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Updated by Tina Sieber on January 21, 2017.

The general consensus is that most computer mishaps occur because of carelessness and an itchy trigger happy finger. It’s a bitter lesson that’s taught to us while working on documents like MS Word, MS Excel, or any other like MS PowerPoint. The lesson says – save and save early.

Even with the right MS Office etiquette in place, documents disappear from the screen before you can save them. The notorious Windows system crash or your house power on the blink could cause you to lose your work before you can click on save. Lot of times we also tend to close an unsaved document after taking a printout. So, how can you recover that unsaved Microsoft Office document and restore your work (and also save yourself from a hair-tearing apoplectic attack)?

We turn to a little Microsoft Office 2010 feature that lets us recover document drafts in a second.

Bringing Back the Draft

Here’s my open MS Word document that will be taken through some deliberate steps to demonstrate the “life-saving” feature that’s present in MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint (MS Office 2010 only).

recover word document

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Recover Unsaved Documents…

After closing the Word file unwittingly, open up a new MS Word document again. Go to File > Info > Manage Versions. Click on the little dropdown and select Recover Unsaved Documents.

In Excel 2010 click on Recover Unsaved Workbooks or Recover Unsaved Presentations if you are in PowerPoint 2010.

recover word 2010

MS Word opens the location where a copy of the draft resides.

recover word 2010

Save Draft As…

Now, it’s just a matter of selecting the draft, opening it up as a fresh MS Word document and saving it properly using the Save As button on the business bar at the top of the document; something which we “forgot” to do the last time around. Copies of unsaved documents are kept for four days and then they are automatically deleted.

recover word 2010

While opening the unsaved document, you can also make use of the Open and Repair feature for troubleshooting documents that might have got corrupted or damaged.

recover word 2010 document

Manually Open Saved Drafts

You can browse to the following file locations to open the file manually, depending on your operating system:

Windows 7 and Vista: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\<Application_Name>

Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\<username> \Application Data\Microsoft\<App Name>

Saving of drafts takes place automatically in all applications within MS Office. The Auto Recover option kicks in if the document has been open for some period of time. You can easily change the Auto recover interval by going to File > Options > Save. The default is 10 minutes as indicated under – Save AutoRecover Information.

recover word document

I prefer setting it to a more frequent 3 – 5 minutes. Remember that AutoRecover may be a lifesaver, but it is not a substitute for the good habit of regularly saving your file while you are working on it.

AutoRecover Is Your Friend

AutoRecover is a feature to rely on. More often than not, it will help save you from all that can go wrong while working on a long document. Microsoft Office 2010 makes it slightly easier to get back an unsaved document than the earlier versions of Office. If you are still on MS Office 2007, check out how you can use AutoRecover How To Autosave Docs with AutoRecover in MS Word 2007 How To Autosave Docs with AutoRecover in MS Word 2007 Read More to come to your rescue. We have a substantial lineup of other Microsoft Word tips for you.

Were you aware of this document recovery trick? Which tips would you add?

Image Credit: Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock.com

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