your web host in the case of self-hosted WordPress sites), you’ll probably only be able to restore to a specific day, in which case you’ll need to be a bit more careful in choosing your restore point.

Roll Back Plugins or Themes to Older Versions

If you’re using a WordPress.com plan that lets you install your own custom plugins or themes, your site might experience issues after updating your WordPress theme or plugins in some situations.

For example, the plugin’s developer might have changed a feature in the new update that causes problems on your site. In that case, you might want to “undo” the plugin update so that you can go back to the older version until you find a fix.

Now, if you have a recent backup of your site, one way to fix this is to just restore that backup. However, as discussed above, restoring your site to a previous backup might undo more than just the plugin update.

For a more targeted fix, you might want to just downgrade or “roll back” that plugin or theme to the previous version that wasn’t causing issues.

To accomplish this, you have two options:

  1. You can install the free WP Rollback plugin, which lets you easily roll back any plugin that’s listed in the WordPress.org plugin directory.
  2. You can manually upload the older version of the plugin, which lets you also roll back any premium plugins that you might be using.

WP Rollback Plugin

To use the WP Rollback plugin, get started by installing the plugin on your site. If you’d like some help with that, check out the guide on how to install plugins on WordPress.com.

Next, head to Plugins → Installed Plugins in your WP Admin.

You should now see a new Rollback option next to all the plugins that are available in the WordPress.org directory.

Manually Upload an Older Plugin Version

If you’d like to roll back a plugin that’s not listed in the WordPress.org directory, you can manually upload an older version of the plugin to roll back to that version.

To do this, just install the older version of the plugin like you were installing a new plugin. Fully installing the older version of the plugin will automatically overwrite the existing version.

Say Goodbye to “Oh No!” Moments for Good

Every WordPress user will have an “oh no!” moment at some point. But now that you know how to undo changes in WordPress, these situations don’t need to cause any stress.

Instead, all you need to do is use one of the methods above to undo the changes and get your site back to how you want it to be.

Most of these methods are available to all WordPress users. For example, every WordPress user can benefit from the undo button and the WordPress revision system.

However, if you want the most flexibility for undoing changes on your site, consider the WordPress.com plugin-enabled plans to access the automatic backup and one-click rewind feature.

With these plans, WordPress.com will automatically backup each individual edit that you make to your site and let you easily restore to any edit point with just a few clicks. 

To get started, upgrade your plan today. Or, head to the Backups and Restores page to learn more about how this feature can help you undo changes on your site.


Less Worry. More Peace of Mind.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The WordPress.com Team

At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time. Create a free website or build a blog with ease on WordPress.com. Dozens of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes.

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