How to Retrieve an Unsaved PPT Document

By Craig Witt

Developed by Microsoft, PowerPoint is one of the world's most widely used presentation applications. The program is included in the company's Office suite of productivity products and allows users to create slide-based presentations that can be delivered on a computer screen or through a projector. Because PowerPoint uses temporary files to keep track of unsaved content, you may be able to recover your presentation if you accidentally close the program without saving your work. If the temporary copy of your work is still available, the Windows search tool can help you find it.

Windows Vista or Windows 7

Step 1

Click the Windows "Start" button and select "Computer." If you do not see this option, double click the "Computer" icon on your desktop instead.

Step 2

Click within the "Search" box at the top right corner of the window, type "ppt*.tmp" (without quotation marks), and then press the Enter key. If search results appear, continue on to the next step. If they do not, click the "Advanced Search" button, check the box labeled "Include non-indexed, hidden, and system files (might be slow)," and then click "Search."

Step 3

Right click the icon of the .tmp file that has a name starting with "ppt" and select "Rename." Give the file a new name, change the extension to ".ppt" (e.g., "recovered.ppt"), and press the Enter key to confirm the change.

Step 4

Double click the icon of the file you just renamed to open it in PowerPoint.

Step 5

Click the "File" button or the "Office" button in the top menu bar and select "Save As." Give the file a name, select a save location outside of the temporary files folder and then click "Save" to complete the recovery process.

Windows XP

Step 1

Click the Windows "Start" button, select "Search," and then click "For Files or Folders." When the search dialog box appears, click the "All files and folders" link on the left side of the window.

Step 2

Type "ppt*.tmp" (without quotation marks) in the "All or part of the file name" field, and then press the Enter key.

Step 3

Right click the icon of the .tmp file that has a name starting with "ppt" and select "Rename." Give the file a new name, change the extension to ".ppt" (e.g., "recovered.ppt"), and press the Enter key to confirm the change.

Step 4

Double click the icon of the file you just renamed to open it in PowerPoint.

Step 5

Click the "File" button or the "Office" button in the top menu bar and select "Save As." Give the file a name, select a save location outside of the temporary files folder and then click "Save" to complete the recovery process.

Tips & Warnings

  • Recovery of unsaved work is not possible if the temporary copy of your presentation has been overwritten or deleted by Windows since you closed PowerPoint. You will not find any temporary PowerPoint files in your search results if this is the case.