Five changes to make Microsoft Office saves more reliable

Losing recent work on a document is really frustrating so here are a few tips to make Office document saving more reliable, with less risk of loss if the computer or Office programs crash.  A few changes to Microsoft’s defaults can mean lower blood pressure for you.

Save AutoRecover every … minutes

The default setting for this is 10 minutes which is probably too long between AutoRecover and should be shortened to 5 minutes or even less.

The problem with AutoRecover is that the Office app will ‘pause’ for a moment when saving the recovery info. That’s barely noticeable for a small document but can be quite frustrating for a longer document. AutoRecover ‘freezes’ where more noticeable in years past. Today it’s less of a problem with faster computers, more memory and solid state drives. 

Despite the hardware improvements, Microsoft has left the AutoRecover time at 10 minutes which, in our view, it too long between saves on a modern machine.

That’s why we suggest reducing the AutoRecover time to, say, 5 minutes.  If you like, try an even lower value.  Find a balance between safety of regular AutoRecover and any interruption from them.

Ctrl + S as a habit

Long time Office users got into the habit of regularly pressing Ctrl + S to save the document, sheet or slide.  That was back when computers generally plus Word, Excel and PowerPoint where a lot less reliable than today.

Losing recent changes happened much more often and wary Office users got into the habit of pressing Ctrl + S regularly.

It’s not so important these days, but it’s a useful habit to consider, especially for locally saved documents.

Save All

An extension of hitting Save often is to use Save All instead. Save All will save all open documents, not just the one you’re working on.

On the toolbar

Add it to the Quick Access Toolbar from Customize Toolbar. Save All is on the list ‘Commands Not in the Ribbon’.

Save All, keyboard shortcut

Even better, assign a shortcut key to Save All, go to Customize Keyboard.

Save All is on the list ‘Commands Not in the Ribbon’ under ‘FileSaveAll’ (not just SaveAll).

Press the new shortcut key combo, any existing use of that shortcut will appear at left.  We’ve remapped Ctrl + S (Save) to Save All.

Save changes in: ‘Normal.dotm’ will make the shortcut work for all documents.

Assign: confirms the new shortcut.

Save everything to Microsoft’s cloud

Microsoft’s ‘solution’ is to save all your documents to OneDrive or Sharepoint, that will enable the AutoSave option in Microsoft 365 and Office 2021..

Modern AutoSave is only available for files saved to Microsoft’s cloud service.  There’s no good reason for that aside from Microsoft’s desire to force customers to their cloud services.  AutoSave could and should apply to all documents but Microsoft won’t allow it. How a new Word feature is really Microsoft’s insult to customers who won’t move to OneDrive

AutoSave add ons

There are several Auto Save macro/VBA solutions available. They extend the saving options available in Office itself, in particular to non-cloud storage.

We’ve not tested any of these but they come well recommended, in particular from Office Watcher, Ron S – thanks!

Graham Mayor has some useful extras.

His Autosave add-on will automatically save the current or all open document automatically – with or without a prompt.

Save in Two Places will automatically save the document to two places with options to add version or other details to the second copy.

DataNumen has a macro that does true saves to create periodic backups:

At the VBAExpress forum there’s VBA code to save as a Word file with current date/time.

About Microsoft Office AutoSave, AutoRecover and other save options
How a new Word feature is really Microsoft’s insult to customers who won’t move to OneDrive
Putting a Command on the Quick Access Toolbar

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