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Microsoft Project 2010 : Saving and Protecting Project Files (part 1)

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10/17/2011 5:41:42 PM
When working with Microsoft Project 2010, you will want to know how to manipulate its important files and how file information is organized within the tool.

You can save project files in many different formats when you are working with a group of people and sharing your files. Some of these options include Excel document and XML. When sharing your project file, it is important to protect the data within it and limit the control other people have over it. You might also create or need a custom object such as a calendar or view. The following sections discuss the options you have when saving, protecting, and sharing your project files.

Designating the Default Save Location and Format

When you are using Microsoft Project and save your project, it is saved to the default location—My Documents with the extension .mpp. However, you can modify the default location for storing your project files, as well as their type, by using the Project Options window. In addition, you can also designate the default save location for the user-defined templates that you create yourself.


Previous versions of Microsoft Project also supported a location for saving templates you share with others, referred to as workgroup templates. This feature has been removed from Microsoft Project 2010.

To change the default save location for your files, follow these steps:

Open the Options dialog box by selecting the File tab, Options.

In the Options dialog box, select the Save tab (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The Save tab of the Options dialog box enables you to set options for saving your project files, including the default file type, location, and Auto Save options.

To modify the default save type for the projects you create, select the Save Files in This Format drop-down list and choose between the four available options:

  • Project(*.mpp)— The default Project file type and the recommended option.

  • Microsoft Project 2007(*.mpp)— Saves the Project file to be compatible with Microsoft Office Project 2007.

  • Microsoft Project 2000–2003(*.mpp)— Saves the Project file to be compatible with Microsoft Office Project 2000, 2002, or 2003.

  • Template(*.mpt)— The template file type; used to designate template files within Project.

To modify the default location for saving regular project files or templates, change the Default File location. Browse to the new designated location and click OK to save your changes (refer to Figure 18.1).


You should designate a new location for your project files under the My Documents folder on your computer. This will help you organize your files into one central location and keep them separate from other documents on your computer. Similarly, it is recommended to create a User Templates folder somewhere under My Documents as well. This designates a single location for all of your Project templates and makes locating them much easier. If your organization has standards for organizing your personal files on your computer, this is a great place to integrate those standards and create additional folders to accommodate your project and template files. If your organization is sharing project templates, you could change the file location to the network drive where you all share your project templates. You need to make sure that no one changes the location of the network drive without informing all project managers using the templates if you decide to do this.

You can also set the frequency that Project automatically saves your project file. To do so, select the Auto Save Every check box under the Auto Save section and then enter the number of minutes in the minutes box. This option also enables you to select what kind of projects you want Auto Save to apply to, as well as whether you want to be prompted each time there is an automatic save (see Figure 18.1).

Click OK to save your changes or click Cancel to exit without saving.

Version Compatibility

Microsoft Project 2010 is backward compatible, meaning you can open files that have been created in previous versions of the tool. However, some restrictions apply. For example, if a particular feature has been removed or modified from a previous version, modifications to the project file regarding that feature might not carry over into the new version. In particular, Manual Task mode is a 2010-only feature. If you save a project file into an earlier version, your manual tasks will all have been changed to auto-scheduled, with unpredictable results.


Microsoft Office Project 2000, 2002, and 2003 also had the capability to save project files to be compatible with Microsoft Project 98. However, this hasn’t applied since Project 2007.

Even though Microsoft Project is backward compatible, the same theory does not work when opening project files created in 2010 using the previous versions of the tool. Microsoft Office Project 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2010 do share the same file type for project files (.mpp). However, you have to specifically save the project file from Microsoft Project to the lower version of Microsoft Project in order for the files to be readable by the earlier versions.

To save a Microsoft Project 2010 file to be compatible with one of the previous versions of Microsoft Project (except Project 98), select File, Save As; in the Save as Type drop-down box, select one of the other options, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Microsoft Project 2010 is compatible with Microsoft Project versions 2000–2007, and you can save the file down to those versions to ensure that they can be opened. The Save As dialog box enables you to select filename, location, and file type for saving your project file.

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