Determining Excel's autosave value from the Windows registry

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Microsoft Excel provides an autorecover feature that allows you to recover updates to spreadsheets or other files that were open in Excel even if changes were made since the last time the file was saved. Excel will automatically save files at a specified time interval so that if Excel crashes or the system crashes or loses power, you can recover the latest version of the file, or at least the file as it was the last time Excel automatically saved it. For the Office 365 version of Excel, you can find the autosave interval by clicking on File in Excel then selecting More, then Options, and then Save. The default value is 10 minutes but you can have Excel save more or less frequently.

Excel Save Options

You can also find the value by checking the Windows Registry, which you can view or edit by using the Registry Editor program that comes with Microsoft Windows. You can find the value by navigating to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options and checking the value for AutoRecoverTime. In the example below, the automatic save time has been changed to 15 minutes (hexadecimal value F).

Registry Excel AutoRecoverTime

You can also find the value from a command prompt by issuing a reg query command as shown below.

C:\>reg query HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options /v AutoRecoverTime

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options
    AutoRecoverTime    REG_DWORD    0xf


C:\>

The 0x before the value indicates the number that follows is a hexadecimal number, in the case above that number if F, which equals decimal 15. You can also modify the value by using a reg add command at a command prompt, but you will need to open the command prompt window with administrator access or you will get an "access is denied" message.

C:\Windows\system32>reg add HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options /v AutoRecoverTime /t REG_DWORD /d 0xA /f
The operation completed successfully.

C:\Windows\system32>reg query HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options /v AutoRecoverTime

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Excel\Options
    AutoRecoverTime    REG_DWORD    0xa


C:\Windows\system32>

The /v option given to the reg add command indicates the specified value while the /t indicates the type of value, in this case REG_DWORD, which indicates a "doubleword," i.e., 32 bits, and the /d value specifies the data to be hexadecimal A, which is decimal 10, thus changing the automatic save interval to every 10 minutes. Adding the /f parameter forces an overwrite of the existing registry value without prompting the user to confirm the change. You can see options for the reg command by issuing the command reg /? at a command prompt.

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    Date: January 29, 2020