• Camilo Terevinto

How to make Word save files offline first

Updated: Jan 29

Note: this post is intended for people that use OneDrive as backup and not as primary source.

If you are like me, you are using Microsoft OneDrive to back up your most important documents, images, and etc. Microsoft Word, among other Microsoft Office products, can be configured to save files to OneDrive automatically, and this might even be configured by default. This is great, as it means that all changes are backed up on the cloud automatically, without us having to worry about it. However, what happens with new files?

Let's say we need to create a new Word document:

and we save it as configured by default:

We can see that the document has been saved with the new name, and that AutoSave turned on automatically:

So far so good, right? We have our document saved in OneDrive. Let's take a look at where the document is being opened from:

That is a OneDrive link. It's not a physical path in your computer. This means that you are not working on the offline file on your computer, but rather editing directly the file in your OneDrive.

For some people, probably a lot of people, this configuration is great because the file on the cloud is always up to date, as long as you have internet.

If you have OneDrive installed and running on your computer, and set to synchronize the folder where you saved your document, the file will be downloaded to your computer as you edit it on the cloud, and everything will be fine.

However, if OneDrive is not running for whatever reason, or could not synchronize the folder, or is not configured to synchronize the folder automatically, you end up without the file (or with an old version of the file) until you allow OneDrive to synchronize the folder.

So, as long as you don't need the file offline or you can ensure that OneDrive is running and synchronizing the files you need, everything is fine. It's also fine if you use multiple devices and prefer/need to always have the latest version on the cloud. If you are like me, though, and not always have OneDrive running, this can bite you, as you would expect the file you are working on to be saved on your computer first and then uploaded to OneDrive, and not vice-versa.

If you want to have Word first save offline and then, when possible, upload to OneDrive, this simple change will do:

  1. Open File > Options,

  2. Go to the Save tab,

  3. Click on "Save to Computer by default",

  4. And, optionally, change the "Default local file location" to the OneDrive folder in your computer

When you save a new file now, you will see the offline path was used instead:

By doing this, files will be changed first offline and then on the cloud.

As this was recently a problem for me, where I needed the latest copy of a file and OneDrive had not synchronized, I hope it can help others avoid these problems.


Microsoft, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word and Microsoft OneDrive are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.


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