Recovering Unsaved Files and Edits

It’s a sad and frustrating occurrence that happens to the best of us…you’re working hard to wrap up a document due by the end of the day when your computer crashes, the lights go out, or the program you’re working in just locks up unexpectedly. Once everything is back up and running, panic sets in as you realize you didn’t save your work. Perhaps you deliberately closed the program, but accidentally hit Don’t Save instead of the Save button (I know I’ve done that before). Regardless, it is a disheartening feeling to think that all that hard work was just flushed down the drain in an instant.

Luckily, several programs in Microsoft Office 2010 provide us with a safety net for those occasions when we lose what we’ve created. When creating documents in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Office can automatically save documents in a temporary location so you can retrieve the file in the event it is prematurely closed. In order to do this, however, you need to make sure Office is configured to auto recover and auto save your documents.

  1. In each program, select the File menu and click on Options from the left hand menu.
  2. Click on Save from the left hand menu.
  3. Ensure that both Save AutoRecover information every XX minutes and Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving are checked.
  4. Click on OK.


Recovering New Files

New files you’ve developed that haven’t yet been saved can be recovered by completing the following steps:

  1. In the program you’re working in, select the File menu and click on Info from the left-hand menu.
  2. Click on Manage Versions.
  3. Click on Recover Unsaved Documents. (In Excel, this is called Recover Unsaved Workbooks and in PowerPoint it’s called Recover Unsaved Presentations).
    NOTE: You can also select File — Recent and then click on Recover Unsaved Documents at the bottom right corner of the screen.
  4. In the dialog box that appears, click on the file you need to recover to highlight it and then click on Open.
  5. The file will then open in the program you are using and immediately prompt you to save the document. Click on Save As in the status bar at the top of the screen and save the document to a location of your choice for future access.


Recovering Current Files

If you’re updating an existing file and forget to save changes, you can recover the changes you made by completing the following:

  1. Open the file you were working in, select the File menu and click on Info from the left-hand menu.
  2. Under Versions, click on the most recent entry labeled (when I closed without saving).
  3. The file with the changes you made will automatically display. Click on Restore in the status bar at the top of the screen.
  4. You’ll receive a popup that states, You are about to overwrite the last saved version with the selected version. Click OK.
  5. Your document is now saved with the edits you previously made, but didn’t save.


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Posted in General I.T. Knowledge
31 comments on “Recovering Unsaved Files and Edits
  1. Ang Hui Ting says:

    Dear Norberto.Valladares,

    Thank you so much for sharing the way to recover unsaved files, under “Recovering Unsaved Files and Edits”.

    I was doing my work and i accidentally closed my new ms word doc with clicking on “don’t save”. I panicked, and felt discouraged. I know there is auto-recovery in an event where the laptop crush or shut off, but i have never heard cases where I could recover a new word doc after I blindly clicked ‘Don’t Save’. Nevertheless, I thought of trying my luck and google, while having tears in my eyes. And, THANK GOD! And THANK YOU!!! for sharing this ‘tip’.

    Once again, I am really thankful and grateful. May God Bless You, and have a nice day ahead!

  2. Alycia says:

    You absolutely just saved me so many hours of work!
    God bless you!

  3. Sarifo says:

    Thank you a lot for the help, I was feeling so bad after I blindly clicked on Don’t Save button and apparently lost my work. However, there is always an angel like you to save us from trouble.

  4. lamech says:

    Thank for that clear explanation. Much of help today after i almost started working on a document again.

  5. sunil says:

    how can I recover the unsaved file from MS Office 2007?

  6. MS says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! I was about to die that I had lost few hours of work!

  7. frances says:

    what about for a publisher doc? there are no “versions” or an option to allow it to keep unsaved changes…is there any hope for me?

  8. Christie says:

    Hi Norberto is there a way to recover unsaved work from the San jac blackboard..I had just gotten done with an assignment to be posted on the discussion board of blackboard and I clicked submit and my laptop refreshed and took me back to the login page..I’m so upset and frustrated

    • Norberto.Valladares says:

      Hello Christie. I spoke with our folks at Blackboard Support and they responded back with the following: Unfortunately, the content is gone. It sounds like the student was logged out of Bb, maybe due to inactivity or a Wi-Fi connection issue, and the DB tool does not allow the students to save as they go along like a test does. I usually tell the students that when I was an online student, I did all of my work in Word first and then I would copy and paste into the DB thread. For me, this was perfect because Spell checker is my friend! I also didn’t have to be online as I was doing the work.

  9. sukhmani says:

    Is this a way to do this in office 2011 mac?

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for this post, this just brought me back off the edge of a total nervous breakdown!!!!

  11. Ana says:

    From the bottom of my heart thank you so much!!!! Honestly this was a life-saver. I had a mental meltdown/tantrum when i thought my hours of editing were lost forever and even tried shutting down my computer thinking it might recover the unsaved edited file…long story short NOTHING worked and had it not been for the blessing that is this post i just might have dropped out of school
    But in all seriousness THANK YOU!!!

  12. Adrian Nelson says:

    Thank you so much. It’s 2209hrs, I am tired and working on a PowerPoint for a free class I volunteered to teach to assist people in getting a professional designation. I hit the ‘x’ by accident and my heart dropped after 41 wasted slides. Thank you to google and you for saving all my work. I literally only lost two bullet points.

    This is one of the best posts on the Internet I have ever seen!


  13. Miryam says:

    Thank you so much!!!!!!!

  14. Tressa says:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH! My world just averted a total crash thanks to this article!

  15. Jade Strachan says:

    Hello, I’ve just been a divvy and done the exact same thing! How can I retrieve a deleted file on PowerPoint but on the iPad? As the layout is very different to a computer so I assume the process isn’t the same to recover it. It’s very important final work.
    Please help if you could!

    Jade x

  16. Kanisha says:

    This site helped save my job thank you so much.

  17. spencer says:

    Hello, I have tried your procedure with word 2013. No success. is there a difference?

  18. Sam says:

    Thank you very much you dont know how worried I am for the unsaved edits of my document because it’s my thesis and ive work the whole day for it. Thank you so much!!! God bless

  19. Jessa Mae says:

    How about if its not Word,
    What if its Publisher?
    How to do it?

  20. pam says:

    Thank you very much you have save me today haha

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