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Stupid Simple Mac Tips #52 – Save Early, Save Often

Stupid Simple Mac Tips #52 – Save Early, Save Often

By Tom Lambotte | October 20, 2020

Have you ever found yourself in a panic after losing a Word document?

You certainly aren’t alone.

True story: while editing this very article you are reading – Word froze and crashed on me. Not once. Not twice. But three times in a row.

And even though I provide a strategy you can use to recover lost work below, it’s not full-proof. In fact, Word first froze up on me when I going to document this reality.

The tips below will help reduce the chances of you losing work in Microsoft Word greatly, but there’s never 100%.

So – as the title of this tip says: Save Early and Save Often. [I just hit save again]

Don’t believe me? Here’s my screen recording since this was just too ironic (don’t ya think?):

I’m not usually this paranoid and the majority of the times the AutoRecover features works great for me. After the occurrence repeating itself 3 times, I rebooted my computer.

For a decade I have said I custom order some coffee mugs that say:

“Never under-estimate the power of a restart.”

Ok, back to the main event. In today’s Stupid Simple Mac Tip, I’ll provide a few solutions to how to reduce your chances of losing data in Word and also how to recover Word documents quickly (though it’s not 100%).

Get your settings right:

By default, Microsoft Word autosaves your document every 10 minutes.

However, you can lose a good amount of work in ten minutes.

If your computer crashes for whatever reason, the most you will lose is up to the last minute of your work. Here’s how to set this up: [do this NOW, as you read it]

  1. Click on Word in the menu bar and go to Preferences
  2. Click on the Save icon.
  3. Change the settings to reflect what I have here:
    • Check Always create a backup copy
    • Check Allow background saves
    • Check Save AutoRecover info [this IS on by default, but you want to change the number down to 1 minute]

I have to point out AutoSave and AutoRecover is different:

  • AutoSave only works if you use OneDrive or SharePoint which a very small percentage of our Mac-using lawyer readers use.
  • AutoRecover helps you to control the time to auto save your document.

Kinda stupid right? AutoRecover auto-saves for you, another great naming play by Microsoft 🤣

Ok, AutoRecover is now enabled and set to 1 minute. That’ll significantly reduce your risk of data loss.

To ensure that your document is safe, save it right away upon opening a new document.

From there, AutoRecover will quietly save your document every ten minutes. Finally, if AutoRecover doesn’t magically work, there’s one thing to try. This is straight out of one of our knowledgebase articles and a trick my support techs have used many times to save the day for our clients.

Retrieving files from Auto-Recovery

Sometimes Word locks up and doesn’t gracefully recover the files we were working on as we would hope. This process explains how to go into the Auto-Recovery folder and retrieve a version of the document they were working on. 

If you double click the files to open them, you will be unable to do so. 

  1. Go to Finder, click on Go in the menu bar, and chose Go to Folder
  2. Paste this Auto-Recovery File path:
    ~/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery/
  3. Find the most recent file and Create a copy of the file onto your desktop. 
  4. Rename it and remove the extension from the name. 
  5. Rename it again adding the “.docx” extension and accept changing the extension message. 
  6. This should allow you to open the file in word. 

* If this doesn’t work just try using a different extension such as “.doc”

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  • October 20, 2020

About the Author

Tom Lambotte is a legal technology expert, author and the CEO of GlobalMac IT. He helps Mac-using lawyers with super simple technology, security and efficiency strategies that work. He’s on a mission to help attorneys using Apple computers reduce their security risk and get more out of their technology. Get his free 33 Stupid Simple Mac Tips and score some quick wins to boost your productivity.