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How can we improve Excel for Windows (Desktop Application)?

AutoSave Master Switch rather than an "I Told YOu So!" later

Microsoft has added a new feature to help users co-author files. Whether you are for or against this feature is not my point here: it needs Excel's AutoSave switched on to work. That's fine. But it shouldn't be the default. It is accepted that Office is trying to make various apps consistent, but Excel is used differently. What makes it the most popular software in the world is the ability to experiment without consequences.

Made a mistake? No fear, close without saving and re-open. Accidentally delete a sheet? Don't worry, close without saving and re-open. Replaced all formulae with =RAND()? Etc etc.

For those working in the Cloud, yes you can restore earlier versions - when it works. But many don't. And some can't (no internet, company policies, etc.).

What does the new setting mean? Make a mistake? You're stuffed. Fed up of re-doing files? Tough. Where is my earlier version of Excel? I will go back to it and to heck with Office 365. Yes, AutoSave as default is going to hurt people. Including Microsoft's strategies to adopt O365.

Please vote for this. All I want is a master switch where the default setting for AutoSave is off, so if things go wrong, you only have yourselves to blame. It's not asking too much, is it..?

Don't come here and vote when you have realised it's a good idea, do it now so you don't pay the consequences. Please... For all our sakes!!

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Liam Bastick shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
completed  ·  AdminExcel Team [MSFT] (Product Owner, responded  · 

We have been listening to your feedback and are updating AutoSave with the ability to turn AutoSave off if desired. There are three patterns in this feedback thread that we are addressing now. The first pattern is that you want AutoSave off because you make temporary edits or hypothetical edits that you don’t want to save (we call this what-if analysis). The second pattern is that you start a new file from an existing file after making some changes to the existing file (like a Template or Invoice). The third is that sometimes the “Last Modified” timestamps are changing even when no edits were made.

In response to the feedback about a desire for AutoSave to be off by default due to temporary or hypothetical edits (what-if), we have added some new functionality and options for AutoSave:
1. You can turn AutoSave off for a specific file. While a document is open, clicking the AutoSave toggle disables AutoSave for the current document for that user. The next time the same user opens the document, AutoSave will be off. If they open a different document, AutoSave will not be affected by their choice in the other document.
2. To avoid accidental edits by others, the owner of a file can set it to Always Open Read-Only. 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).
3. You can set AutoSave to be off by default for all files opened in that specific application (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) on that device. Go into File > Options > Save and uncheck the “AutoSave OneDrive and SharePoint Online files by default on Excel”
All of these solutions are described in more detail in this support article:

In response to the feedback about Templates and Invoices, we are releasing a new dialog reminding you to “Save a Copy” prior to using an existing template if you want to save changes only in the new document.
To address the issue with last modified information changing unexpectedly, we have made some changes in how we determine if a file should be saved when it is opened. In all cases where a file isn’t edited or only “view” changes are made (such as changing selection or active sheet), no save will happen and the Last Modified fields will not change. We now also will not trigger AutoSave for some features that edit the file one open (such as volatile functions). We are still looking into other ways the timestamp changes to see if there are other places where we may be inadvertently updating it, so please let us know if you see any cases we missed.

You can also learn more about AutoSave in general and how to use it in this support article:

Let us know if you have any questions or comments on these changes or for AutoSave in general.

Excel Program Manager


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  • Kristina Antonis commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    The AutoSave feature is absolutely HORRIBLE and the "new functionality and options for AutoSave off" are not sufficient. Please remove this feature entirely or make it so the user must choose this option instead of making it the default!


  • Douglas Lee commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I had a weekly file that I was using with a macro to print out the existing information, modify and remove certain items and then initialize it for the next week and then save it with the starting date of the week appended to the name. Imagine my surprise when I found I was missing data in many of my saved files. Nothing had changed in the macro in nearly a year, but the last few months were blank, initialized files. Debugging the macro showed nothing odd happening, so I had no idea where to look. Eventually, I realized that autosave was saving my changes for the new week into the old week's file before saving them into the new week. What a pain fixing this!

  • Brian Carrier commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I opened a file from Drop box which asked me to open the excel sheet with excel online it then did the Auto save without telling me of this new feature and I will now need to drive an hour to remeasure everything I did for this job. Fix this Please.

  • Isaac Chua commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Regarding the areas where the application might be updating a document which had no change: I found this to happen sometimes: when a file is "on the cloud" on OneDrive or OneDrive for Business in Explorer, and OneDrive has the setting ON under Office > File collaboration > Use Office 2016 to sync Office files that I open, opening such file would immediately trigger a save upon opening.

