File Preferences
Command entry:Customize menu Preferences Preference Settings dialog Files tab

On the Files panel of the Preference Settings dialog, you set options relating to file handling. You can choose the program used for archiving and control the options for log file maintenance. And the Auto Backup function lets you save your work automatically at defined intervals.


File Handling group

Convert file paths to UNC

When on, paths shown in the user interface for any files present on a mapped drive use Universal Naming Convention (UNC) format. When off, each path starts with the mapped drive letter (for example, w:\).

This check box is linked to the Convert file paths to UNC switch on the Asset Tracking dialog Paths menu. Toggling either one toggles both.

NoteThis switch affects only newly added paths. Toggling it has no effect on existing paths. For example, if you load an image file into a Bitmap map from a mapped drive with the switch on, turning it off does not change the file path to the mapped version.
Convert local paths to Relative

Converts the file paths of all newly added assets in a scene so that they are relative to the project folder. Default=off.

NoteThis is a system setting and is not saved with the scene file.
Backup on Save

Creates a backup file if a file of the same name already exists. The existing file is renamed maxback.bak and placed in the autoback directory before the save occurs. You can edit the automatic backup settings in the Auto Backup group. Default=on.

Increment on Save

Creates a new copy of the file in the same directory whenever you save the file. The name of the new file is incremented by 1 (filename01.max, filename02.max, and so on). Default=off.

Compress on Save

Saves the 3ds Max file in a compressed format. Depending on the details of the file, the compressed file can be as small as one-fifth the size of its uncompressed equivalent. Default=off.

Save Viewport Thumbnail Image

Saves a 64-pixel thumbnail of the active viewport when you save each MAX file. The Asset Browser reads thumbnails. Saving thumbnails adds about 9K to each MAX file. Default=on.

Save Schematic View

When on, the active schematic view is saved with the MAX file. Default=on.

Save File Properties

When on, any data entered in the File Properties dialog is saved with the scene file and can be accessed with Windows Explorer and File Finder. When off, the file properties information is not stored with the file. Default=on.

Display Obsolete File Message

Turns off the "Obsolete data format found - Please resave file" alert that is displayed when you load a MAX file created in an earlier version of 3ds Max. Default=on.

There is a matching "Do not display this message" check box in the alert itself, and you can also turn off the alert from there.

Reload textures on change

When on, reloads bitmapped textures if the date of the bitmap file has been updated. Default=on.

Recent Files in File Menu

Sets the maximum number of recently edited MAX files to display in the Application menu’s Recent Documents page. Range=0 to 50. Default=10.

Auto Backup group

Auto Backup saves your work periodically. In the event of a power failure, if you have not saved your work, you can load an auto backup (autoback) file and continue working with little lost work.

Auto Backup creates auto backup files based on a time interval. The name of an auto backup file is autobackupNN.max, where autobackup is the main part of the name (autobackup is the default), and NN is an integer from 1 to 99.

For example, if you've set Auto Backup to create three auto backup files at one-minute intervals, Auto Backup will create autobackup1.max, and then a minute later autobackup2.max, and then autobackup3.max. At the fourth minute, the system overwrites autobackup1.max, and so on.

The default folder for auto backup files is:

  • Windows 7:

    C:/users/<username>/my documents/3dsmax/autoback/ (or "3dsmaxdesign" for 3ds Max Design)

  • Vista:

    C:/users/<username>/documents/3dsmax/autoback/ (or "3dsmaxdesign" for 3ds Max Design)

  • Windows XP:

    C:/documents and settings/<username>/my documents/3dsmax/autoback (or "3dsmaxdesign" for 3ds Max Design)

However, if you have set a project folder, the /autoback folder is in that project.


Toggles Auto Backup.

Number of Autobak Files

The number of backup files to write before overwriting the first one. Range=1 to 99. Default=3.

Backup Interval (minutes)

The number of minutes between backup file generation. Default=5.0.

NoteThis interval takes effect only when the scene changes; for example, if you move an object or apply a modifier. If nothing changes, for example, if you leave your computer for a while, then no backups are created. Also, if you save the scene file manually, Auto Backup resets the Backup Interval timer.
Auto Backup File Name

Lets you enter an alternative name for the auto backup file. Auto backup files with a different name still have the filename extension .max. Default=AutoBackup.

Log File Maintenance group

The following controls affect the max.log file.

Never Delete Log

Determines how long the log file is maintained. When you choose Never Delete, the max.log file remains on the hard disk and continues to grow.

Maintain Only...Days

Resets the file to zero bytes after it reaches the number of days specified in this field.

Maintain Only... Kbytes

Resets the file to zero bytes after it reaches the number of kilobytes specified in this field.


Writes fatal errors to the max.log file instead of generating Alert dialogs. Alerts halt network rendering for one or more servers.


Writes warning messages to the max.log file instead of generating Alert dialogs.


Writes general information to the max.log file instead of generating Alert dialogs.


Writes debug messages to the max.log file instead of generating Alert dialogs.

The type of errors covered by these four categories include maps that can't be found, missing UV coordinates, missing output directories, full disks, missing DLLs, disks to which you don't have access, invalid meshes, and obsolete MAX files

Import Options group

Zoom Extents on Import

Automatically zooms all viewports to scene extents after importing a file.

Archive System group


Specifies the name and location of the program to use for archiving. The archive program must be independently installed on your system. You can add command-line arguments to follow the executable file name. For example, for the PKZIP program, the arguments might be: c:proj0?.max -o