I cannot use Versions with Apple apps

If I try to access a prior version when using an Apple app such as TextEdit, by choosing Revert To and then Browse All Versions, the image with the older versions flashes on my screen and then immediately disappears. In its place I get an error message with a small image of a hard disk with three people holding hands. The text says 'There was a problem connecting to the server. URLs with the type “file:” are not supported." All I can do is click OK.

My iMac (2017, 10.14.6) is not networked to any server. This has been true since I got this iMac (running Sierra), and I believe on my prior iMac as well.

I’ve done searches on this. All the discussions I find are pretty old. It has been blamed on iCloud (my documents are stored locally), on Time Machine (I do not use it; it is turned off), or on permissions (which I can no longer fix easily).

Any ideas?

Unless I’m misunderstanding what you mean by “versions,” it’s Time Machine that provides that functionality.

Thank you for your reply, but perhaps I didn’t state my problem clearly. I’m referring to the ability to access previous versions of a document that I am actively working on, by using the Revert To and then Browse All Versions menu items. I am not referring to access to versions that have been copied from my main drive to a backup drive by the hourly Time Machine process.

Take Control of Using Mountain Lion, the first version of MacOS to incorporate versions, says on page 135 “Versions are saved on your boot disk, not on a separate disk, and are saved even if Time Machine is off.”

I reviewed some later articles here on TidBITS and none of them make mention of the requirement to have Time Machine turned on.

In addition, if Time Machine were required for versions, why wouldn’t the ability to revert be removed from the menu or at least grayed out? And if the menu item remained active, why not a plain English error message about the need to turn on Time Machine to enable the function?

I still don’t understand the reason for the error message I’m seeing.

That’s freaky. Can you post a screenshot of this (just drag it into a post)?

If you Control-click (right-click) on any of the documents names where does it tell you they are stored?

For me personally, with respect to TextEdit, my documents are stored in an assortment of locations, some of which are iCloud.

When I right-click on the file name at the top of the application window, it leads up to my boot drive and then my iMac.

Here is the image of the error message.

A random thing to try is to clear all the “recent” servers if any exist.

In the Finder press Command-K

Click the gear icon at the bottom left and select “Clear Recent Servers…”

I am not real optimistic about this but it seems to be an obscure problem you are suffering so perhaps this is worth a look.

Howard Oakley has done a lot of work with Versions and has written a bunch of good articles, such as:

version – The Eclectic Light Company

He also has two utilities, Revisionist and DeepTools, that may be heplful:

Revisionist & DeepTools – The Eclectic Light Company

I imagine that others have already asked, but there is nothing in the console or log?

@papagordie
Thank you, but the command “Clear Recent Servers…” is grayed out.

@gastropod
Thank you. I read some of his articles. I downloaded Revisionist and opened my small test document. It correctly listed the versions and allowed me to open them.

His articles mention the versions database folder .DocumentRevisions-V100. I used the terminal command to see its size, which is 4GB. He mentions that it is possible to delete that database so that the OS rebuilds it, but that it requires root access, which I am hesitant to utilize. (I do not have any versions that I need to save.)

However, if the database were corrupt, Revisionist presumably would have the same problem as the apps.

@bb1 Thank you. Probably this would help, but just reading Howard Oakley’s columns about the log scares me. My skills are such that it would take me a long time to work through the log, even with Howard’s tools, and the problem is not worth the effort to me. If there is no readily available answer, I will live with it. I now know that I can use Revisionist when I need to.

Since I saw mentions of this problem as long as five years ago, Apple presumably knows about it and is unwilling to fix it. I don’t see any point in filing a bug report.

Thanks again to all who answered.

The fact that it’s a file: URL in the error is somewhat interesting, but I can’t think of how it might be helpful. I wonder if a Spotlight database might have gotten corrupted, such that links to files stored within the Versions database are failing. But that’s really grasping at straws.

It would be worth setting up another account and seeing if you can replicate the problem there.