No, you cannot “remove” a revision history from a Google Doc

I was recently asked the question, “Do you know if students can change or delete revision history in Docs/Slides?  Thanks!”

docs sheets slides

After a bit of Googling, I found this on the Google Docs Product Forum. It basically describes this problem:

“I made a few changes to a document just to check a few numbers, but then was planning to simply close the doc to ensure the changes were not saved.  Now though, they appear as a permanent revision – not just that but they’re at the top of the list.  I had no intent of saving these changes at all, and it’s incredibly frustrating that they are “saved” for all others to view without any warning to me.  It seems to be a simple task – to add the ability to remove revisions (especially if it’s just a set of the latest ones) if you want to.  Is this being considered as an addition?  I really appreciate any feedback on this – it makes it difficult to use google drive as I would like to be able to make temporary edits (or even as others have said, view it without it saving non-change revisions).  Thank you!”

So I answered this:

“No, you cannot “remove” a revision history from a Google Doc.

For example, a principal sends me and a group of teachers a document, and wants us each to answer a question and fill in some data. I write a few snarky comments, and then think it might be better not to make those comments, so I delete them. Principal opens the document after all the teachers have filled in the doc, and looks at revision history. Whoops, maybe I should not have said that, even if I erased it. Those revisions are part of that document. Forever.
Along the same lines, a student may turn in a document to me, and I look at the revision history to see how long he’s been working. It shows he wrote for a few minutes, and then pasted a bunch of sentences. He then fixes the font and a few words, and turns it in as his own. I know it’s not, because I can see what he did.
Making a copy “kind of” fixes the revision history problem, but not really, because you would have to send out a new link, because it is essentially a new document. Making the document “View Only” also seems to remove the availability of the revision history.”
In Google Docs, it is not possible to make some changes or put in new numbers, without the owner of the doc being able to go back and view them. Think wisely before you edit or change anything. If you just want to play with the document, make a copy of it, and then make the changes in your own copy – not the original!
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