Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Excel versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Excel 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Excel, click here: Changing an Invalid Autosave Folder.

Changing an Invalid Autosave Folder

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 15, 2014)

Michael's laptop used to be connected to a business LAN and he used mapped drives (O:, P:, etc.) for file saves. He is no longer on the network, and Excel has remembered a P:\Autosave folder destination for Autosave, which is no longer valid. Michael can't pull up the dialog box to change the file location, as he gets an error message every time saying "Can't access directory P:\Autosave". Michael wonders if there is another way to modify his Autosave folder location.

There are several ways you can go about trying to change this. One method is to simply "map" another drive so that the operating system directs any request for drive P: to that drive. There are various methods to do this, such as using the SUBST command. This is an old DOS command that allows a folder (such as C:\MyFolder\MyTemp or some other name) to be "substituted" for a drive letter. Just create the temporary folder and then use the following at the command prompt:

subst P: c:\myfolder\mytemp

You can then access the P: drive (which is really the folder), create the Autosave folder within it, start Excel, make your folder change, and exit Excel. When you want to get rid of the mapping, use the following at the command prompt:

subst P: /d

You can then get rid of the temporary folders you created. Another way to accomplish the same result is to use the NET USE command. Create the temporary folders, as described above, and then share them on your network. (Right-click the folder in a Windows Explorer window and specify it should be shared.) You can then map the drive by using the following at the command line:

net use P: \\ComputerName\ShareName

In this instance you need to replace "ComputerName" with the name of your computer and "ShareName" with the name under which you shared the folder. After the command is successfully used, then all references to P: will redirect to the shared folder. When you are done making the changes you need, use the following command-line command to get rid of the share:

net use P: /delete

You could also try to map a drive by using a USB drive. Use the disk management tools in the Control Panel to change the drive letter of the USB drive to P:. Once this is done you can easily change the Autosave directory in Excel.

If you don't want to take the route of mapping a new drive, you can always try to edit the Registry. Try examining the data in the following key to see if you can locate the folder designation:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Excel\Options

You'll need to change the key name depending on your version of Excel; this example is for Excel 2003. All you need to do is change the "11.0" portion to reflect the version you are using. (Look for the AutoRecoverPath key.) If you locate the path to the Autosave folder in the key, simply delete it or change it to point to an available path.

ExcelTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Excel training. This tip (7536) applies to Microsoft Excel 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Excel (Excel 2007 and later) here: Changing an Invalid Autosave Folder.

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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