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Rescue: How to Recover Unsaved Documents in Office 2010

Having taken great pains to work out a long document, but you accidently dropped the “Don’t Save” button when leaving, or the document suddenly disappeared from the screen because of system crash or power cut before you can save it. Does it drive you bananas? Don’ worry. There is a little feature in Office 2010 coming to your rescue. Here I will take MS Word as an example to show you how to recover unsaved documents in Office 2010.

Part 1: How to recover unsaved documents because of manual misoperation

Situation One: New document recovery

If you create a new document that has never been saved before by Start -> All Programs -> Microsoft Office -> Microsoft Word 2010, as shown on the screenshot below, but you finally choose “Don’t Save” when exit.

create a new document

You can retrieve the unsaved version through the following two ways:

  1. Way 1: From Manage Versions
  2. 1. Open a new MS Word document, click File > Info > Manage Versions, and then select Recover Unsaved Documents.

    Manage Versions

    2. It will pop up an Open window that shows you the unsaved files, so you can select one of the files to recover.

    select unsaved file

    3. It's just a matter of opening the draft as a new Word document and then you can save it by clicking the "Save As" button.

    recover unsaved file by clicking Save As button

  3. Way 2: From Recover Unsaved Documents
  4. 1. Open a new Word document, go to File > Recent > Recover Unsaved Documents.

    Recover unsaved Documents

    2. The following steps are the same as Way 1.

Situation Two: Saved document recovery

If you modify a previously saved document (including creating a new document by right click), but you don’t save the results when you exit.

previously saved Word document

You can retrieve the unsaved version through the following two ways:

  1. Way 1: MS Word recovery
  2. 1. Open the previously saved document again, go to File > Info > Versions. In the Versions panel, you can see all versions you have done. Select the first one version written "when I closed without saving".

    select one version to recover

    2. The modified version will be opened. Now you can select “Compare” button to compare with the historical version or “Restore” button to restore your modified document.

    Compare or Restore

  3. Way 2: Manual recovery
  4. You can also manually recover the unsaved document by the location below:

    unsaved files loaction

    You just do a simple action - double click the ASD file, and then you can get back your unsaved file. Are you in the seventh heaven of delight now?

Part 2: How to recover missing documents because of improper shutdown

The system breakdown or the power failure suddenly happens when you are working on a long document, keep calm please. Open the file again, and the Document Recovery panel will automatically appear on the left column of the window, which displays the various historical versions of the file so that you can choose any ones to recover. Pretty easy, isn't it?

Document Recovery

Part 3: AutoRecover settings

To use the above methods to recover the unsaved files, firstly make sure that the AutoRecover feature is enabled (by default):

1. Open Microsoft Word 2010, go to File > Options.

2. On the left column of the Word Options window, click Save option.

3. In the Save documents section on the right column of the window, make sure that the two checkboxes marked in red are checked. Of course, you can set the time interval to your own needs.

AutoRecover settings


1. If you keep the default AutoRecover time for 10 minutes, it means that MS Word will not save any change made in the last 9'59 before you exit the document. So you can set a shorter time if you rely on MS Word too much. Maybe 5 minutes would be better. For more detailed reasons, please see How does AutoRecover work.

2. Only when the confirmation dialog contains the words “if you click ‘Don’t Save’, a recent copy of this file will be temporarily available”, can Office 2010 automatically save at least a version for you.

Dont't Save

Although these above methods can help us recover unsaved documents, it is good for us to form the habit of saving files regularly.

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