Can Ableton Auto-Save My Work? (Explained for Beginners)

With any Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), the danger of losing hours of work put into a music project is the fear of every musician and producer.

Saving regularly is always a good idea, but what if you forget to or your music project suddenly crashes?

In this article, we will answer the question of whether or not Ableton Live can Auto-Save your work.

Here’s Whether Ableton Auto-Saves:

Ableton does not have an autosave function built into its software. It has a backup system that keeps the ten most recent saved versions of a project. Users must save their files manually. If Ableton suddenly crashes, when re-opening this DAW, it will show a restore document dialog window.

Laptop open with screen light illuminating keyboard. Headphone rest on keyboard.

Does Ableton Auto-Save My Work by Default?

Ableton Live is one of the most powerful DAWs and is incredibly dynamic in its use for live performance and studio music production.

But does it auto-save your work as you go?

Ableton does not come standard with an auto-save function built into it. What Ableton uses instead, is a backup system whereby it keeps the ten most recent saved versions of a project.

The limitation of this function is that it requires the user to save manually. This feature isn’t intended to fulfill the function of a traditional autosave found in other software programs.

It can, however, be useful if you need to go back to an older version of a project or if you want to undo a series of undesirable changes you made.

How Do You Recover Your Work when Ableton Crashed?

One of the things about Ableton that makes it so popular is its stability. In my extensive use of it on new and old laptops it rarely crashes.

That does not, however, exclude it from the occasional issue. We all know it only takes one bad crash mid-performance or studio session to ruin your day.

If a crash takes place and Ableton closes suddenly, the first action to take is to re-open Ableton.

Ableton will then give you a restore document dialog window; if you click yes to restoring your project then your project will open up and you will be where you were when it crashed.

If you, by mistake, clicked “no” when the option to restore your project appeared, you now need to restore your Ableton project manually.

Follow these steps to restore Ableton manually:

  1. Locate the “Crash” folder by going to this file path:
    • Windows: Users\[Username]\AppData\Roaming\Ableton\Live x.x.x\Preferences\Crash\
    • Mac: Users/[Username]/Library/Roaming/Preferences/Ableton/Live x.x.x/Crash/
    • Please Note: Live x.x.x in this file path refers to the version of Ableton that was used when the crash occurred.
  2. Once the “Crash” folder is located, find the following files that are necessary to recover a set manually:
    • BaseFiles
    • CrashRecoveryInfo.cfg
    • Undo
  3. Rename each file by removing the dates from their names.
  4. Drag these renamed files and folders into the parent folder. If a dialog window does pop up with options to merge, add, or replace then click “replace”.
    • Windows: Ableton\Live x.x.x\Preferences
    • Mac: Preferences/Ableton/Live x.x.x/Crash
  5. Once the four steps above are completed then re-open Ableton Live; the dialog window with the option to restore your crashed project will appear again. Click “Yes”.

Are there any Auto-Save Patches Or Plugins for Ableton?

This is where the good news begins for those after an auto-save function.

There are software patches available that can be installed to help you save your project regularly. One patch that emulates a traditional autosave function is the“Auto Save” patch made by Youtube content creator Tom Cosm.

A link to his channel can be found at the end of this article as well as a link to download.

Once installed, this small plugin gives you the option of setting a countdown timer that reminds you to save at user-defined intervals. You decide how regularly you want to save. When the timer runs out it emulates the action of you clicking “File” and then “Save Live Set As…”.

This is quite a useful patch and, although it doesn’t complete the action of saving automatically, it does force you to save regularly.

What is the Best Way to Ensure Your Work Doesn’t Get Lost?

Below is a list of helpful tips to ensure your work does not get lost.

  1. Make sure to save your project early on its development.
  2. Regularly save your project (make use of some of the useful “save reminder” patches).
  3. Back up your projects to an external hard drive or USB memory drive after every few hours of work.

Where Exactly are Ableton Projects Saved?

Ableton DAW software runs on Windows and MacOS operating systems and each system has its way of handling and saving project files that are set by default.

MacOS users can find their project files by following these steps:

  1. Click Finder
  2. Click “Go” in the top menu bar
  3. Click “Home”
  4. Open the “Music” folder
  5. Open the “Ableton” folder

This “Ableton” folder contains all Ableton-related files including (by default) all saved projects.

Windows users can find their saved projects by using the following these steps:

  1. Open Windows File Explorer
  2. Click on “Documents”
  3. Open the “Ableton” Folder

For your personal organization purposes, it is quite useful to keep everything related to Ableton in this folder. However, you can save projects wherever you would like to on your computer.

What DAWs Have an Autosave Function?

Most DAWs do have a type of Autosave or Backup function and each of them works slightly differently.

Logic Pro X, made by Apple autosaves your projects in the background regularly. These saved projects are primarily used for crashes and software failure.

They are easily accessible manually by following these steps:

  1. Go to the project file.
  2. Right-click and select ‘show package contents’
  3. Open the folder ‘Alternatives’
  4. In the ‘Alternatives’ folder you will find sequential saves of your project.

Another DAW that has a great way of handling its autosave function is Pro Tools.

With the Pro Tools application open, go into the “Operations” tab of your Pro Tool’s preferences and you can activate the autosave function.

Pro Tools even allows you to set how often it will autosave in minutes and the number of autosave copies it will keep.

Final Thoughts

Every DAW has its unique version of an autosave function with each being slightly different and it ultimately comes down to the Users’ preference.

The hope is that this article has helped answer some questions and given some options for alternatives.


Ableton Online Help and Manual
Download Link for Autosave patch
Pro Tools Expert
Home Music Maker Logic Info