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Highlighted
Marli van Staden
Occasional Contributor

As an independent financial modeller, I work on Microsoft One Drive as it ensures that my work is automatically backed up. This worked well for me until the new Excel AutoSave feature was enabled.

 

Am I the only one frustrated by this? As a financial model developer, I frequently save new versions of the models I develop using a labelling system. In between saving these new versions, I do also save existing workbooks frequently. However, what I do not want, is Excel saving my work automatically. Why? Because I sometimes test assumptions which I may or may not then want to keep permanently. Maintaining control of the 'Save' function is therefore crucial.

 

Now, I am aware that I can disable the AutoSave feature...BUT I cannot do this at a global level. Therefore, I have to do it for each file individually. Now, while I do this for all my new files, I have a litany of old models which I keep as an audit trail. If I now access these, the AutoSave is automatically enabled...meaning that often before I can even disable this, Excel saves the file again...meaning I lose the time stamp which used to show me when the last time was I worked on that file (which is very valuable information to me).

 

Am I the only person experiencing this problem? Am I missing some obvious trick? It feels to me that the AutoSave feature in its current form provides a safety net for people who do not save their work frequently (which is good) but without providing a workaround for others who already have a systematic approach in place.

 

32 Replies

Hi @Marli van Staden,

 

You've got an option that may help. I'm assuming that you are using Excel and not Excel online to disable to autosave.

 

In File -> Version History you can find all the different versions of the document. This is where you can find the exact time for each version as well.

 

Within File Options -> Save you will find these options too:

Autosave.PNG

I've tried these option and it seems that these settings are now simply ignored. It might be owrth it to send the feedback on this to Microsoft.

 

 

 

 

 

To disable AutoSave on a given machine through the Windows registry, see:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4036334/how-to-disable-autosave-in-office-365-proplus

Hope it helps...

Thanks, but I'm afraid that method indeed only allows me to do it one file at a time...which does not solve my problem for older files (because each time I access an old file, the file might be automatically saved even before I can disable the feature, meaning I lose the true 'last saved' details).

Thanks, but that method deals with AutoRecover rather than AutoSave...I do not want to change my AutoRecover feature, which is still very important to me...I want to stop Excel from saving over the files that I am currently working on (i.e. I want to maintain control of the timing of when I press 'Save'). This can be disabled easily for each file at a time, but the feature cannot be disabled at a global level for all Excel files, which is what is causing my frustration. 

So then the only option is to use the version history. In the version history you can find the time that the document was previously saved. I agree that it is a bit painful. 

@Marli van Staden

Not sure to understand what you mean...

That method completely (i.e. globally) disables the AutoSave feature for the relevant app (namely, Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Hence when afterward you will open an old file, no AutoSave at all will be performed, and this holds true for EVERY file.

So, edit the registry and, just to be sure, reboot the machine. From that moment on, the behavior of the relevant app should be exactly the same as it was before the AutoSave feature was introduced.

Hope it helps...

What version are you running, I'm on first release slow (Targeted) 1711.8730.2102 and I just did a trial with the following results.

 

Basically open new spreadsheet, slide the Autosave slider to off, save the file manually to onedrive. Closed the file. Opened the file again ... and the Autosave stayed off. It now stays off unless I slide it to the on position.

 

So seems to work for me.

 

 

Ah sorry, I see now - I only looked as far as the Summary where it says

'This feature applies to each document. It can't be disabled on the application level.'

 

I have now followed the steps lower down on the link, but once I get here:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel

I can't find 'DontAutoSave'...I can only see something labelled 'AutoSaveInterval'.

(Admittedly this is my first time hanging out in the registry, so I have no clue what I am doing...

Yes, but that slider will only work for that specific file. If you open another file, for which you have not disabled it yet, it will be switched to 'On' again...which is what I am trying to avoid

Yes that is true, for me that works because most of the time I want it on, as I am collaborating and need it to work that way. The process is not difficult though.

Solution

HI @Marli van Staden.

First of all, before editing the registry be EXTREMELY careful!

If you make a mistake you can render the machine unusable.

(You should also make a backup of the registry before modifying it.)

