How can I move a document into a sub-folder and still maintain its version history from the old location in the new location?


Providing you are using SharePoint 2010, you can move the files, with history, using the 'Open with Windows Explorer' functionality.

  • Unfortunately, I'm on SharePoint 2007. – WilliamKF Apr 9 '11 at 23:05
  • SharePoint 2007 has the same functionality (it's under the Action menu of document libraries). I don't have an SP2007 installation handy to see if it maintains version history when moving. – Sean Earp Apr 12 '11 at 23:10
  • SP2007 does not move the history of a file, at least not the last time I checked. – Jeroen Ritmeijer - Muhimbi Apr 13 '11 at 5:17

Consider using Chris O'Brien's Sharepoint Content Deployment Wizard: http://www.sharepointnutsandbolts.com/2007/12/introducing-sharepoint-content.html

It can be found on CodePlex.


If you copy it using the Manage Content Tool from Site Actions doesn't that maintain the old copy and its history where it is? If you are only moving one or two files I wouldn't think you'd need more than that.

  • Not sure what you mean by 'copy it only', please elaborate. – WilliamKF Apr 8 '11 at 16:09
  • Sorry, meant copying it using the Manage Content Tool, it's the Explorer like interface into the content. I have a customized version but I think you would still get there through the Site Actions/Manage Content and Structure option in the drop down. – MichaelF Apr 8 '11 at 19:18

One approach would be to use a content migration tool such as Metavis http://www.metavistech.com/ which enables you to move/copy files and lists while keeping version histories.

  • When you suggest commercial software please mention that. Thanks. – SPDoctor Sep 12 '13 at 8:26

You can also try the free edition of CopyMove for SharePoint 2007. It maintains the full version history and Metadata on documents that you copy or move.

  • When you suggest commercial software please mention that. Thanks. – SPDoctor Sep 12 '13 at 8:26

If you are within the same document library, and just moving folders, then Actions->Open With Windows Explorer will do the trick. You can also use the Site Content and Structure interface from the Site Settings page.

As long as the document is in the same document library it will retain history. For peace of mind,test this with a simple text file before you make any big changes.


Nope. Not in SP 2010. I've opened a library in Explorer but when trying to move files to another library but I keep getting the message "Can't read from source file or disk". This simply does not work, and as an administrator who could move the files using designer or the Manage Content and Structure interface, it is not a problem for me. It is a problem for the many users I have and that I need to provide the ability of moving documents and retaining the version history. I don't have time to spend moving other people's documents for them, and they resent having to ask me to do so. It's a lose-lose.

Sadly, nothing I am finding allows for what seems to me to be a critical need for SP end-users: namely, to move documents -- with version history -- between libraries using the front-end interface. This causes a critical roadblock in the SP roll-out that I am administrating, and could derail my project's efforts to gain user acceptance for the product. Not to rant, but...this shows how tone-deaf Microsoft is to end-users, and suggests that their software development processes do a poor job of real-world user testing. Bottom line: Microsoft needs to get off its butt and provide a solution for this, otherwise the refrain from actual users of SP will continue to be "Yes, they make us use SharePoint at the office, but I hate it and it sucks."


I have attempted several methods to "move" lists and sites around through SP2007 and SP2010. The one that gives me the best results has been using either STSADM command syntax or PowerShell. My preference is powershell.

The problem I faced in all of my "moves" was I want to keep all list relationship history and references without them being updated by me (as an IT guy versus the actual owning user). As an IT resources we are stewards of data in most cases not owners and if we moved a file on a file system we would not be taking ownership (like using a copy and paste command). SharePoint provides a nice interface but assumes if you do something through the interface you own it, even if its a housekeeping effort.

We in IT know we are responsbile for the housekeeping actions when we do this but users are the ones who don't like seeing their object-ownership taken away by someone who may not be in the food chain of the document approval process. This is why I like the method I describe below. I am not discounting the template method or the Explorer move methods, I just find them useful under other circumstances than an administrators organizational management and housekeeping.

You may want to run a browser search through MSFT or other references to verify...please remember this is run through the PowerShell interface but can also be run through a series of STSADM commands.

To Move or a Export List/Site and Import List/Site (note this also works with entire site moves but I'm focusing on list move here; i.e. document lists)

Export-SPWeb -Identity "http://yoursharepoint.site" -Path "d:\fileornetworkpathforyourexportfile\listnamebeingexported.cmp" -ItemUrl "http://yoursharepoint.site/subsite/listname" -IncludeUserSecurity -IncludeVersions 4 -NoFileCompression    

Import-SPWeb -identity  "http://yourtargetsharepoint.site" -path "d:\fileornetworkpathforyourexportfile\listnameexported"  -includeusersecurity -nofilecompression 

NOTE: the commands are relatively simple and but the results can be painful if the switches are not used {-includeversions 4} is the max number of whole versions SP can move {-nofilecompression} is recommended so you won't possibly lose data in the compressed data (this can happen and is an MSFT sharepoint known issue)

After all this is just my opinion on how to do this...

Best of luck in your move...


In 2007 it DOES work here:

  • In the top menu select "Action"; "Open with Windows Explorer"
  • You get a new IE window showing the same files/folders but with a simpler representation.
  • WITHIN this window you can browse and drag/drop or cut (Cntl X) /paste (Cntrl V) files.
  • Once done, close it and you'll see that the original Sharepoint window is updated: Files are moved WITH their history versions

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