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Microsoft Excel

How to Use AutoSave, AutoRecover, Version History in Excel

Microsoft Excel has several features designed to help you safeguard and recover your data. This article includes everything you need to know about AutoSave, AutoRecover, and Version History.

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AutoSave

AutoSave is a feature in Excel for Office 365 that saves your file every few seconds as your work. Autosave is enabled automatically, any time you save a file to OneDrive. AutoSave is not available if you save a file to your desktop, your C: drive, or a shared folder on your company’s network.

The beauty of AutoSave is, as long as your file is stored on OneDrive, you can open a file, make as many changes as you like, then close Excel – and all of your changes will be saved automatically.

Disable AutoSave for an Individual File

But what if you want to open an Excel file, make a few changes, then close it without saving? You can turn AutoSave off by clicking the little “switch” on the Quick Access Toolbar.

Control to toggle AutoSave on or off
AutoSave control in Excel

If you decide to turn AutoSave off, Excel will remember your preference for that specific file. Next time you open it, AutoSave will still be off. AutoSave will remain off for that specific file until you turn it on again.

Turn AutoSave Off Altogether

There may be times when it’s not convenient to have Excel automatically save every change you make. Sometimes you need to decide whether to save changes to a spreadsheet or not – and you don’t want Excel to save all changes by default.

You can turn AutoSave off altogether, if you want to.

To turn AutoSave off:

  1. Click the File tab in Excel and select Options to display the Excel Options dialog box.
  2. In the Save category, uncheck AutoSave OneDrive and SharePoint Online files by default on Excel.
  3. Click OK.
Enable or disable AutoSave in the Excel Options dialog box
Excel Options dialog box

AutoRecover

Saving your files to OneDrive – and using AutoSave – is the simplest and most convenient method to safeguard your data but there is another tool available to help you recover from an unplanned shutdown: AutoRecover.

By default, Excel will save a copy of your current spreadsheet every 10 minutes to a location specified in the Excel Options dialog box. You can configure an interval between 1 and 120 minutes.

Set the AutoRecover Interval

To change the AutoRecover interval:

  1. Click the File tab in Excel and select Options to display the Excel Options dialog box.
  2. In the Save category, enter an interval in the Save AutoRecover information every xx minutes box (where xx is the duration you specify).
  3. Click OK.
Set the AutoRecover interval in the Excel Options dialog box
Excel Options dialog box

Recover Unsaved Workbooks

Assuming AutoRecover information has been saved, any time you launch Excel and select Open on the left side of your screen, you should see the Recover Unsaved Workbooks button at the bottom of the Recent Files list.

Click Recover Unsaved Workbooks and select the file you’d like to recover.

Recover Unsaved Workbooks button
Recover Unsaved Workbooks button

Version History

Version History periodically takes a snapshot of your Excel spreadsheet. If you need to revert to an earlier version of your Excel file:

  1. Click the File tab in Excel and select Info.
  2. Click the Version History button to display the Version History panel next to your current worksheet.
  3. Select the version you’d like open.
  4. Copy any data from the older version of the spreadsheet or click Restore.
Version History button
Version History button

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By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.