How to recover an unsaved excel file

Updated July 20, 2017

As you're running out the door, in a hurry, you realise you forgot to save the latest version of your work in Excel. Alternately, your computer may have crashed or run out of battery before you can save your most recent work. Before despairing, realise that these common problems are easily fixed in Excel 10. Microsoft Office includes the ability to recover both an unsaved workbook that's newly created as well as the most recent previous version of an Excel workbook.

Open Excel and select the "File" menu.

Choose "Recent" and then "Recover Unsaved Workbooks." The saved drafts folder opens on your desktop.

Select the file you were working on and forgot to save. Select "File," and then "Save As."

Open Excel and select the workbook in which you were working.

Select "File," and then "Info."

From the list of versions, click the one labelled "when I closed without saving."

Click "Restore" from the business bar. This selection overwrites the previous version of the workbook to the last version autosaved.


Get yourself into the habit of saving your work every couple of minutes.


Never walk away from your computer without first saving your work. Never open a new program or file before saving other documents that are already open.

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About the Author

Michael Hall is a freelance musician with a wide range of extracurricular interests. He has led men's wilderness trips in Canada and worked on medical teams serving the poor in India. He has been a funds analyst for the National Institutes of Health and a Registrar for an online school. Currently, he plays principal horn with the National Philharmonic in Bethesda, Maryland.