Can I Recover Deleted Google Docs?

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Recovery is often possible when you accidentally delete one or more Google Docs.
Image Credit: LaylaBird/E+/GettyImages

Recovery is often possible when you accidentally delete one or more Google Docs. Restoring the original document along with all the associated content is usually a matter of searching the trash. Always run a general search of Google Docs first, however, to confirm the document is not misfiled on the drive.

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Search for Documents

Searching for Google Docs documents is easy through the general search function. However, you need the name used for the document to run an effective search. Open Google Drive on your computer, which is where all your saved documents, spreadsheets and media files are saved in the Google cloud storage system.

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Go to the top of the window and locate the search bar. Enter the name of the document and press Enter to search the drive. The missing document may be saved in the wrong file or location on the drive, not deleted. This search process retrieves misplaced files — when the name is spelled correctly. After locating the lost document, move it to the appropriate file or storage space for easy retrieval in the future.

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Another easy search method is through the recent documents tab. Open Google Drive and look for the Recent option on the left navigation pane. This section shows every document and file accessed in recent history. If you viewed or edited the document in the past week or two, it may show on this panel. Do a visual search through the documents displayed to locate the file.

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Lastly, check the downloads folder if the file was saved from email or imported from an external source. It may have been stored in the downloads without moving to the Google Drive folders. Copy the document from the downloads and move it to the appropriate location. Shared documents are stored in a similar manner. Click the Shared with Me tab to locate files in this manner. They are also accessible through the email notification created when the file was initially shared.

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Google Docs Restore

To recover deleted Google drive files, open Google Drive and look to the left navigation panel. Locate the Trash option and click it to view all the files stored in the trash bin. Google Drive stores deleted files in this bin for a long time if minimal files are deleted from the drive. As the trash fills, the oldest files are ultimately moved to full deletion.

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Manually search through the trash to locate the file. When you locate it, right-click on the file and click Restore to return the document to the main drive. Once restored, access the document through the Recent files option.

If the file is no longer stored in the trash bin and is not misplaced in the drive, recovery may not be possible. Look through email for shared attachments of the document as a last resort for recovery. Otherwise, the file is likely lost forever.

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Recover Deleted Content

In some cases, the file exists, but the content in the document has been deleted accidentally. This is a common mistake that occurs during the editing process. Highlighting a chunk of text or media and accidentally pressing the backspace key removes your hard work from the document. Luckily, this content is easily recovered, and even the formatting returns perfectly.

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Navigate to the main toolbar in Google Docs and click Edit. Find Undo in the drop-down menu and select it. Selecting this option undoes the last step made. If the content delete was the last move made, it restores the content. You may have to press the Undo option several times to achieve the desired result.

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