How to Recover a Temp File in Word

By Julia Michelle

Microsoft Word has a built-in autosave function. As the name suggests, it automatically saves Word documents while you are working. The autosave function is not a replacement for actually saving the file but it may help you retrieve your information if the computer crashes before you can save the document. In many cases, the document will automatically open when you re-launch Word and you can save it. However, in some cases Word may save it as a temp file somewhere on the hard drive and you will need to open and save it manually.

Step 1

Click the “Start” button. In Windows XP, click “Search,” “For Files or Folders” and type “*.tmp” in the search field. In Vista, type “.tmp” in the search field on the main “Start” menu and click “Other” in the “Show Only” toolbar. In Windows 7, type “.tmp” in the search field on the main “Start” menu and click “See More Results.”

Step 2

Search the list of results for the Word temp file. The temporary file may have the same name or similar name as the original file, or the name may be an alpha-numeric series with the .tmp extension. If the name is not the same as the original file, search for a file with a date and time similar to the original document.

Step 3

Write down the name of the document, or make note of the file location. Close out of the search results.

Step 4

Launch Microsoft Word. In 2007 click on the “Office Button” and click “Open.” In earlier versions of Word, click on “File” and “Open.”

Step 5

Select “All Files” in the “Files of Type” drop down. Navigate to the location of the temp file.

Step 6

Select the temp file and click on the down arrow next to the “Open” button. Select “Open and Repair” then review and save your document.

Tips & Warnings

  • Save and name your document, at least once, while you are working. Doing so will improve the chances of Word automatically recovering the file.
  • It is possible that you may not find the temp file. Sometimes Microsoft Word autosave does not save the most recent changes or the computer crashes before Word can create a temp file.
  • The autosave function is not foolproof. Save early and often.