Office 2013 Tip: Skip the Cloud Integration

Posted on February 28, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Office with 0

In its drive to integrate OneDrive deeply with all of its core products, Microsoft has made the open and save operations in Office 2013 a bit ponderous. If you’re already syncing your OneDrive content to the PC—or if you intend to only use local folders regardless—you can configure various Office applications to open and save files more efficiently. Here’s how.

Note: This tip applies to any cloud storage service, including Dropbox or Google Drive.

To understand the need, consider how Microsoft Word 2013 works by default. You open Word, type CTRL + S and are confronted by this mess.


What you see here will vary according to how Office is configured on your system, but in my case it consists of OneDrive for Business locations (Sites – Paul Thurrott and OneDrive – Paul Thurrott), consumer OneDrive locations (OneDrive – Personal) and links for Other Web Locations, Computer and Add a Place. That’s a lot of stuff. But more important, it’s a lot of stuff that is getting in my way of just saving the damn document and getting to work.

Because I use Word all day every day, this interface represents an extra steps—really steps—that I don’t need or want. In my case, I always want to save new documents to the same place, and then I archive them after I’m done working on them. Of course, everyone works differently. So let’s look at two core scenarios.

The first one applies to most people, I think: you simply want to save Word documents to some default location. In the old days, this might have been the Documents folder in your user profile (C:\Users\your user name\Documents by default). These days, that location might be the Document folder in your OneDrive folder, and if you followed my instructions in OneDrive Tip: Use Documents and Other Libraries with OneDrive, your PC is already configured to use that location by default for documents. So Word’s silly interface here—called Backstage for the morbidly curious—is just getting in the way.

The second scenario is my own workflow. When I save a new Word document—as I do several times each morning as I ramp up for a day of work, I want to save them to the desktop so I can move through them in turn and then archive them wherever in OneDrive when I’m done. So in my case, yes, Backstage is absolutely getting in the way: To save that file to the desktop, I have to click Computer and then Desktop under Recent Folders. Only then—after three clicks—does the location I want appear in a Save As dialog.

So let’s fix that. Let’s remove the cloud integration bit—indeed, let’s remove Backstage entirely—from the file save operation. Let’s just save documents to the location we prefer. Whatever that location may be.

To do so, open Word and select File and then Options. In the Options window that appears, select Save. The key bits are highlighted below.


Make the following configuration changes.

Select the option “Don’t show the Backstage when opening or saving files.” You don’t need it, and that’s true even if you’re using both OneDrive (consumer) and OneDrive for Business, as both locations will be available in the File Open and File Save As dialog that appear in Word (and other Office applications).

Select the option “Save to Computer by default.” You’re syncing OneDrive with your Documents library anyway. Your OneDrive Documents folder is available on your computer via File Explorer.

Change the default local file location to the folder of your choice. If you’re using the OneDrive Documents folder, change it to C:\Users\your user name\OneDrive\Documents. In my case, I change it to C:\Users\Paul\Desktop\.

Click OK.

Now, when you save a new document or try to open a document, the Desktop will appear in a normal File Open/Save As dialog box as God intended. And if you do need to access your OneDrive or OneDrive for Business (or Dropbox, or Google Drive, or whatever) folders, they’re already synced to the PC, so they’re available from the dialog too.


Note: You will need to make these changes from whatever document-based Office applications you use. So if you’re an Excel or PowerPoint user, for example, you will need to configure each separately.

Note: If you don’t want to make all these configuration changes and don’t mind using a non-standard keyboard shortcut, typing F12 at any time in an Office document will display the Save As dialog as well. Personally, I find CTRL + S to be more natural.

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