AutoSave Comes to Office 365


Starting September 2018, a new Office 365 AutoSave feature will be activated by default in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This is great for cloud collaboration and preventing data loss, but may require some adjustments to your current workflows.

What is AutoSave?

AutoSave will automatically save any Office document stored on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online every few seconds.

Changes are reflected almost instantly in the cloud, so others who share access to the file can stay up-to-date without you having to worry about saving or uploading the latest version of a Word doc, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation.

AutoSave appears in the upper-left corner of Office apps if you are an Office 365 subscriber, and you have the latest versions of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint for Windows or macOS installed.

How Does It Affect Me?

AutoSave comes with a few potential gotchas and new precautions, depending on how you like to work:

  • If you regularly use File > Save As after making changes to a document, Microsoft recommends using File > Save a Copy before editing. That way AutoSave won’t overwrite the original file with the changes.
  • If you start from an existing file, make edits and then Save a Copy to a new file, the changes will be saved in both files when AutoSave is on. Please Save a Copy first before making any changes.
  • If you open a file to do some hypothetical analysis (such as forecasting the impact of market changes on the budget), intending to close the file without saving, all the changes made will have been saved while AutoSave is on. Microsoft recommends turning off AutoSave (see below) while doing the hypothetical analysis and then turning it back on once you are ready to save again.
  • If you sort or filter an Excel spreadsheet while AutoSave is on this will affect the view for everyone else. If a file is meant to be a dashboard or used by multiple people with sorts and filters, Microsoft recommends setting the Read-Only Recommended property on that file using File > Info > Protect Workbook > Always Open Read-Only, so viewers of the dashboard won’t save their changes unless they explicitly choose to edit the file.
  • If you accidentally edit a finalized, published file with AutoSave on, your changes will get saved to the file. Once a file has been finalized, Microsoft recommends setting the Read-Only Recommended property or Mark as Final property on the file, so accidental edits from viewers and readers of the file won’t be saved.
  • If you are collaborating in real time on a document and do not have AutoSave enabled, an “Updates Available” button will continue to be displayed when changes are made by others.


Where’s the Off Switch?

There are various ways to disable or prevent AutoSave:

  • Set your documents to Always Open Read-Only to avoid accidental edits. This can be done by setting the file to open in Read-Only Recommended (File > Info > Protect Document/ Workbook/ Presentation > Always Open in Read-Only) or by Sharing the file without allowing others to edit (File > Share > People with the link can edit > Uncheck the “Allow Editing” box).
  • Turn AutoSave off for an individual file while it is open by clicking the AutoSave toggle, found at the top-left of the screen, above the Office Ribbon. This disables AutoSave for the current document for yourself only. The next time you open the document, AutoSave will be off. If you open a different document, AutoSave will not be affected by your choice in the other document.
  • Set AutoSave to be off by default for all files opened in a specific app (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) on your current device by unchecking the “AutoSave OneDrive and SharePoint Online files by default on [app name]” checkbox under File > Options > Save. Turning the AutoSave toggle on for an open file (see above) will override this setting.
  • For Office 365 customers who do not wish to use AutoSave by default across their organization, we can disable it at the admin level on an app-by-app basis for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Users will still have the ability to enable AutoSave on any document using the methods outlined above. Please contact us for more details


How Can I Undo AutoSave?

You may be able to restore a previous version of the file. This will establish that older version as the current version.

At the top of the Word/Excel/PowerPoint window, click the filename, and then click See all versions under Version History. Review the dates and times to find the version that you want to restore, and then click Open version. A second window will open. To roll back to this version, click the Restore button. Click here for more information on version history in Office 365 .

More FAQ

Find out more about Office 365 AutoSave in this Microsoft Support article