How to Change the Default Save Type in Excel for Mac: A Step-by-Step Guide

Changing the default save type in Excel for Mac is a breeze! All you have to do is open Excel, head to Preferences, click on the Save tab, and then select the preferred file format from the ‘Save files in this format’ drop-down menu. And just like that, you’re all set!

After you complete this action, every new Excel file you create will automatically save in the format you’ve selected. This means you won’t have to manually change the format each time you save a new file, saving you time and hassle.


Ever found yourself repeatedly changing the file format every time you save a new Excel document? It’s a minor annoyance, but it adds up over time. Excel for Mac, like its Windows counterpart, comes with a default save type – usually, this is the .xlsx format. But what if you need to consistently save your files in a different format, maybe for compatibility with other software or to meet the requirements of your workplace? That’s where changing the default save type comes into play.

This topic is crucial for anyone using Excel for Mac, whether you’re a student, professional, or just someone who loves organizing data with spreadsheets. By customizing your Excel settings to your specific needs, you not only streamline your workflow but also ensure that your files are always in the right format, ready to be shared or processed further.

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Change the Default Save Type in Excel for Mac

Before diving into the steps, let’s clarify what we’re doing. By following these steps, you’ll be setting a new default save format for all your future Excel files. This doesn’t change the format of existing files, just the ones you’ll create from here on out.

Step 1: Open Excel on your Mac

Launch the Excel application.

Starting with the basics, make sure you’ve got Excel up and running on your Mac. You can find it in your Applications folder or search for it using Spotlight.

Step 2: Access Preferences

Navigate to ‘Excel’ in the menu bar and select ‘Preferences’.

In the Preferences window, you’ll see a bunch of settings and options. This is where you can tweak Excel to work just the way you like it.

Step 3: Click on the Save tab

Within the Preferences dialog, find and click on the ‘Save’ tab.

The Save tab is where all the magic happens – it’s where you can control how your documents are saved by default.

Step 4: Select your preferred file format

Use the ‘Save files in this format’ drop-down menu to choose your new default save type.

Excel for Mac supports multiple file formats, so make sure you pick the one that best suits your needs.


Time-savingBy setting a new default save type, you eliminate the need to manually select the desired format each time you save a new file. This can save a significant amount of time, especially for those who work with Excel frequently.
ConsistencyHaving a consistent file format is crucial, particularly in a collaborative environment. It ensures that everyone is working with the same file type, which can reduce compatibility issues.
Workflow optimizationTailoring Excel to your specific needs can enhance your overall workflow. By having your preferred format set as default, your files are always ready for the next step, be it sharing, printing, or further analysis.


Limited to new filesChanging the default save type only affects new Excel files. If you need to change existing files to a new format, you’ll still have to do that manually.
Potential for confusionIf you’re used to the default .xlsx format, switching to a new default might take some getting used to. There’s a chance of saving a file in the wrong format out of habit.
Compatibility issuesWhile changing the default save type can help with compatibility, it can also hinder it. Be sure you’re choosing a format that is widely accepted and can be opened by other software or users you work with.

Additional Information

When you’re changing the default save type in Excel for Mac, it’s important to consider the format you’re switching to. Different formats have different benefits – for instance, .xls is great for backward compatibility with older versions of Excel, while .csv is perfect for data exchange with a variety of applications. Also, remember that some features may not be supported in all file formats. For instance, Macros won’t work in .csv files.

Another tip is to remember that changing the default save type won’t alter the format of files you’ve received from others. So, if someone sends you an Excel file in a different format, it’ll stay that way unless you save it as another type.

Lastly, don’t forget that this setting change only applies to Excel on your Mac. If you work on multiple devices or share files with others, you’ll need to ensure the default save type is changed on those systems too, if necessary.


  1. Open Excel on your Mac.
  2. Navigate to ‘Excel’ in the menu bar and select ‘Preferences’.
  3. Click on the ‘Save’ tab within the Preferences dialog.
  4. Use the ‘Save files in this format’ drop-down menu to choose your new default save type.

Frequently Asked Questions

What file formats can I set as the default in Excel for Mac?

You can set various formats such as .xlsx, .xls, .csv, and more as your default save type.

Will changing the default save type affect existing Excel files?

No, it will only affect new files that you create after making the change.

Can I change the default save type to a format not listed in the drop-down menu?

No, you can only choose from the formats provided by Excel.

If I set a new default save type, can I still save files in other formats when needed?

Yes, you can still save individual files in different formats through the ‘Save As’ option.

Does changing the default save type on my Mac affect Excel on other devices?

No, this change is local to your Mac. You’ll need to adjust the settings on other devices separately.


Mastering how to change the default save type in Excel for Mac is a simple yet powerful way to boost your productivity and tailor your spreadsheet experience to your specific needs. By taking a few moments to adjust this setting, you can save time, maintain consistency across your files, and optimize your workflow.

Remember that while this change can greatly benefit your work, it’s important to choose a file format that aligns with your requirements and guarantees compatibility with other software and users. So, go ahead, take control of your Excel settings, and make the app work for you!

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