  • SC commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Hi Micah,

    I'd also argue that the UI is counter-intuitive and unhelpful. AutoSave ought to be available for all files or not at all. At present it's tied to your own cloud services and that feels, to me, like Microsoft tying office into OneDrive in order to try and sell OneDrive in exactly the same way as happened with Internet Explorer and Media Player.

    If AutoSave is available, can you make it available for files that aren't tied to Microsoft paid services?

  • Nichole Jeffries commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Auto save continually messes up my invoicing process. Not having a master shut off for the auto save feature costs me so much time! It is a daily battle for me. Please fix this!

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Another reason to hate Autosave: I'm used to right clicking Excel in the taskbar to pull up a recently used file. This feature is now in effect disabled, because the listing shows all of the autosaves from the last used file.
    I still want to have the ability to recover any unsaved files from an app crash, but this constant autosaving causes me huge problems when I want to save a new version of the file as a completely new file and my original file has been saved over 20 times. Doesn't Microsoft do any consumer use testing?

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    If you seriously want to turn off Autosave follow Scotts post below dated 18/11 - it works a treat & I have disabled our 10 PC's in the office.
    If you're not happy editing the registry, find someone who understands the registry to do it for you.

  • Anonymous commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    This is insane! I regularly open a file to do a quick "what if" to the original file with the intention of not saving the file when closing it. But now that is no longer possible unless I first turn off auto save. OR

    Sometimes I'm deep into the work updating the file and something goes wrong so I may have originally opened the file to make a permanent change. Nope still stinks, instead of just closing the file and starting over (agreed lost some valuable work time) I still have to work around this auto save function. Microsoft, your taking the control away from us, GIVE IT BACK!!!

  • SC commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I'd actually like an option in options that not only turns it off for all workbooks, but hides the button from the toolbar. I never edit with online services such as OneDrive so this is just meaningless clutter for me.

  • Mike Honey commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Surely any change to a fundamental function affecting absolutely every user, that has worked the same way for 30 years should only be applied on an "opt-in" basis. In this case there's not even an "opt" !

    Its hard to believe this issue with such a huge, broad impact and a seemingly trivial resolution has remained unresolved for many months. Instead we got 3D models and pencil improvements - I'm sure these were massive development efforts and I'm also sure they will be used by a tiny percentage of Excel users.

  • AKMC 117 commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    To be honest I'd prefer it as a setting tied to the workbook. There are SOME workbooks that it's useful for. For most of the books that I work on, though, the circumstances described by Liam apply exactly; I do not want the workbook saved until or unless I tell it that I want it saved to prevent corruption.

  • H Dum commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    @Konrad- that is essentially what previous versions did. If program shut down without saving, or asking if you wanted to save and telling it no, the next time you opened any file in the same program you'd get a message box on the left hand side of your document with a list of files had been opened and asked if you wanted the previously not saved copy or if you are done with it.

    What was wrong with that? IF IT'S NOT BROKE DON'T FIX IT!
    If you must, save it as a temporary file, don't overwrite mine. Oh, but that's what it used to do.
    Auto-save has it's uses, the idiot proofing, but auto-save with no settings is a gasoline truck being slammed by the train having just left the oil refinery when it jumps the tracks. It's not pretty when they jump the tracks.

    Auto-save with no changes to document means lost ability to archive files based on date, or use as reference
    Auto-save overwriting templates- might as well have deleted the option to create a template then. It's a template, you're not supposed to be able to save directly to it
    Auto-save kills laptop battery & times out the ability to do anything productive while it's saving. In the middle of formatting, and opps, never mind you don't get to work. Be reasonable with frequency. Give the user the option to change the frequency, not any different then the computer or the cell phone screen going to sleep.

    No, I don't want to save I copy. I don't want changes saved to both copies, I want to save as because version2 is different, but need to be able to reference version1, and when does anyone save anything before they start, let alone save as, which save a copy forces.

  • Benjamin Burde commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    Please disable autosave! Many of us use Excel for simple documents like price lists. Those have a timestamp that we need to remain the same. Autosave kills that and kills the functionality of Excel. Please don't punish your customers.

  • Kristin commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    I agree, the default should be OFF, then if you want it on, you turn it on.
    This new feature has made it difficult when you use 1 template for many different excel docs. When you are an admin assistant to your boss and changes like this are made, you have to remind them to turn it off when opening the template or do a save as every time so that the template is not auto saved over. It has made using excel inefficient to use. ( I have save multiple copies of templates in different locations for that auto save reason!)

  • Andrew commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

    To add to the many posts, autosave is a disaster for professional users. I would have thought this is obvious, but the development team could have found this out within an hour if they had asked anyone who uses Excel a lot.

    Developers: We aren't using Excel as a game to pass the time. It is a key tool to enable us to earn a living.

    Please just add a check-box under options: "Disable autosave for Excel". It really can't be hard.

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