Microsoft Word, often called just Word, is one of the most popular word processing tools in the world today. It was first released on October 25, 1983 and since then has become an integral part of our lives.
Most of us are sure to have used it at some point in time, considering its user-friendly interface and intuitive navigation menus, but did you know it’s also one of the best when it comes to productivity and performance?
That said, Word comes with its own set of issues too, many of which revolve around recovering your documents when there’s a problem with your system.
In this article, let’s go through some step-by-step instructions on how to recover a Word document under different circumstances. Before that, we’ll also briefly look at the settings that can protect your documents.
Manage Word Settings for Easy Recovery
Unless you’re using Office 365 and its Dropbox integration, Word is a desktop application with offline access. This means that your content is not synced real-time to any cloud storage for documents, and if your system goes offline, so does your document. In some cases, this can even mean it is lost forever, which will necessitate using data recovery software to retrieve it..
The good news is Microsoft has some safeguards built in to help you recover these documents. By default, Word auto-saves a document every ten minutes. You can change this setting, if you want Word to save your documents in shorter intervals of time.
To change this auto-save time, follow these instructions for Word 2007.
- Click on the Windows button on left hand corner
- In the menu, look for a button called “word options” on the lower right hand side
- Navigate to “save” on the left hand pane
- Look for an option called “save autorecover information every”
- Increase or decrease the minutes to suit your preference
For Word 2016, follow these steps.
- Click the “file” tab
- Choose “options” > “save”
- Check “save autorecovery information every” box
- Change the “minutes” value to whatever you want
- Check the “keep the last saved autoversion if I close without saving” check box
In general, choose short intervals for autosave if you’re using an old system or one that is prone to failure. This way, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of losing your latest content.
Another important setting is “always create backup copy” and as the name suggests, Word will create a backup copy of every file. Follow these steps to enable this option.
- Go to “options” > “tools”
- Navigate to the “save” tab on your left hand pane
- Change the backup location to a folder you want
These settings should give you better control over your backup and recovery.
How to Recover a Word Document on PC
As we explained earlier, Microsoft’s AutoRecover feature makes it easy to recover unsaved files in the event of an unexpected shutdown. Here’s what you can do to recover them, provided you use the same computer and no one else has accessed Word in the meantime.
How to Recover a Document in Word 2013
- Open Word
- On the left-hand pane, you’ll get a prompt to recover an auto-saved document
- Go through the files and choose the ones you want to keep
- Click “save as” to save a copy of your file
How to Recover a Document in Word 2002/2003
- Go to “tools” > “options”
- Navigate to “file locations” tab
- Double-click “autorecover files”
- Copy or note the file path and click “close”
- Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the file location
- Look for files that end with “.asd” extension
- Open the files and save them to your location
How to Recover a Document in Word 2007 and 2010
- Click Office button on left hand top corner
- Choose word options
- Click “save” on the left side pane
- In the “autorecover file location”, note the path and click “cancel”
- Navigate to this location in your windows explorer
- Look for files with “.asd” extension, double-click on them and save to your location
If you’re not using the same computer, follow these steps.
- Go to File Explorer icon on your desktop
- Go to the drive where Word autosaves files
- Look for files with .asd extensions, as all auto-saved files will end with “.asd” extension
- Double-click on this file to open it
- Choose the “save as” option to save it to the location you want
Another option is to go to “file” > “recent” > “recover unsaved documents” and this should open the list of unsaved documents on the left hand pane. Choose the ones you want and save them.
Though these steps are simple, it can’t replace regular saving. In fact, we recommend you save content after you type in every few words or so because AutoRecover is not the same as AutoSave.
Also, if your file is unnamed and Word crashes, all your work is lost. You can’t recover an unnamed file through AutoRecover feature. In other words, it’s not possible to recover a word document that was never saved in the first place.
If you’re particular about saving content as you go along, try using Google Drive (check out our Google Drive review for more details on this great service) or any other of our best cloud storage picks that have some kind of word-processing tool.
How to Recover a Word Document on Mac
Here’s the set of instructions to recover a Word document on Mac,
- Open a new “finder” window
- Go to the search bar and type “AutoRecovery”
- Look through the results, find the document you want and double-click it
- Save it to the location of your choice
How to Recover a Lost Word Document
You can try to recover a lost document through two methods.
Method 1 – Search your System
Go to your “start” menu and type the name of your document in “start search” box. Go through the list of files and if you find the one you want, double-click on it. If you don’t find what you want, type just “*.doc” or “*.docx” to see through all the Word files. This option is particularly helpful when you’re unsure of your file name or if you think you’re filename could have a typo.
Method 2 – Go to the Backup Folder
Another option is to go to the file location where Word autosaves documents.
- Go to “word options” and choose the “save” option
- Make a note of the backup location
- Navigate to this location and look for a file with “.wbk” extension
- Open it in Word
In short, recovering a word document is easy, provided you’ve set the right backup and recovery options. Since Word doesn’t have an autosave feature, it’s important to tweak your settings to prevent any data loss.
You can also consider using Google Docs or Dropbox Paper as well as other tools that’ll save your content in real-time, so your data is never lost.
Please share any other tips and tricks you know to recover a word document in our comment section. Thank you for reading.