All this said, if you want to try, you have to ADD the "DontAutoSave" key inside "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel". The key type should be DWORD and its value should be 1.

Also, as an introduction to editing the registry, you can give a look to https://www.howtogeek.com/school/using-windows-admin-tools-like-a-pro/lesson5/

Hope it helps...

Thank you - that makes sense...although it sounds risky for a novice like me to start dabbling in the registry. Perhaps I will wait and see if Microsoft creates a 'safer' solution sometime soon :)

It's not really as difficult as it sounds.

  1. Click on the circle beside the Windows Start button in lower left corner - it's the Cortina icon.  Or you may  have a box that says "Type here to Search"
  2. Enter "regedit" - this should open the registry editor.
  3. If you want, click on File/Export to backup your registry.  I would recommend backing it up to an external device (SD card or memory stick).  Make sure the Export range option at the bottom is set to "All".
  4. Now just click on the folders to expand the path to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Word\
  5. Then Select Excel, Word or Powerpoint
  6. Click on menu Edit/New/Dword(32 bit)
  7. A new REG_DWORD will show up called "New Value #1"
  8. Change the name to "DontAutoSave".
  9. Select that new DWORD and double click or hit enter.
  10. Value box will appear.  Change Value from 0 to 1.  Hit OK.

I agree completely.

 

Opening an old document (for reference, perhaps, or to copy data from it) ends up having the file's last update timestamp overwritten. It's  real problem... 

 

Office should always ask whether to begin autosave on a file when it's the first time an autosave-capable version of Office has opened it. This is product management 101.

 

They seem to be doing the thing that makes Google software impossible to work with,,, destroying downward compatibility by just dropping old features/function, or altering behavior because the new behavior is considered (by product management) to be somehow better.

 

there was a fix for this; Office added a 'discard in original' button to the dialog telling you your original file had been overwritten but this was removed in a recent Insider version; I was told this was because of a lot of feedback - so I suggest we give extra feedback to ask for it back

Did you ever get a good (and safe) solution to the new AutoSave issue that came in with the new Excel?  Same problem as we also follow the same process of opening a file and editing it a) to see what the results are and b) maybe saving it as a different version.  Thx in advance! Chris 

Set the document as read only or final? Also toggling the auto save button to off makes it open in off mode next time
Thanks! We've just turned autosave off (which is turning off some good functionality) but now Excel/'One Drive' no longer unilaterally decides to save our documents...
The method you (and we) use to load a spreadsheet and perform changes before we decide whether of not to actually save this version appears to be such a common approach in business that I can't understand why this wasn't spotted earlier..,, Thanks again! C
Yeah, I think users will need some training how this works! Your workflow might be a little different..

@Marli van Staden I feel the same frustration.  In our office environment it is causing additional confusion as the last person to edit a certain file is also changed which is propagated all throughout O365 (i.e. Delve, SharePoint notifications/subscriptions etc.)

Hi @Frank_Dawson ! After I wrote this post, there appears to have been an update to Office 365 which now allows for globally disabling AutoSave for an application. To disable this in Excel, go to File => Options => Save and uncheck the box "Autosave OneDrive and SharePoint Online files by default on Excel". Your colleagues would need to do the same, but hopefully this helps!

I haven't tried this myself if it works but it seems these regfixes disables Autosave for selected applications:

https://lazyadmin.nl/it/disable-autosave-for-office-365/

Regedits could be pushed via GPO if thats applicable!

Try for one machine!

 

Not saying I would do it though! I like autosave :)

 

/ Adam

There are more problems. We have files online that already existed before this feature was introduced, but where we made sure the "Thisworkbook.autosaveon" flag was set to false. But any new user that opens the file will somehow ignore this feature and it gets turned on again by Excel.

 

Worse, I experimented with using vba code to programmatically turn off autosave the moment a workbook is opened, but somehow excel manages to already save before the user has had a chance to press the "enable macros" button. >.>

 

How do I permanently disable this feature for all users accessing my files in SharePoint, not just for myself?

