What is it and Why is it There?

More notes from the Office Guy…

A: Well, first I’d like to congratulate you on actually noticing something tucked away in a corner of the screen! As an instructor I always tell my students to pay attention to the corners of their application windows. Microsoft doesn’t like un-utilized screen space and so they put icons wherever they can fit. Some of these features may discussed in future blogs. But, back to the question about the Auto-Save button.  The reason you just noticed it is that Microsoft is just rolled this feature out as part of the latest update.

This is part of a new way of dealing with upgrading Office applications. Instead of waiting 3 years and then rolling out a “new” version (think Office 2013, then Office 2016) all the applications are now branded as Office 365, even the desktop versions say Office 365 on their screen that show up when you first open the application. Going forward, new features are simply going to be pushed out, so expect that other “new” buttons are going to continue to appear.

So, here’s what you need to know about this new feature. The AutoSave button may appear dimmed and set to the Off position or it could appear fully illuminated and set to the On position as shown here:

This setting is based on where the file you’re working on is stored. Files that are stored locally on the hard drive, flash drives or shared network drives will show the button in the Off position, and you will not be able to turn the feature on.

But if the file in question is stored in a Cloud-based location like OneDrive or SharePoint the button will appear to be turned on with an option to turn the feature off. If you only use the desktop application versions of the Office products this may seem strange, but in Office 365 it is possible to create and edit files directly in the Web-App versions of these products where AutoSave has been a feature since day one (Web-App versions don’t even have a Save button!). This means that whenever you are working in a document in AutoSave mode, the changes you make to the document are being saved in real time as you make them, no more need to “save early, save often”.

This can be a mixed blessing. While this means you don’t have to worry about losing changes if you don’t remember to click the Save button, it also means that if you make changes to a document and then decide you didn’t want to save them you’d have to undo a lot of changes or recover an earlier version of the file (possible to do with files stored in the Cloud).

If you decide you want to edit your document but wait to save all your changes you can point your mouse to the On switch and slide it into the Off position:

Then, at the end of editing session you can click the save button to preserve your changes if you desire, or choose to not save your changes when you close the file.

A couple more things to know. One is that this applies to all document-based Office 2016 desktop applications: Word, Excel and PowerPoint and that AutoSave is enabled by default. This also means that you can stop cloud-based files from automatically opening in AutoSave mode, but you would then have the option to turn it on a case by case basis.

To make this change, click the File Tab and then choose Options from the commands in the column on the left side of the screen. Then click the Save category and uncheck the AutoSave by default switch:

Finally, you would need to do this in each Office application separately, turning this off in Word would not affect this setting in Excel and/or PowerPoint.

That’s it for this month, keep those questions coming!