How to undo sort in Excel after save

In this article I will guide you on how you can revert changes in Excel after saving.

Unfortunately, once you have saved an Excel file after sorting, there is no built-in “undo” feature to undo the sort. However, there are a few potential workarounds that you can try:

Use the “Undo” feature: Depending on how long ago you sorted the data and saved the file, you may be able to use Excel’s built-in “Undo” feature to undo the sort. To do this, click on the “Undo” button in the Quick Access Toolbar (or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z). This will undo the most recent action, so if sorting was the last thing you did before saving, this should undo the sort. Note that the “Undo” feature only works for a limited number of actions, so if you’ve made a lot of changes since sorting, this may not work.

Use a backup or previous version: If you have a backup of the file or a previous version saved, you may be able to revert to that version and retrieve the unsorted data. To do this, open the backup or previous version and save it with a different name or in a different location so that you don’t overwrite the sorted file.

Manually undo the sort: If neither of the above options work, you may need to manually undo the sort. To do this, select the sorted range of cells, click on the “Sort & Filter” button in the “Editing” section of the Home tab, and choose “Custom Sort” from the dropdown menu. In the “Sort” dialog box, change the “Sort by” dropdown to “Row Number” (or another column that has not been sorted), and click “OK”. This should undo the sort and restore the original order of the data.

Note that these solutions may not always work, so it’s important to make sure you have a backup of important data before making any changes. Additionally, to avoid accidentally saving a sorted file in the future, you can consider using Excel’s “Sort Warning” feature, which alerts you if you try to save a file that has been sorted. To turn on this feature, go to the “File” tab, click on “Options”, choose “Advanced” from the menu on the left, and under the “Editing options” section, check the box next to “Warn before sorting or deleting cells”.

Undoing sort in Excel by using Ctrl + Z keys

Ctrl + Z is the most commonly used method to undo your previous steps. This method is best used immediately after applying the sort command before closing your worksheet.

Sorted data in Excel

Just press your keyboard keys Ctrl + Z after sorting out your data.  This will help to return the document to the state that it was in.

Undo sort using CTRL+Z shortcut

Undo sort after saving using a helper column

You can easily undo a sort and revert your data to its original state by adding a temporary tracker column. To be able to unsort your data in Excel, you will need a reference that you can use to go back to your original dataset.  The helper column will track all the rows.

1. In an open Excel worksheet, right-click on the leftmost column.

2. In the given list, click on the insert column option. Doing this will insert a blank column on the left side of your data set.

3. Type 1 and 2 in the temporary column.

4. Double-click the fill handle to fill the number down to the other cells in the column.

5. Select Series from the Auto Fill options menu to create a sequential list of numbers in the temporary column. Your data will be numbered in a sequential manner (1, 2, 3….100)

create a helper column in Excel

6. On the main menu ribbon, click on the Data tab.

7.  select Filter.

8. Click the icon right below any column header

9. Select an option. Either choose Sort Z to A or Sort A to Z or 


10. Click enter button on your keyboard. All the serial numbers will be dispersed.

sorted data with helper column

11. To undo this, navigate to the Data tab. Under Sort & Filter , choose Clear, which will help undo the sort. Doing this, you will notice your data is not reverted to its original state.

12. To undo changes, click the arrow icon under the helper column

13. Pick Sort Smallest to Largest option.

Sort from the smallest to the largest

Choose expand the selection.

Expand the sort selection

14. Click the Sort button. The command will revert your data into its original state. You can now delete the helper column

How to undo sort

Download the Practice sheet

undo sort after save practice sheet

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2 thoughts on “How to undo sort in Excel after save”

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with the “clear” command. It’s true that it doesn’t undo the sort and restore the original sort after save, which can be frustrating. The best way to do it is using a helper column, restoring the file to previous version or manually.

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