Troubleshoot why Excel doesn't save changes

Note

Office 365 ProPlus is being renamed to Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. For more information about this change, read this blog post.

As you work in a workbook, Microsoft Excel saves the file automatically. It gives the file a temporary file name, and puts the file into the same folder as the original version. When you manually save the workbook, the original file is deleted, and the temporary file is assigned the original file name.

If this process is interrupted, the workbook might not save correctly. You might also find one or more temporary files in the folder where you tried to save your file. Additionally, you may receive one of several alerts or error messages.

The following information can help you identify possible causes of this problem, and proposes solutions to help you solve the problem.

Possible reasons why documents don't save

Select the tab that applies to you, or go to the "Quick resolution" section.

If you cannot save a workbook when you run Microsoft Excel in Windows Safe mode, the problem may be caused by a third-party add-in or by a file from one of the Excel startup locations. By default, startup files are loaded when you start Excel.

Some add-ins from third-party software vendors work together with existing Excel features by design, and some are intended to enable a seamless transition when you use a third-party product. Typically, these third-party add-ins do not interfere with Excel functionality. However, some functions, such as saving a file can be affected.

To test for and eliminate the possibility that a third-party Excel add-in or file is causing a "save" problem in Excel, try to save the file in Safe mode. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Exit Excel.

  2. Select Start, and point to Programs.

  3. As Excel starts, press and hold Ctrl until you receive a message that resembles the following:

    Excel has detected that you are holding down the Ctrl key. Do you want to start Excel in safe mode?

  4. Select Yes.

  5. Open a new Excel workbook, and try to save it. If that works, try again to save the problem file.

If the file now saves correctly, a custom add-in or a file that is located in an Excel startup location is most likely the cause. You must locate and remove the add-in or the file to eliminate the problem. After you determine which add-in or file caused the problem, contact the vendor for additional information or an update that resolves the problem.

For more information about Microsoft Excel safe mode, press F1 in Excel to open the Help menu, type safe mode in the Search box, and then select Search to view the topic.

For more information about how to determine the folders that Excel uses during startup, and additional options to disable this functionality, see the following articles:

Quick resolution

If none of the causes that are listed in this article apply to your situation, or you still can't save workbooks, try the following options to save your Excel files. To see more details about the steps, select the chevron image to the left or the option heading.

Option 1

Save the workbook by using a new file name

  1. On the File menu, select Save As.
  2. Save the Excel workbook by using a unique file name.

Option 2

Move the original worksheets to a new workbook

  1. Add a filler worksheet to your workbook. To do this, press Shift+F11.
  2. Group all the worksheets (except the filler). To do this, select the first sheet, hold the Shift key, and then select the last sheet.
  3. Right-select the grouped sheets, and then select Move or copy.
  4. In the To Book list, select (New Book).
  5. Select OK.

Option 3

Save the file as a different Excel file type

  1. On the File menu, select Save As.
  2. In the Save as Type list, select a file format other than the current file format. If you are using Microsoft Excel 2007 or a later version, save the file as .xlsx or .xlsm instead of as .xls.

Option 4

Try to save the workbook to another location

Try saving your notebook to another location, such as a local hard disk, a network drive, or removable drive.

Option 5

Try to save a new workbook to the original location

  1. Create an Excel workbook.

  2. On the File menu, select Save As.

  3. In the Save As dialog box, follow these steps:

    1. In the Save in box, select the location in which the original workbook was saved.
    2. In the File name box, type a name for the new file.
    3. Select Save.

Option 6

Try to save the workbook in safe mode

Restart Windows in safe mode, and then try to save the workbook to your local hard disk.

Additional resources

To avoid problems that prevent files from being saved correctly, we recommend that you activate AutoSave. For more information, see What is Autosave.

If you experience specific problems when you use Excel, go to the following website to search for more information about your program version:

Microsoft Excel Product Solution Center: Excel

Detailed view of the options

The following section provides more detailed descriptions of these options.

You may have problems when you try to save a Microsoft Excel workbook if one or more of the following conditions are true:

  • You save an Excel workbook to a network drive on which you have restricted permissions.
  • You save an Excel workbook to a location that does not have sufficient storage space.
  • The connection to the Excel workbook is lost.
  • There is a conflict with an antivirus software program.
  • You save an Excel workbook that is shared.
  • The 218-character path limitation is exceeded when you save an Excel workbook.

Workarounds to save Excel workbooks

To work around this problem and try to save your work before you troubleshoot, use the following methods. Depending on the cause of the problem, you may be unable to recover the current file as-is. However, the following methods are typically successful. These methods are listed in order of format retention when you are trying to keep the original file formatting.

Note

The following methods may not save all the latest changes, formatting, and feature sets of the workbook that are specific to the version of Excel that you are using. The following methods are intended to let you obtain a usable, saved version of the file. These methods require you to save the file to your local hard disk by using a unique file name.

Option 1: Save the workbook by using a new file name

  1. On the File menu, select Save As.
  2. Save the Excel workbook by using a unique file name.

Option 2: Move the original worksheets to a new workbook

  1. Add a filler worksheet to your workbook. To do this, press Shift+F11.

    Note

    This sheet is required because there must be at least one remaining sheet in a workbook after you move all relevant data sheets.

  2. Group all the worksheets (except the filler). To do this, select the first data sheet, hold the Shift key, and then select the last data sheet.

  3. Right-select the grouped sheets, and then select Move or copy.

  4. In the To Book list, select (New Book).

  5. Select OK.

    Note

    These steps should move the active (grouped) worksheets to a new workbook.

If your workbook contains VBA macros, copy the modules from the old workbook to the new workbook.

Option 3: Save the file as a different Excel file type

  1. On the File menu, select Save As.
  2. In the Save as Type list, select a file format other than the current file format. If you are using Microsoft Excel 2007 or a later version, save the file as .xlsx or .xlsm instead of as .xls.

Option 4: Try to save the workbook to another location

Try to save the workbook to another location, such as a local hard disk, a network drive, or a removable drive. If you are successful, the following are possible causes of the problem:

  • Antivirus software conflict
  • Restricted permissions
  • File name length
  • File sharing conflict

Option 5: Try to save a new workbook to the original location

To save a new Excel file to the original location, follow these steps:

  1. Create an Excel workbook.

  2. On the File menu, select Save As.

  3. In the Save As dialog box, follow these steps:

    1. In the Save in box, select the location in which the original workbook is saved.
    2. In the File name box, type a name for the new file.
    3. Select Save.

If you can save a new workbook to the original location, the following are possible causes of the problem:

  • File name length
  • File sharing conflict

If you can't save a new workbook to the original location, the following is a possible cause of the problem:

  • Insufficient drive space

If you have sufficient drive space, try Option 3.

Option 6: Try to save the workbook in safe mode

Restart Windows in safe mode, and then try to save the workbook to your local hard disk.

Notes

  • If you use a network location to save your workbook, try to restart Windows in safe mode with network support, and then try to save.
  • Windows safe mode cannot be used to troubleshoot problems in Microsoft Excel 2010 or later versions.

For more information about how to start Windows in safe mode, see Advanced startup options (including safe mode).

If the workbook saves after you restart Windows in safe mode, try again to save the file. To do this, select Save on the File menu.

If the workbook doesn't save after you restart Windows in safe mode, the following are possible causes:

  • Third-party add-ins
  • Antivirus software conflict
  • Restricted permissions
  • File name length

More information

Still need help? Go to Microsoft Community.