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Excel for Mac: Where Did I Save My File?

10 May 2024

This week in our series about Microsoft Excel for Mac, we discuss how the destination folder is chosen when you save a copy of a file.  This is also applicable to Word and PowerPoint.  Be sure to pay attention to the folder destination when you do ‘Save a Copy’ or ‘Save As’ on a Mac.


Did you ever open a document and then create a copy by going to File -> Save As…?  This is a very common task in all the office applications, including Excel, Word and PowerPoint.  If you use a Mac, you may have been confused after you saved a copy of a file and then went to look for it and you couldn’t find it where expected.  When you save a copy of a file this way, you might expect that the copy would be created in the same folder where the original file is located, but this is not how it works on Mac.

Here are typical steps to make a copy of a file:

  • open it, then go to File -> Save a Copy… (or Save As…)
  • type a new name
  • press Save.

You might expect the new file to be saved into the same folder as the original.  On Windows, that’s how it works.  It seems intuitive.  You simply saved a copy of the file with a new name, but didn’t change the folder destination.

However, it doesn’t work the same way on Mac.  Instead of picking the folder of the original file that you opened, Excel for Mac picks the folder where you last saved or opened any file by going through the File -> Open or File -> Save dialog.  If you open a few files, it will pick the folder of the last file that you opened, which may not be the same as the file you’re trying to copy.

Also, if you open a file by going to the folder in Mac’s Finder app and double-clicking the file, Excel won’t pick that folder as the “last used” folder.  It only uses the last folder where you opened or saved via the File menu in Excel (same for Word and PowerPoint).

Sometimes when the ‘Save a Copy’ dialog appears, it won’t have any folder selected.  You might see that the ‘Recent Folders’ pane appears, but the Save button is greyed out, because no folder has been selected, as shown below.  At least when this happens, you won’t be able to accidentally save the file into a folder you didn’t pick.

Key Takeaway

Always take note of the destination folder when you do ‘Save a Copy…’ or ‘Save As…’ on Mac.  Otherwise, you may need to go searching for your file later.


We hope you find this topic helpful.  Check back for more details about Excel for Mac and how it’s different to Excel for Windows.