How to Recover an Unsaved Microsoft Word 2016 Document in Seconds

Joe Keeley 25-01-2018

Have you ever accidentally quit your Word 2016 document without saving? Accidents happen. But with Word, not all is lost. We’re going to show you how to get your work back quickly.


We’ll also show you how to make the most of an Office feature called AutoRecover How to Recover Any Unsaved or Overwritten Microsoft Excel Files You don't have to start over when you accidentally lose an Excel file. If your computer crashed or you closed the document without saving, chances are you can recover your work. Read More . Banging your head in frustration will be a thing of the past!

How to Recover Unsaved Documents

Here’s the scenario. You’re toiling away on your Word document. You hit the close button. A window pops up, asking if you want to save your changes. By mistake, you click Don’t Save. Disaster! Or is it?

word save document pop-up

First, open Word. Navigate to File > Open. Here you will see a list of all your recent documents. At the bottom, click Recover Unsaved Documents. This will open a folder that contains all of your unsaved documents from the last 4 days.

unsavedfiles folder to recover unsaved word document


Simply double-click your file to open it. Below the ribbon How to Optimize the Office 2016 Ribbon or Menu Interface Do you often search for menu items in Microsoft Office? It's time to re-arrange and customize the Ribbon menu for your personal needs. You'll be surprised how flexible and easy it is! Read More , you’ll see a message that This is a recovered file that is temporarily stored on your computer. Click Save As and choose somewhere on your system to permanently store the file. Once chosen, click Save.

microsoft word recover unsaved document

If you can’t get to this step and are encountering problems opening the file, it might be that it’s become corrupted. Click your file from the list and click the dropdown arrow next to Open. Here you can select Open and Repair, which will try to automatically fix any problems.

microsoft word 2016 open and repair


Alternatively, if you want to navigate to the unsaved documents folder manually, press Windows key + R to open Run. Input the following and press OK:


How to Use AutoRecover

AutoRecover is an Office feature AutoSave in Office 2016 Lets You Revert to Previous Versions of Documents This new feature came in with the July 2017 update for Office 365 subscribers. You can spot it as a new switch button at the top-left corner in Excel 2016 and PowerPoint 2016. Read More that is helpful for when Word is disrupted, like if your system crashes or you have a power outage Power Outages and Your Smart Home (It's Not as Bad as You Think) Worried that all of your smart home upgrades will stop working the moment the power goes out? Here's how a power outage will affect four key pieces of smart home technology. Read More . It’s not there to replace saving via the usual method.

To use AutoRecover, launch Word and you should see the Document Recovery panel. This will list all of the available files with their title and time stamp.

microsoft word 2016 document autorecovery


You can click each file in turn to see what it contains. If there’s any you want to save, click the dropdown arrow next to the file and click Save As… Here you can choose somewhere permanent to save your file.

Word may only offer the recovered documents on this initial launch, so don’t delay if there’s something you want to save.

How to Customize AutoRecover

AutoRecover should be enabled by default, but let’s double check that and see how to tweak it while we’re at it. Open Word and go to File > Options > Save. If it isn’t already, tick Save AutoRecover information every X minutes.

You may want to adjust the minute interval for how regularly your files are automatically saved. Something like 10 is a good idea.


customize microsoft word 2016 autorecover

Also, tick Keep the last AutoRecovered version if I close without saving.

Beneath this, you’ll find the AutoRecover file location. If you want to change it, click Browse…, go to a folder path and click OK. However, the default folder path will probably be fine.

Files Resurrected

Hopefully, this guide has helped you recover the Word 2016 file that you thought was gone forever.

Remember, nothing beats constantly saving your work. Check out our guide on how to automatically save your work in Windows How to Auto-Save Your Work in Windows How many times did you lose work because the file you were working on didn't auto-save? Never let that happen to you again. Read More for some tips on that. In addition to Office’s AutoRecover, we also introduce you to auto-save features in your browser, Outlook, Notepad, and third-party tools that will help you keep your work backed up at all times.

If you want even more help with bringing back Word files, check out our information on how to recover corrupted Office files Access & Recover Corrupt Office Files with These Tips Your important document is corrupted and you don't have a backup? Not all is lost! You can try to repair the file or find a backup you didn't know you had. Read More . You’ll be resurrecting your Word files with ease.

We’ve previously shown you how to recover unsaved Excel files How to Recover Any Unsaved or Overwritten Microsoft Excel Files You don't have to start over when you accidentally lose an Excel file. If your computer crashed or you closed the document without saving, chances are you can recover your work. Read More . This article included a method for recovering overwritten files that you might want to adopt for all your Office files: make it a habit to store your documents in your OneDrive folder. Now if you ever overwrite or delete a file, you can use OneDrive’s version history to recover it.

If you’re a Mac user, refer to this guide on how to restore files How to Recover Previous Versions of Pages, Word, and Other Mac Documents Lost your important document files? Here's how to recover previous version of Word, Pages, and Google Docs documents on your Mac. Read More .

Has this advice helped you get a file back you thought you’d lost? Do you have your own tips to share for recovering a Word 2016 file?

Related topics: Data Backup, Data Recovery, Microsoft Office 2016, Microsoft Word.

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  1. carlos
    April 27, 2018 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks! but is there a way to recover unsaved files from longer that the last 4 days?
    Please help!

  2. trish
    January 29, 2018 at 4:35 am

    Thank you SOOOO much! Your piece on how to "Custom Auto Recover" just found a very long document I had been working on and thought I had lost. I was almost in tears. Thank you for the help!