Hello Adam,

 

Problem is I'm not an admin, not would I want to turn it off for all excel files everywhere - just for the excel files I created that other users work with. I had hoped it'd be as easy as simply setting the workbook.autosaveon flag to "False", but no such luck. Is there any other way I can turn off autosave when another user opens my workbooks, before the file is first auto-saved? (which is before the user clicks on "Enable macro's" apparently)

I really disliked the Autosave at first. Now I am on the fence.

 

I still get pissed off when I see a bunch of files that I know I haven't changed in 5 years with last modified dates in last month but I mostly avoid that happening now. 

 

It may just be that a few process changes will make it usable and maybe even an improvement. I have found it helps to protect files and choose read only (File, Protect Document, Always Open Read-Only). That way you, or someone else, has to consciously choose if you want to save the file.

Well, I get it! It’s a very different way of thinking and working! But as said you can try set the document as read only when opened! I would suggest trying to adjust though! There’s benefits as well and remember that you have version history for recovery in case of misshappenings!!

Adam

Maybe this is also an option: 

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/Office-365-Blog/Announcing-the-new-cloud-based-policy-managem...

 

This is new functionality that you can enable or disable things in Office. You can sent these settings to a group of users. So you can deliver this only to those users who don't want the autosave option.

 

Maurits

Hello Adam,

 

I looked at that option as well, but if I set the files to read-only, the built-in macro's won't be able to write to the files when they should, either - and apart from the effort required to update the macro's contained in several hundreds of files, I cannot do so without the datestamp on those files getting changed.

 

I just hope there's a workaround - the files already contain a macro that immediately saves the files locally as soon as the user makes any changes, and only transfers the changes to the online version when they press the button to do so.

If the files were already saved online prior to that macro being triggered (or macro's being enabled at all by the user pressing 'enable macro's'), I would need to have the macro undo the unwanted auto-save by restoring the last version in sharepoint that wasn't autosaved after the opened file was stored locally (or is closed online without changes)

 

Is that possible, to find and restore an old version in SharePoint using vba?

@John Twohig  I am so HUGELY pissed at microsoft for the poor implementation of autosave - sending millions of users to change habits (open as read-only, etc.) which is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to enforce. We have lost an incredibly important feature of he windows explorer, namely, the "Last Modified" field has lost all meaning. It used to be that I could tell which file was the latest to be updated. Now, as soon as someone opens a file just to read it, the "Last modified" date gets updated. SHAME ON YOU MICROSOFT!!!!!!!! You should have thought of a way to preserve this critical piece of information that millions of users use every single day when looking at our work. 

@adam deltinger Thanks for the pointer.  Unfortunately, it does nothing to solve the real problem because at the end of the day, due to the way "auto-save" was implemented, it changes the meaning of "last modified". It used to be that "last modified" really told you when the last intentional change was made to the file. 

By design, the auto-save feature (which is very important in and of itself), renders the "last modified" field meaningless, or rather, it completely changed its meaning. It now tells you that someone has opened this file, even if only for reading purposed. You can no longer tell when the last real change was made. Had Microsoft understood this, they clearly could have found a technological solution (programming) to detect when a user actually made a change to a file, versus when they simply opened it without making any changes.  I am astonished that nobody at Microsoft thought of the critical importance of the "last modified" field in daily work, in the way that users search for files. For example "I can't remember the file's name, but I am sure it is the presentation that was the last one I changed". Well, until auto-save, it was no problem to identify that file. Simply sort on "last modified". To make things even worse, I now think twice before opening a file because I don't want to needlessly alter the "last modified" value for the file, if it wasn't really the one I meant to open. THIS IS A HUGE OVERHEAD OF BIG HEADACHE added to the daily work of millions of users.  Auto-save is an important feature, but why did we have to give up the incredible useful "last modified"???????  Why has it been two years now, and they still haven't fixed it???????  With all due respect, solutions that require retraining will never work sufficiently, and they increase the load of things to do and remember, instead of making our lives easier with technology. There is no reason I should ever need to think about whether to turn "autosave" on or off for any given file, or when I'm in a rush, have to berate myself for forgetting to do it. Technology is supposed to solve problems, not create new ones. And what drives me crazy is that the technological solution is no rocket science!!!! It just requires some thought!!!! 

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