Work with Files and Folders

Unlike previous versions of our software, YNAB 4 budgets use more than a single file to contain all of your budget data and are instead contained within a folder of many separate files. All of the files must be present in order for the budget to run. This has to do with how Cloud Sync and autosave work.

Finding your budget folder

The location of your budget folder can be found in the Preferences in YNAB (File menu on Windows, YNAB 4 menu on a Mac). It will show you where your budgets are saved when set up for Cloud Sync or as a Local budget. Once you know where to look for your budget then use a file manager such as Windows Explorer or Finder (on a Mac) and you'll see that it contains the name you gave it followed by a tilde "~", a random series of numbers or letters then ending with ".ynab4" like in the example below.


The name you gave the budget will also appear at the top of the YNAB window but it will not contain the tilde and other characters (as in the '~NCC1701D.ynab4' example above).

Rename your budget

If you want to rename your budget you can do so by way of File>Budget Properties in the YNAB menu. If you rename it directly in a file manager then only rename the budget name alone and not the random numbers and letters part or it may not open again.

Opening your budget

Budgets are best opened by way of 'File>Open' in the YNAB menu. While they can be opened by double clicking them in Finder on a Mac, double clicking them in Windows will only drill down into the folder and will not open the budget.

Saving your budget

YNAB automatically saves your budget at regular intervals and when you quit. If you make a mistake and need to step back in time you can load a historical version by way of File>Load Another Version in the YNAB menu.

If you'd like to save a version of your budget at any point then you can do so using CTRL-S in Windows, CMD-S on a Mac, or File>Save a Version in the YNAB menu.

How often does YNAB auto-save my budget?

YNAB saves your budget every 5 seconds as you work. Aside from that it saves historical versions every 10 minutes, or when you manually save a version.

  • YNAB 4 keeps the last 10 backups no matter what
  • Hourly backups for the past week
  • Daily backups for the past month
  • Monthly backups after that

Open up historical versions of your budget

Historical backups are accessed by way of File>Load Another Version in the YNAB menu. The individual ".y4backup" files that contain these historical versions cannot be opened directly by way of a file manager but instead need to be loaded from within YNAB.

Backing up your budget

Making sure that you have a backup of your budget is extremely important.We do not have access to your private budget folders and cannot recover them for you when you lose them. However, if your budget is set to Cloud Sync then your budget is backed up for you automatically in the cloud and can be retrieved when your computer is stolen, stops working, etc. This applies even if you only use YNAB on a single computer and don't have a smartphone.

Retrieve your backed up budget from Dropbox

If you had your budget set to Cloud Sync and need to retrieve it after a hard drive failure or loss of your computer in some fashion then follow the steps below.

  1. Re-install YNAB
  2. Link your computer to the exact same Dropbox account you had it linked to before
  3. Wait for Dropbox to fully download the budget
  4. Open it as you normally would by way of File>Open in the YNAB menu

Manual copies of your budget

In order to copy your budget to a USB device or other media you must copy the entire budget folder in order for it to open up in YNAB on another machine.

Deleting budgets

Please be absolutely certain that you have the correct folder highlighted before you delete it. We do not have access to your budgets and cannot provide a backup in case you make a mistake.

Select the budget you want to delete in Windows Explorer and tap the [Delete] key on your keyboard to send it to the recycling bin. If you'd like to permanently delete it press and hold the [Shift] key then tap the [Delete] key.

Select the budget you want to delete in Finder, press and hold the [Command] key, then tap the [Delete] key. Your budget should disappear from the Mac Finder, and assuming you have your volume turned on, you'll hear the familiar noise of the files going into the Trash. You can also drag the budget to the trash from Finder.