How To Recover An Unsaved Word Document [Ultimate Guide]

Lost your progress in a Word file due to a sudden crash? Don't panic. Here's a simple guide on how to recover an unsaved Word document with ease.

Working on a file for hours only to lose all the progress due to a software crash or a power outage is a frustrating experience, yet unfortunately, happens more often than we’d like.

Thankfully, however, despite how scary and disheartening it may appear, the positive update is that you can typically retrieve the file(s) with the correct techniques.

Willing to learn how to recover a word document quickly and efficiently? That’s exactly what we’re here to help you with.

Let’s get started!

Table of ContentsShow

1. Access The AutoRecover Folder

AutoRecover Folder

Occasionally, we focus so much on our job that we fail to use the Ctrl + S keystroke to store the most up-to-date modifications. This can happen to experienced Microsoft Word users who use it every day.

Luckily, the Microsoft Word developers designed an auto-save feature that’s extremely useful in situations when we’re about to lose all of our work or the latest progress due to an outage, crash, or an unapplied save.

Here’s how the built-in autosave Word feature helps in recovering word documents and how to modify it even further according to your needs.

Note: The Microsoft Word version used in the examples below is 2016. 

  1. Right-click on an empty area on your Desktop and create a new Word file. Open the file.
  2. In the top-left corner of the Word app, click File, then Options.
    Windows Word File
    Windows Word Options
  3. Click on the Save category from the left-bar menu to open the settings panel specifically dedicated to the app’s save functions.
  4. Modify the minutes of the “Save AutoRecover” feature to match your needs by making it either more or less frequent. If you are looking to recover a file that you’ve recently lost, click on the Browse button next to the AutoRecover file location feature to open the folder where Word automatically saves the latest version of your files.
    Windows Word Save AutoRecover

This folder can also be accessed manually, but for most users, this is the preferred approach, as AppData is a hidden folder that some don’t have access to or have difficulty finding.

If you are experiencing frequent Word crashes or you know the risk of a power outage is higher at the moment, set the auto-save to be more frequent so you can ensure you don’t lose a lot of progress if something happens.

We also recommend making a habit of manually saving your progress all the time using the Ctrl + S keyboard shortcut, as this is the most reliable method and will serve you well in the long run.

2. Access The Recent Unsaved File Folder


If you want to recover an unsaved word document, Microsoft Word has a feature for that too. Although it may not always work depending on how old the unsaved file is, it’s well worth trying it as it doesn’t take much of your time at all.

Follow the steps below to restore an unsaved word document:

  1. Create an empty Microsoft Word file on your Desktop and then open it.
  2. Click on File in the top-left corner of the app, as shown in the image below.
    Windows Word File
  3. Expand the Manage Document menu by clicking on the small arrow as shown in the image below, and then click on the Recover Unsaved Documents option.
    Windows Word Recover Unsaved Documents

This will open the Microsoft Office Unsaved Files folder where you can recover one or multiple documents, and hopefully, save the progress that you recently lost.

Simply copy the files from that folder and paste them on your Desktop, then open any of them regularly and continue editing. Remember to save frequently this time, though.

3. Recover Word Files Through OneDrive


If you are logged in to your Microsoft account while using Word on your computer, remember that your documents are being uploaded to OneDrive.

In case of ever losing a document or being unable to find its latest autosave version, it’s always wise to check your OneDrive, as chances are you‘ll be able to find them there.

Follow the steps below to learn how to locate unsaved word documents in OneDrive:

  1. Create an empty Microsoft Word file on your Desktop and then open it.
  2. Click File in the top-left corner and then Open.
  3. Choose OneDrive from the list of options.

If you find any of the files you’re looking for, feel free to download them from OneDrive locally on your computer. Then, you can continue working and editing the files.

4. Recover Deleted Word Files Through Recycle Bin

Recycle Bin

If you’ve accidentally deleted a word file from your computer, worry not, as it’s likely still in your Recycle Bin, and there are effective ways to recover it.

Here’s what you can do if the situation described above is similar to yours:

  1. Press Windows + S simultaneously on your keyboard to open the Windows Search Box.
  2. Type in Recycle Bin and press Enter on your keyboard to initiate the search.
  3. If there are many files in your Recycle Bin, use the search bar located in the top-right corner of the window to look for your file.
  4. When you find your file, simply right-click it and choose Restore.

Now you can continue editing your Word file that you’ve deleted by mistake, and hopefully, your work progress is not lost.

5. Use Data Recovery Software

File Recovery

If you somehow lost your Word documents permanently (meaning they were deleted from Recycle Bin as well), you can use Data Recovery software to try and get them back.

We advise using the most competent data recovery tools available on the market, such as the ones listed in the DataRecoveryPro subreddit’s recommendation box to ensure maximum success chance.

Examples include DMDE, GetBack, Raise Data Recovery, R-Studio, and more.

To ensure you won’t need to use such tools in the future, we always recommend creating backup files of your most important Word documents, and relying both on the autosave feature and the manual Ctrl + S save function shortcut.


With that said, you now hopefully know more about unsaved word document recovery and how to prevent such incidents from happening again in the near future.

If you require to rapidly learn how to retrieve an unsaved word document, the strategies listed in the guide above should assist in restoring your files and safeguarding your valuable work progress effortlessly.

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Bojan Veselinovikj

Bojan is a video-game developer and a tech enthusiast. Combining these two passions allow him to keep you informed on everything that's new in this fast-paced digital world.