How to Restore a Word Document Accidentally Closed Without Saving Changes

By Kimberly Turtenwald

If your power goes out, or you accidentally forget to save your work before you exit Microsoft Word, chances are you feel a sense of panic, especially if the document is important. You may think that the file is gone, and you have to start over, hoping you can come up with something just as good as your first draft. However, you may still be able to find the work that you lost by searching specific areas of your computer.

Step 1

Open Microsoft Word to determine if the program auto-recovered your document. If your software is set to auto-save your document every couple of minutes, when the program is restarted, any document that was not saved prior to closing, may appear in the auto-recover window on the left side of the screen. Click on your document, and the last-saved file will open. However, anything you typed after the last auto-save is gone, but at least you haven't lost the entire document.

Step 2

Search the auto-recover files manually if the auto-recover pane did not appear when you opened MS Word. Click the Start menu at the bottom of your computer screen, and click "Search." Some operating systems have the search option as a part of the Start menu. Search for "*.asd" to search for any recovered files. If you find the file, open Word, and click "Open" in the menu. Search through all files, and locate the file that ended in .asd. Click "Open" to view your file. If you are using Word 2002 or 2003, you need to restart your computer after clicking "Open." Re-open Word after your computer re-boots to view the recovered file.

Step 3

Check your backup files. If you have the "Always create backup copy" option selected in Word, you may be able to find a backup copy of your document. Find the location where you last saved the document. Check for the extension .wbk. If there aren't any, search your whole computer for files with that extension. Open your file by clicking "Open" in Word, and search all files for the .wbk extension. Once you locate the file, click "Open."

Step 4

Look in the temporary files on your computer. Complete a search for files that end in the extension .tmp by typing "*.tmp" into the search box. Narrow the search down to specific dates of when you were working on the document. If the file does not show up, try searching for the "~*.*" convention. Some temporary files are in this format instead. If your document is now in your temporary files, you will need to recover the damaged document. Search for it within Word. Click "Open and Repair" when you find it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Set MS Word to automatically save your document every couple of minutes. Also, set Word to always make a backup just in case something happens while you are working on a document, or you forget to save.