Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Understanding Background Saving.

Understanding Background Saving

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 29, 2018)

You already know that it is important to periodically save your documents. This helps protect your work in case of catastrophic power failure or inadvertent massive edits (such as those imposed by an errant macro). When your document is small, saving to disk can be done very quickly. As your document grows, or as you start saving your document to storage devices that aren't that speedy, saving can take quite a bit longer to do.

To overcome the delay normally associated with saving a document, Word uses what is known as "background saving." This simply means that Word allows you to continue working as it actually writes your document to disk. The benefit is that you can keep right on working as Word does its housekeeping. You can tell when a background save is taking place because an animated disk appears on the status bar. When the disk disappears, the save is complete.

You can control whether the program utilizes background saving in the following manner:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 or a later version display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box click Advanced.
  3. Scroll through the available options until you see the Save section. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Save section of the Advanced options of the Word Options dialog box.

  5. If the Allow Background Saves check box is selected, Word will use the background saving feature.
  6. Click on OK to dismiss the Options dialog box.

Understand that background saving isn't a protection against losing information if you forget to save or if Word crashes or you lose power. All it does is to make your normal saving process faster by allowing the saving to happen in the background after you click on the Save tool.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6106) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Understanding Background Saving.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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