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Save Early and Save Often

Posted: Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:07 pm
by Stephen Hart
Heres' an experience with Microsoft Word. It's not that different from my long-ago experiences with Word*.

My wife was working on a Word document in Word 2011. She moved the document, saved this morning at work, from Dropbox to another folder on her hard drive. Then she worked on it this evening in Word for a couple of hours. Everything seemed normal. Typing, deleting, etc. looked normal on the monitor. Word was set to autosave every 10 minutes (the default).
Then Word hung up, and she had to force quit.
Then there was nothing to recover. Word had apparently been malfunctioning and not saving for two hours. Nothing in recents. Nothing in Time Machine (even though it had saved during that time). No files of the name of the one she was working on, no .asd files (the suffix for Word automatic save documents).

Here's the official Microsoft statement about Autosave:
The AutoRecover and AutoSave features are not a substitute for regularly saving your work by clicking Save Button image. Manually saving your file is the surest way to preserve the work you have done.
Amen to that. (Actually, I'd amend to say saving manually is the only way to preserve the work you have done.)

The only way I can imagine to deal with this is to manually save (or use a macro app like Keyboard Maestro to trigger command S every few minutes) and/or to save the document with a new name regularly.

* I used to work as a writer. I had to use Word, as all my editors did. Word, from version 6 - 2011 crashed on spell check as a normal course of events. It crashed at random times even when I wasn't spell checking. I regularly lost work, even though I auto saved every 5 minutes, and saved dozens of named versions of every document.

Re: Save Early and Save Often

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:57 am
by Jay Cline
I remember how System 7-8-9 would crash when working on important documents several times a day. We got used to saving files or doing a save as for backup in case the bad thing happened. OS X being very stable has made us feel safe that we won't lose anything.

Re: Save Early and Save Often

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 9:14 am
by Stephen Hart
Oh, and I forgot to mention that Word does not have a separate option to, you, know actually save a file every x minuted. It used to.

Re: Save Early and Save Often

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:57 am
by Stephen Hart
In the light of day, I found an answer--in spite of Microsoft's best efforts.

Searching for "where does Word for Mac store asd files" yielded a bunch of answers that were unhelpful. But this one from Apple Support Communities saved the day: ... 0&tstart=0

Here's the location for Word's autosave files (.asd auto save document):
User Library (may need to be unhidden) > Application Support > Microsoft > Office > Office 2011 AutoRecovery

The trick, this poster writes, is "The key thing to realize here is that a file which gets saved in Autorecovery DOES NOT appear in any searches by date modified, name of file, etc. It's as if it is hidden completely after being saved."

Of course, the plan is that any such files will automatically pop open when you restart Word. But if that fails for any reason, Microsoft is entirely unhelpful. The answer on Microsoft support is that Word doesn't have autosave.

It occurred to me this morning that I might have found the file with Spotlight if I'd searched with a setting of File visibility > Visible or Invisible. But that doesn't find the file. What does is to include System files in the Finder Spotlight search. So a search for Name > contains [part of file name] + System files > are included does show the autosaved file.

You can set a folder for autosave in Word Preferences, and that might be an excellent idea, though in the thread I cite above, people seemed to have varying results from that. I wonder if the folder location reverts to default if you update Word.

But wait! There's more!

• Word 2011 help shows the wrong location for the Office 2011 AutoRecovery folder (in El Capitan).

• Furthermore, we found that though you can open the auto recovery file by double clicking it, and you can edit it, a subsequent save creates a .doc file that Word can't open. Word says it's damaged. If you choose Save As, and choose .docx as the file format, the resulting file will open normally in Word 2011. I think the Save As writes a whole new file.

Re: Save Early and Save Often

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:45 pm
by Stephen Hart
One more post on this issue, in case someone else can benefit.

We think the issue came from copying some text from an older Word document and pasting it into the new one. That may have brought along a style that introduced some incompatibility, or bad characters or something.

A Microsoft document has this to say about damaged documents. (That presumably includes suspect documents.)

If the document will open in Word, choose Save As > Format > Rich Text Format and then save with a new name. This will preserve your formatting.
Open the rtf document and choose Save As > Format > Word Document (.docx). This will recreate the file with no damaged parts.

I would then change the name of the original document in the Finder, adding "bad" or "damaged."