Excel 2016: Saving and Sharing Workbooks

Lesson 4: Saving and Sharing Workbooks



Whenever you create a new workbook in Excel, you'll need to know how to save it in order to access and edit it later. As with previous versions of Excel, you can save files locally to your computer. But unlike older versions, Excel 2016 also lets you save a workbook to the cloud using OneDrive. You can also export and share workbooks with others directly from Excel.

Watch the video below to learn more about saving and sharing workbooks in Excel.

About OneDrive

Whenever you're opening or saving a workbook, you'll have the option of using your OneDrive, which is the online file storage service included with your Microsoft account. To enable this option, you'll need to sign in to Office. To learn more, visit our lesson on Understanding OneDrive.

Accessing OneDrive

Save and Save As

Excel offers two ways to save a file: Save and Save As. These options work in similar ways, with a few important differences:

  • Save: When you create or edit a workbook, you'll use the Save command to save your changes. You'll use this command most of the time. When you save a file, you'll only need to choose a file name and location the first time. After that, you can just click the Save command to save it with the same name and location.
  • Save As: You'll use this command to create a copy of a workbook while keeping the original. When you use Save As, you'll need to choose a different name and/or location for the copied version.

To save a workbook:

It's important to save your workbook whenever you start a new project or make changes to an existing one. Saving early and often can prevent your work from being lost. You'll also need to pay close attention to where you save the workbook so it will be easy to find later.

  1. Locate and select the Save command on the Quick Access Toolbar.
    Clicking the Save command
  2. If you're saving the file for the first time, the Save As pane will appear in Backstage view.
  3. You'll then need to choose where to save the file and give it a file name. To save the workbook to your computer, select Computer, then click Browse. Alternatively, you can click OneDrive to save the file to your OneDrive.
    Saving a workbook locally
  4. The Save As dialog box will appear. Select the location where you want to save the workbook.
  5. Enter a file name for the workbook, then click Save.
    Saving a workbook
  6. The workbook will be saved. You can click the Save command again to save your changes as you modify the workbook.

You can also access the Save command by pressing Ctrl+S on your keyboard.

Using Save As to make a copy

If you want to save a different version of a workbook while keeping the original, you can create a copy. For example, if you have a file named Sales Data, you could save it as Sales Data 2 so you'll be able to edit the new file and still refer back to the original version.

To do this, you'll click the Save As command in Backstage view. Just like when saving a file for the first time, you'll need to choose where to save the file and give it a new file name.

Clicking Save As

To change the default save location:

If you don't want to use OneDrive, you may be frustrated that OneDrive is selected as the default location when saving. If you find it inconvenient to select Computer each time, you can change the default save location so Computer is selected by default.

  1. Click the File tab to access Backstage view.
    Clicking the File tab
  2. Click Options.
    Clicking Options
  3. The Excel Options dialog box will appear. Select Save, check the box next to Save to Computer by default, then click OK. The default save location will be changed.
    Clicking the default save location


Excel automatically saves your workbooks to a temporary folder while you are working on them. If you forget to save your changes or if Excel crashes, you can restore the file using AutoRecover.

To use AutoRecover:

  1. Open Excel. If autosaved versions of a file are found, the Document Recovery pane will appear.
  2. Click to open an available file. The workbook will be recovered.
    The Document Recovery pane

By default, Excel autosaves every 10 minutes. If you are editing a workbook for less than 10 minutes, Excel may not create an autosaved version.

If you don't see the file you need, you can browse all autosaved files from Backstage view. Just select the File tab, click Manage Versions, then choose Recover Unsaved Workbooks.

Accessing all auto-saved files

Exporting workbooks

By default, Excel workbooks are saved in the .xlsx file type. However, there may be times when you need to use another file type, such as a PDF or Excel 97-2003 workbook. It's easy to export your workbook from Excel to a variety of file types.

To export a workbook as a PDF file:

Exporting your workbook as an Adobe Acrobat document, commonly known as a PDF file, can be especially useful if you're sharing a workbook with someone who does not have Excel. A PDF will make it possible for recipients to view but not edit the content of your workbook.

  1. Click the File tab to access Backstage view.
  2. Click Export, then select Create PDF/XPS.
    Exporting a PDF file
  3. The Save As dialog box will appear. Select the location where you want to export the workbook, enter a file name, then click Publish.
    Exporting a PDF file

By default, Excel will only export the active worksheet. If you have multiple worksheets and want to save all of them in the same PDF file, click Options in the Save As dialog box. The Options dialog box will appear. Select Entire workbook, then click OK.

Exporting the entire workbook

Whenever you export a workbook as a PDF, you'll also need to consider how your workbook data will appear on each page of the PDF, just like printing a workbook. Visit our Page Layout and Printing lesson to learn more about what to consider before exporting a workbook as a PDF.

To export a workbook to other file types:

You may also find it helpful to export your workbook to other file types, such as an Excel 97-2003 workbook if you need to share with people using an older version of Excel, or a .CSV file if you need a plain-text version of your workbook.

  1. Click the File tab to access Backstage view.
  2. Click Export, then select Change File Type.
    Clicking Change File Type
  3. Select a common file type, then click Save As.
    Choosing another file type
  4. The Save As dialog box will appear. Select the location where you want to export the workbook, enter a file name, then click Save.
    Saving as an Excel 97-2003 workbook

You can also use the Save as type: drop-down menu in the Save As dialog box to save workbooks in a variety of file types.

Using the Save As type menu to choose a file type

Sharing workbooks

Excel makes it easy to share and collaborate on workbooks using OneDrive. In the past, if you wanted to share a file with someone you could send it as an email attachment. While convenient, this system also creates multiple versions of the same file, which can be difficult to organize.

When you share a workbook from Excel, you're actually giving others access to the exact same file. This lets you and the people you share with edit the same workbook without having to keep track of multiple versions.

In order to share a workbook, it must first be saved to your OneDrive.

To share a workbook:

  1. Click the File tab to access Backstage view, then click Share.

    Clicking Share
  2. The Share pane will appear. If you have not already done so, you will be prompted to save your document to OneDrive. Note that you may need to navigate back to the Share pane after saving.
    Clicking Save to Cloud
  3. On the Share pane, if your document is saved to OneDrive, click the Share with People button.
    Clicking Share with People
  4. Excel will return to Normal view and open the Share panel on the right side of the window. From here, you can invite people to share your document, see a list of who has access to the document, and set whether they can edit or only view the document.
    The Share panel


  1. Open our practice workbook.
  2. Using the Save As option, create a copy of the workbook and name it Saving Practice Challenge. You can save the copy to a folder on your computer or to your OneDrive.
  3. Export the workbook as a PDF file.