6 Ways to Recover Unsaved Word Document

  • Temporary files can help you recover an unsaved Word document.
  • Several recovery methods exist, but no one method is guaranteed to work in all situations.
  • To avoid losing your work, you can enable autosave in Microsoft Word settings.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference Library for more stories.

If you’ve ever lost all your work because you didn’t save your Microsoft Word document, you understand how palpable the pain can be.

Fortunately, Word has come a long way since the dark ages of saving files to floppy disks. These days, if you lose an unsaved Word document, there may always be a way to recover it. The process isn’t guaranteed and you’ll probably have to try several methods before you’re successful, but it’s better than giving up.

Here’s how to recover an unsaved Word document, as well as turn on Word’s autosave feature to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Find the original document

Although you cannot recover your most recent additions, you will still be able to access the original version of your document.

On a PC, open the search bar by pressing the Windows key and type the name of your document. On a Mac, click the Spotlight icon in the upper right corner of your desktop. If your document appears in the file list, you can open it by double-clicking it.

Screenshot of Windows 10 search results for a specific Word file.

Search your computer’s list of files for your missing document.

Chrissy Montelli/Insider

Find Word Backup Files

Sometimes Microsoft Word saves a backup version of a file without prompting you.

Open the folder where your document was most recently saved and look for a file ending in .wbk or WBK. This is the file type associated with Word backup files.

Check the recycling bin

The Recycle Bin is where deleted files go before they are deleted from your computer’s memory.

You can find the Trash on your desktop on a PC or on your dock on a Mac. Double-click it to open it and check the contents of your missing document.

Use Recover Unsaved Documents in Word

1. Open a document in Microsoft Word.

2. Click on Case.

3. Click on Informationso Manage documents.

4. In the dialog box that appears, find your missing document, click it, and then select To open.

5. Once the document is open, click Case and then Save as and save it to a new location.

If you want to save the files manually, you can also do it on Windows by checking one of the following two directories (folders), where is replaced by your Windows user name:

  • C:\Users\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Word
  • C:\Users\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles

Find temporary files

1. Click it To start up menu and genre .tmp (including the period) in the search field.

2. At the top of the search field, click the Documents tongue.

3. Scroll through the files and find the filenames that correspond to the last dates and times you modified the document in question.

Screenshot of Windows search results for tmp files.

You can view information about a temporary file to find out whether or not it is your unsaved document.

Chrissy Montelli/Insider

4. Now open Word and click on the Case tongue.

5. To select To openthen click Browse.

6. Select file format as All the files and navigate to the folder where you located the temporary file(s) in step 3.

7. Open the file.

Enable Auto-Backup or Auto-Recover

AutoSave is an option available to Microsoft 365 subscribers where your Word files are automatically saved to OneDrive or SharePoint. This option can be enabled and configured by turning the AutoSave toggle On at the top of Word.

On the other hand, AutoRecover is a feature available to non-subscribers.

1. Click on Caseso Choiceand click on the Save tab on the left of the window that appears.

2. Click the checkbox next to the Save AutoRecover information every X minutes option so that it has a tick in the box icon.

Screenshot of Word's save options panel.

Set your autosave preferences and click “OK”.

Chrissy Montelli/Insider

3. Make sure the Keep last version automatically fetched if I close without saving the box is also checked and press OKAY.

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