How to recover a Microsoft Office file you forgot to save

You work diligently on an Excel spreadsheet, making sure that all the numbers are correct and that everything looks right. Large. You are a machine: Nothing can stop you from succeeding in this task and impressing your boss. However, except for a power outage that shuts down your PC before you’ve had a chance to save it. Now you either have to start from scratch or quit your job and never look back.

Not so fast: Although not saving your work is a little dangerous, losing such a document is not a death sentence. If for some reason you accidentally closed an Office document without saving it, you don’t have to worry about starting from scratch. There is an easy way to recover the file with a recovery tool built into the Office program you are using.

When you work on a document in Word, Excel, or another Office program, the file is not only saved when you press the “Save” button. The app in question saves data from this file to its roaming folder in your user account’s AppData folder. This folder, usually invisible to most users, stores data from various Windows applications for your user account.

In most cases, an unsaved and recently closed Office document can be found here. There are two main methods of finding it. The first is the simplest and most direct as it takes you directly to the roaming folder containing the missing document. To get started, open the app you originally closed, click the ‘Files’ tab at the top left, then select ‘Info’. Then click on “Manage Documents”, then on “Recover Unsaved Documents”. Here you should see the file you closed without saving it: Select it, then click “Save As” to make sure you don’t lose it again.

If you want to get a little more “technical”, there is a slightly more advanced method you can use to achieve the same result. Press Windows+R to open the “Run” window. Then type %appdata% and run it to open the roaming folder. From there, follow the file path to your application folder (eg open the Microsoft folder, then the Word folder). This is the folder that the first method takes you directly to, so you should see the missing file. Open it again and save it.


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