- Temporary files may allow you to recover an unsaved Word document.
- Multiple recovery methods exist, but no one method is guaranteed to work in every situation.
- To prevent losing your work, you can enable auto-saving in Microsoft Word’s settings.
- Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.
If you’ve ever lost all of 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 backing up files on floppy disks. Nowadays, if you lose an unsaved Word document, there might still be a way to recover it. The process isn’t guaranteed, and you’ll likely have to try multiple methods before you find success, but it’s better than just giving up.
Here’s how to recover an unsaved Word document, as well as enable Word’s AutoSave feature to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Search for the original document
While you may not be able to recover your most recent additions, you might 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.
Search for Word backup files
Sometimes, Microsoft Word will save a backup version of a file without your prompting.
Open the folder in which 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 removed from your computer’s memory.
You can find the Recycle Bin on your desktop on a PC, or on your dock on a Mac. Double-click on it to open it and check the contents for your missing document.
Use Recover Unsaved Documents in Word
1. Open a document in Microsoft Word.
2. Click on File.
3. Click on Info, then Manage Document.
4. In the dialog window that appears, search for your missing document, click on it, and then select Open.
5. Once the document is opened, click File and then Save As and save it to a new location.
If you want to save the files manually, this can also be done on Windows by checking either of the following two directories (folders), where is replaced with your Windows username:
Search for temporary files
1. Click the Start menu and type .tmp (including the period) into the search box.
2. At the top of the search box, click on the Documents tab.
3. Scroll through the files and search for file names that match the last few dates and times that you edited the document in question.
4. Now, open Word and click on the File tab.
5. Select Open, then click on Browse.
6. Select the file format as All Files and navigate to the folder where you located the temp file(s) in step 3.
7. Open the file.
Enable AutoSave or AutoRecover
AutoSave is an option available to Microsoft 365 subscribers whereby your Word files are automatically saved to OneDrive or SharePoint. This option can be turned on and configured by turning the AutoSave toggle On at the top of Word.
On the other hand, AutoRecover is a feature accessible to non-subscribers.
1. Click on File, then Options, and click on the Save tab on the left of the window that appears.
2. Click the checkbox beside the Save AutoRecover information every X minutes option so that it has a check mark in the box icon.
3. Make sure that the Keep the last AutoRecovered Version if I close without saving box is also checked and press OK.