Recovering unsaved Word documents | ENBLE

Recovering unsaved Word documents | ENBLE

How to Recover Unsaved Word Documents

We’ve all been there. We’re so focused on working on a Word document that we may forget to save it and then exit without thinking — not to mention system errors or Microsoft Word itself crashing. But fear not! Conveniently, Microsoft provides a useful feature for the program that can recover everything you might have lost.

The Recover Unsaved Documents Tool

Microsoft Word has a specific tool you can use to recover an unsaved document. It’s the Recover Unsaved Documents option. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Within Microsoft Word, after you open a new, blank document, select the File tab. Then choose the Info tab if it’s not already selected by default.

    Selecting the Recover Unsaved Documents option
  2. Select the Manage document button.

  3. Choose the Recover unsaved documents option that appears in the menu that pops up.

  4. Word will display an Open window that should contain your unsaved document. If your unsaved document is listed, select it and then select the Open button on that window.

    The Open window that contains unsaved Word documents
  5. After you’ve opened it, Word will show a message at the top of your document stating that you’re accessing a recovered file, along with a button to save the file itself (Save as). Go ahead and select that button and follow the usual steps to save your document.

    Selecting the Save as button within the Recovered Unsaved File message banner

Using Document Recovery

If for any reason Microsoft Word crashes while you have an unsaved document open, start Microsoft Word up again. If Word is able to retrieve it, a Document Recovery section will show up on the left side with a timestamp of when it is recovering it from. Select the drop-down menu next to the file’s name and choose the Save As option to safely store it on your PC.

There is one exception to the above, and that’s if you have a Microsoft 365 subscription. If that’s the case, according to this Microsoft Learn guide, restarting Word will usually open up any recovered file and display a message with a Save button. For situations with multiple recovered files, the most recently edited recovered file will be opened, and the other files will be placed in the Document Recovery section.

Manually Searching for AutoRecover Files

Are none of the above methods working? You can also recover unsaved Word documents through Microsoft’s AutoRecover feature.

  1. Select your Windows Start button and search for .asd. Make a note of the location of these files.

    Alternatively, in Word, go to File and then select More > Options. Within the sidebar is the Save tab. Select that and then manually copy and paste the AutoRecover file location field into a File Explorer window.

    AutoRecover file location
  2. If your system finds any Word documents with the .asd extension, go to Word and choose File at the top. Select the Open and Browse tabs.

  3. As .asd is not a common file type, you’ll need to select the All files drop-down list and choose All files so it shows up.

    Selecting All files
  4. Select the .asd file and choose Open.

Search Your Temporary Files

If you can’t find any results for the .asd extension, then you can also try the .tmp extension, which represents temporary files.

  1. In File Explorer, search for .tmp.

    Alternatively, most .tmp files are located within your Documents folder. Navigate to: C:\Users\[yourusernamehere]\Documents and search for .tmp within this location.

    Search for .tmp files
  2. In Microsoft Word, select File and then Open. Choose Folders. Go to the folder where you found the .tmp files. Again, be sure to select the types of files list and choose All files or you won’t be able to view files with the .tmp extension. Finally, select the file and choose Open.

Enable the Backup Copy Option and Search Your Backup Files

Another way Microsoft Word stores documents is via the .wbk extension, which is the name associated with backup files.

  1. The Backup copy option has to have been enabled. Go to File > More > Options > Advanced, and then navigate to the Save section. Tick the checkbox next to the Always create backup copy option. Then select OK.

    Enabling the Backup copy option
  2. In File Explorer, search for .wbk. If your system contains any .wbk files, they will be named as Backup of, immediately followed by the name you had assigned to your missing file. Simply double-click the file to open it in Word.

Microsoft’s official Learn guide on the subject notes that Microsoft 365 subscribers may need to use a different method for locating their backup files, which involves copying and pasting the following locations into File Explorer:

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

Be sure to omit the brackets when you fill in the “yourusernamehere” section with your actual username.

Putting Safe Measures in Place

Relying on the aforementioned methods to recover unsaved Word documents may not always bear fruit. Therefore, modifying the AutoSave tool for Word can save you from any potential mishaps in the future in the event you can’t recover a document.

  1. At the top of Microsoft Word, select File, choose More > Options, and then choose the Save tab.

    Here, you can customize aspects such as how often your documents are saved. Modify the options provided to your liking and then select the OK button at the bottom.

    Modifying AutoSave options
  2. Enable the Backup copy option as mentioned earlier. Go to File > More > Options > Advanced, and navigate to the Save section. Tick the checkbox next to the Always create backup copy option. Then select OK.

By following these steps and taking some preventive measures, you can minimize the risk of losing your valuable work and ensure a more secure and stress-free document creation process in Microsoft Word.