Best ways to recover unsaved Word documents

Who I am
Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
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support.microsoft.com

Author and references

When Word accidentally quits or the program crashes, the unsaved Word document may disappear. If this happens, you may have to work on the document from scratch, which is quite inconvenient.

However, before starting a new document, you can try to recover the Word document.

Recover unsaved Word documents

Here is how you can recover those unsaved Word documents from your computer.

SEARCH FOR THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT IN THE START MENU

This is the first action you should take when you lose your Word document. The steps are quite simple:



  • in the Windows search bar, type the name of the document and press Enter.
  • if the results show the file in the document list, double-click it and it will open in Word.

SEARCH FOR THE .WBK OR .ASD EXTENSION

A file with the .WBK extension is a Word backup, while an .ASD extension represents an autosaved file. You can search if your Word file has a backup or autosaved copy using the steps below:

In the Windows search bar, type. wbk or .asd and tap the Enter key.

Check the search results to see if there are any files represented like this:

  • Backup copy: Backup of + Missing file name.
  • Autosaved file: .asd extension.

Double-click the file name to open it.

It is important to note that for a Word file to have a .wbk extension, the backup copy feature must be enabled in Word. Here's how to check if the feature is enabled:

  • Start Word.
  • Click File.
  • Select Options.
  • Click on Advanced.
  • Scroll down to the Save menu and make sure to tick the box with the instruction Always create a backup.
  • Select OK to save the changes.

USING THE TASK MANAGER

You can use the Task Manager on Windows to recover an unsaved file. However, this requires ending any Word-related process and restarting Word. Here's how it works:



  • Launch Task Manager
  • Click the Processes tab.
  • In the apps section, check out Microsoft Word. If the app appears, right-click and select End Task.
  • In the Background Processes section, check for Word related processes. If a process appears, right-click and select End Task.
  • Close the Task Manager.
  • Start Word again to see if the missing file appears in the Document Recovery pane. This pane is located to the left of the Word window.
  • If there are files in the recovery pane, double-click them to open them.

SEARCH TEMPORARY FILES

Another way to locate unsaved or corrupt Word documents is to search for temporary files. Such files have the extension .tmp. Here's how to locate the temporary files on our desktop:

  • In the Windows search bar, type .tmp or ~ then tap the Enter button.
  • Click the Documents tab.
  • Scroll through the list of search results. Do this to find the file names that correspond to the recent dates and times you worked on the document.
  • If you identify the file, start Word and click the File tab.
  • Click Open and select the Folders tab.
  • Go to the location of the .tmp file you found earlier and select it to open the file.

USE THE MANAGE DOCUMENTS ON MICROSOFT WORD FUNCTION

Word has a feature called Manage Document which can be used to recover unsaved files. Here's how it works:


  • Start Word.
  • Select the File tab on the ribbon.
  • Select Information.
  • Select Manage Documents.
  • Select Recover unsaved documents.

SEARCH IN THE BASKET

If a file has been accidentally deleted, it can be recovered if the Windows or Mac Recycle Bin has not been emptied. Here's how to do it:


  • Launch the Recycle Bin.
  • Look for the file name in the document list.
  • If you locate the file, right-click and select Restore.
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