How to Recover Unsaved Documents in Word

Written by alexis lawrence
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When Microsoft Word closes unexpectedly while you are in the midst of working on a document, you can usually recover part or all of the file using Word’s built-in AutoRecover feature. If you accidentally close a file without saving it, however, and it is not due to the unexpected closing of Word, but simply user error, the file is more difficult to recover.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Launch Microsoft Word if Word closed unexpectedly and did not reopen. If you do not have a desktop icon for Word, you can access the program by clicking "Start," selecting "All Programs," opening the "Microsoft Office" folder and selecting "Microsoft Office Word." Word opens with a listing on the left of the files that were open.

  2. 2

    Click on the unsaved Word document that you want to recover in the left pane. The document will have a name like “Document 1” or “Document 2,” since it has not yet been saved with a name.

  3. 3

    Open the "File" menu and choose "Save" from the options in the menu. Choose a folder to save the file into, and type a name for the file into the "File Name" box. Click "Save" to save the file to your hard drive.

  1. 1

    Go to the "Start" menu of your computer. Type "Document" along with the number that was listed next to document when you had the file open, if you remember the number, such as "Document 2." Hit "Enter" and the computer searches for the Word document on the computer’s hard drive. If it finds the document, it is listed in the pane directly above the search box.

  2. 2

    Find the "AutoRecover" folder on your hard drive. To figure out where that folder is on the drive, click on the Office" orb in the top left corner of Word and select "Word Options" from the menu that comes up. Go to the "Save" category under "Word Options" and the path to the "AutoRecover" folder should be listed in the "AutoRecover file location" line.

  3. 3

    Click "Start," select "My Computer" or "Computer," depending on the version of your Windows operating system. Navigate through the path displayed in the "AutoRecover file location" line. Check each file that is stored in the folder to see if any of them are the file you accidentally deleted.

  4. 4

    Check for temp files on the computer. Though unlikely, it’s possible that Word created a temp file for the document that didn’t get deleted when you closed the file without saving it. To check for temp files, go to the search box under “Start,” type in "*.tmp" and press "Enter." The file will be listed in the temporary file results, if found.

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