Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: A Real AutoSave.

A Real AutoSave

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 7, 2011)

Word has a built-in AutoSave feature that offers a limited amount of protection for the documents on which you are working. If you have AutoSave turned on, Word periodically (you can define how often) saves a copy of the document on which you are working. These periodic saves are stored in special backup files that Word maintains; it does not store them in the same document as the one on which you are working.

For instance, let's say you are working on a document named Report.doc, and that you have AutoSave enabled and set for every ten minutes. When the ten-minute mark is reached, Word stores the document in a temporary file, not back in Report.doc. The only time that this happens is when you explicitly save the file. Then Report.doc is saved and the temporary file is deleted. When you first start Word, it checks to see if any of these temporary files are on your system. If they are, then it "recovers" those files and gives you the chance to save them, if you desire.

There may be times when you want a real AutoSave instead of one that uses temporary files. For instance, you might want Report.doc saved every ten minutes—automatically. To do this, you need to create your own macros that take care of it for you. The following series of three simple macros will accomplish the task:

Sub AutoOpen()
    WordSaver
End Sub
Sub WordSaver()
    Application.OnTime When:=Now + _
      TimeValue("00:10:00"), _
      Name:="Saver"
End Sub
Sub Saver()
    ActiveDocument.Save
    WordSaver
End Sub

If you save these macros with a document, then they will always provide an AutoSave for that document. The AutoOpen macro is run when the document is first opened, and it runs WordSaver. WordSaver does nothing but run the Saver macro after ten minutes has elapsed. When Saver runs, it saves the active document, and then runs WordSaver again, which starts the ten-minute cycle all over.

There are a couple of drawbacks to these macros. First of all, there is no way to undo what is saved. With the regular Word AutoSave, you can always close a document without saving any modifications. The second drawback is that these macros will save whichever document is currently active—including one you might not have intended to save. Finally, if you save these macros as part of a template, then when you open a document using that template, ten minutes later a Save As dialog box will appear since your new document is not yet named.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (157) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: A Real AutoSave.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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