How To Undo On Windows (Windows XP, 7, 8, and 10)

We show you how to undo on Windows using either the Edit menu in the application menu bar, or by using the Ctrl+Z keyboard shortcut.


We have all had this experience before – it’s late at night and you’re finishing up the last paragraph of an epic email or literary masterpiece, you go to save so that you can get a drink or watch a cat video — and suddenly, your text is gone. Maybe your palm grazed the touchpad and accidentally selected the entire document just before you pressed a key, maybe it was just karma catching up with you — but whatever the reason, a panic sets in. Just as you are about to destroy your computer in a fit of rage and cry to the heavens, you remember — the all mighty magic of undo. And presto – just like that, all of your hard work is back.

First, a quick crash course in the miracle of undo and redo (if you are already familiar with the magic, scroll down to the next section for usage details). In short, just as the name implies, undo will reverse whatever action you just took, whether that was accidentally erasing an email or the last paragraph of an important document, moving a file into a different folder, entering numbers into a spreadsheet cell, or overdoing the contrast on an image in your image editing program.

Almost any software program you use on your computer will have the undo feature, and many of them include the ability to undo multiple times in order to reverse several recent actions. Up next we will cover the two primary means of performing an undo — from the Edit menu in the application menu bar, and by pressing Ctrl+Z on the keyboard.

How To Undo On Windows using Edit Menu or Keyboard Commands

Just as with any Microsoft Office software program or most Windows in general, you can use standard Edit menu selection or keyboard commands to perform undo and redo actions. If you go the menu route, there are two menu styles that Windows apps typically use: the standard ‘File Edit View…’ application menu bar, and the newer v ribbon drop-down menu.

How to undo on Windows using the menu selection:

  1. Select the Undo item from the application’s Edit menu, or
  2. Select the Undo item from the application ribbon v dropdown menu.

The keyboard commands will work the same way as selecting the menu item, making it a very quick way to undo. Note that certain actions cannot be undone with either method, such as saving a document.

How to undo on Windows using keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Press Ctrl+Z for undo.
  2. Press Ctrl+Y for redo.

And if you’re curious, to perform the same commands on a Mac:

  1. Press Cmd ⌘+Z for undo.
  2. Press Cmd ⌘+Y for redo.

You may have noticed that we also mention redo above. Some applications will also give you the ability to redo — to undo an undo essentially, and un-reverse whatever you may have just reversed. If available, the Keyboard shortcut for redo is Ctrl+Y; if you prefer to use the menu, you will find redo next to undo in the Edit menu.

If you want to know how to undo on other devices, check out the other articles on our site for more information. Happy undo-ing.