Is that missing Word document gone for good or is there a way to recover it? Let’s find out.
Uh, oh. That Word document you spent the past few hours writing has mysteriously vanished. Do you have to start it from scratch? Not necessarily. Your Word documents can sometimes go kerflooey, either disappearing completely or losing the latest changes. Those scenarios can occur if a document crashes or freezes or just doesn’t save properly. That recently happened to me even though I had been saving a now-lost document regularly.
So how can you find the document? You have a few options. You can scour the Recycle Bin. Depending on your settings in Word, you may be able to dig up a backup or an AutoRecovered version of your document. If those searches come up empty, you can look for temp files and files with the tilde (~) character. Let’s check out the different ways to recover a lost Word document.
As always, I’m using Word 2016 via my Office 365 subscription, but the steps I cover here work with the prior few versions of Word as well. Let’s start by assuming that you’d been working on a document and now can no longer find it. Or maybe, as in my case, you’ve opened your document only to discover that none of your recent changes appear. You’ve been saving it regularly or perhaps you neglected to save it at all.
First, let’s cover the basics if you haven’t already done so. Open File Explorer and look in the default document location and other locations throughout your hard drive for the file. If you use a file backup service, such as OneDrive, search your online storage as well as any synced computers for the file. Don’t forget to look in the OneDrive Recycle bin. If you run Windows 10 or 8.1 and have enabled File History, check the location of your file backups for the missing document. Still coming up empty? Okay, let’s move on.