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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 exit without thinking — not to mention system errors or Microsoft Word itself crashing. Conveniently, Microsoft provides a useful feature for the program that can recover everything you might have lost.

Here’s how to recover unsaved Word documents.

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5 minutes

What You Need

  • PC or laptop with Microsoft Word

Using Word’s Recover Unsaved Documents tool

Step 1: Within Microsoft Word, click the File tab. Click the Info tab if it’s not already selected by default.

Step 2: Select the Manage Documents or Manage Versions button.

Step 3: Click the Recover Unsaved Documents field.

The Recover Unsaved Documents button on Microsoft Word.

Step 4: Word will now open the UnsavedFiles folder located within the root Office program folder. If your unsaved document is listed, double-click it.

The UnsavedFiles folder location for Microsoft Word.

Step 5: After you’ve opened it, Word will show a message at the top of your document stating you’re accessing a recovered file, along with a button to save the file itself.

The Document Recovery section for Microsoft Word where you can recover documents from.

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.

Manually searching for AutoRecover files

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

Step 1: Click your Windows start button and search for .asd. Make a note of the location of these files.

Alternatively, on Word, head to File and then select Options. Situated within the sidebar is the Save tab. Click that and then manually copy and paste the AutoRecover File Location field into a File Explorer window.

The AutoRecover File Location field on Microsoft Word.

Step 2: If your system finds any Word documents with the .asd extension, go to Word and click File at the top. Select the Open and Browse tabs.

Step 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.

The All Files drop-down menu in Windows 10 via Microsoft Word.

Step 4: Select the .asd file and click Open.

Searching for 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.

Step 1: In File Explorer, search for .tmp. Alternatively, most .tmp files are located within your Documents folder. Navigate to: C:\Users\enteryourusernamehere\Documents and search for .tmp within this location.

A .tmp Microsoft Word file located within Documents in Windows 10.

Step 2: In Microsoft Word, click File and then Open. Choose Folders. Go to the folder where you found the .tmp files within. 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 click Open.

Searching for backup files

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

Step 1: The Backup Copy option has to have been enabled. Go to File  > Options  > Advanced, and navigate to the Save pane. Click the Always Create Backup Copy button.

The Always Create Backup Copy button in Microsoft Word.

Step 2: In File Explorer, search for .wbk. If your system does contain any .wbk files, it will be named as Backup Of, which is immediately accompanied by the name you had assigned to your missing file. Simply double-click the file to open it in Word.

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.

Step 1: At the top of Microsoft Word, click File, select the Options tab, and then choose the Save field. Here, you can customize aspects such as how often your documents are saved. Modify the options provided to your liking and then click the OK button at the bottom.

The Save settings window in Microsoft Word.

Step 2: Enable the Backup Copy option as we mentioned earlier. Head to File  > Options  > Advanced, and navigate to the Save tab. Click the Always Create Backup Copy button.

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