As legal document experts, we’ve seen it all. Therefore, we’ve compiled a series of helpful tips for when problems arise in Microsoft applications.

How to Recover an Unsaved Document

One of the worst feelings a Microsoft user can have is realizing you’ve closed a document, spreadsheet or presentation that you haven’t saved.

While you’re often prompted to confirm you want to save changes before closing, sometimes you’re busy and click the wrong button. Or your computer freezes and you have to restart your system, as well as all your hard work.

The best advice is to constantly hit the Save button (or ctrl + s). However, for the times you haven’t done that or when circumstances are out of your control, there are ways to recover a document that hasn’t been saved. 

Immediate Steps

These steps are specifically for Office 2016, but very similar ones can be applied to Office 2010.

  1. Open the application that you were using (i.e. Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint).
  2. Click on the File tab.
  3. Under Info you’ll see Manage Document – click on that dropdown menu.
  4. Choose the Recover Unsaved Documents option (Recover Unsaved Workbooks for Excel and Recover Unsaved Presentations for PowerPoint). This will take you to a dialog box where you can select the document you want to reopen.
  5. Once the document is open, choose Save As at the top so you don’t lose it again.

Set Up AutoRecover

If you find that your documents are not being saved or recovered automatically, you need to adjust some settings. Microsoft Office automation allows for automatic recovery.

Find the Options button in your Microsoft application (either under the Help tab or File tab) and choose Save. There you’ll see two lines:

  • Save AutoRecover information every x minutes
  • Keep the last AutoRecovered version if I close without saving

Make sure both check-boxes are selected. Once this is done, you won’t have any issues finding unsaved documents, workbooks, and/or presentations.


If you ever want to browse your computer for the recovered files, you can find them at either of these locations, depending on your operating system:

  • Windows 7/Windows Vista: C:\Users\User_Name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles
  • Windows XP:

C:\Documents and Settings\User_Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles

You can also find their location from the same Options-Save box where you select your AutoRecover options, as detailed above.

These file locations cannot be changed, and the files are only stored for four days after they’re created. So the document you accidentally closed a week ago without saving is gone.


Save. Save. Save.

You work too hard to have your time and effort wasted simply because of a mis-click or a power failure. Always save your work and make sure your applications are auto-saving for you. If you follow those two methods, you’ll never have that panicked feeling again.

For more information on our software solutions or IT services, contact us today.