Tips to Recover an Unsaved Word Document

Did you work long and hard on a Word document only to lose your work? Computers can be your best friend or your worst enemy as you watch all your hard work disappear.

With more than 1.2 billion Office users worldwide, you are not the only one to face this unthinkable loss. Whether your system crashed, you forgot to save, or your power turned off, your frustration is all the same.

Wondering if your precious work is really lost? Keep reading for ways to recover an unsaved Word document.

Check Documents

This is the first thing you should try in Word. Go to File. Then Manage Documents.

Click on Recover Unsaved Documents. If the document is listed, select it.

You can also see if there is a backup Go to File>Open>Browse. You can then search for the file backup.

Another way to check is to go to Windows Explorer. Look for any temp files or recover files that could be your lost Word document.

Go to Recycle Bin

If you were unable to find your document in Word, your next step is to head over to your desktop and open the Recycle Bin. This is a great place to look if you accidentally delete a file as well or need something you deleted. After you are in the Recycle Bin, you can search for your file by either file type, date deleted, or document name.

If you are lucky enough to find your document, make note of its location. This is where these documents are automatically restored if you should be so unfortunate a second time.

You can then restore your deleted document or click Quick Access to look in Recent Files.

Recover a Mac Word Document

Are you wondering how to find unsaved Word documents Mac? Luckily as a default, Word for Mac has AutoRecover enabled. This helps protect you if your computer shuts down unexpectedly or if you click out of Word by accident.

When you enter back into Word, you will be prompted to see if you would like to open the recovered file. If you don’t see that prompt, you can always head to the AutoRecover folder to search for the file.

If you have Word for Mac 2016 version, you need to show hidden files. After you activate that feature, you can then search for your lost document by Opening Folder. Click on the Home icon from the left column.

Then Open Library/Containers/com.Microsoft.Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery. You can find all of your documents saved from AutoRecover here.

Recover a Document in Word Online

Did you use Word Online? If so, you are in luck. There is no Save button because the changes are automatically saved online. You may be missing a few last-minute edits before you left Word, so you should double-check those.

Use Task Manager

You can also try Task Manager on Windows to recover a Word document. This does require you to end all your Word processes and to restart Word.

To do this:

  • Launch Task Manager
  • Select Processes tab
  • Under apps, check for Word
  • Select the app and hit End Task
  • Close Task Manager
  • Launch Word

You can then check to see if your file shows up under the Document Recovery pane, which is lodged on the left window. If there are files, double-click to open.

Use the Manage Document Feature on Microsoft Word

Word does have a feature called Manage Document that you can use to recover unsaved files. To do this:

  • Launch Word
  • Go to the File tab at the top
  • Choose Info
  • Select Manage Dcouments
  • Select Recover Unsaved Documents

You should be able to see your documents in this area. Double-click on your document title to open.

Prevent Future Disasters

There are ways to save yourself from the stress and worry of losing a document. You won’t waste your time trying to find a lost Word document.

If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription, you can use Autosave to save all your changes in real-time. Autosave is enabled each time you save a file to SharePoint or OneDrive. In addition, Word automatically saves changes to the cloud every few seconds.

You need to enable the AutoSave feature. To do this, go to the AutoSave button in the upper-left corner of your Word window.

If you are not a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you can still enable Auto Recover for saving changes. To do this:

  • Go to the File tab
  • Select Options
  • Select Save AutoRecover Information
  • Enter a number in the Minutes box (like 5 or 10)
  • Select Keep the Last AutoRecovered Version if I Close Without Saving

This allows you to recover and open the most recent version, which may not be complete, but it’s better than nothing at all. You can also change where your AutoRecover saves files. Select the Browse button and navigate where you want your computer to save files.

Makes sure you select OK to save your changes to any of your Word options.

How to Recover an Unsaved Word Document

By following these steps, hopefully, you can recover an unsaved Word document. Make sure your AutoSave feature is enabled to prevent problems in the future. Unfortunately, even if you are careful, you never know when you may lose a Word document. This is why it’s best to have Word help you by saving your changes every few minutes or seconds.

Looking for more Word or any tech advice? You’ve come to the right spot. Keep exploring our site for more insightful articles on technology and how you can make your life easier.


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