How to Use AutoRecover to Automatically Save Your Word Documents and Recover Lost Changes

By Lori Kaufman on August 10th, 2015

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Word can automatically create a backup of your document every time you save it. However, you can also have Word automatically save your document for you at regular intervals using the AutoRecover feature and use this feature to recover any changes lost in your documents.

Turn on the AutoRecover feature

To turn on the AutoRecover feature, click the “File” tab.

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On the backstage screen, click “Options” in the list of items on the left.

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On the “Word Options” dialog box, click “Save” in the list of items on the left.

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Click the “Save AutoRecover Information every” check box so there is a check mark in the box. The spinner edit box before “minutes” activates. Enter the number of minutes after which you want Word to automatically save your document.

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To change the default location for AutoRecover files, click “Browse” to the right of the “AutoRecover file location” edit box.

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On the “Modify Location” dialog box, navigate to the location where you want AutoRecover files saved and click “OK”.

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To close the “Word Options” dialog box, click “OK”.

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Once Word has automatically saved your document, on the “Info” screen, under “Versions”, you’ll see a list of “autosave” versions of your document that have been automatically saved at the time interval you specified.

NOTE: The previous “autosave” files are still available even after you manually save your document within the same Word session. However, once you close the document and reopen it, any “autosave” files associated with the document are not available.

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Recover Changes Made to an Existing Document

To recover the latest changes you forgot to save in a document that has previously been saved, open the file in question and click the “File” tab. On the “Info” screen, the “Versions” section contains a list of files that were either closed without saving or automatically saved using the AutoRecover feature.

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The unsaved version of the file opens in Read-Only mode with a message in a yellow bar at the top of the window saying this is a temporary, recovered file. To fully recover this version of the file, click “Restore” on the yellow bar.

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A warning displays telling you that you are about to overwrite the last saved version of your file with the selected version. If you’re sure you want the recovered version of the file to replace the latest saved version, click “OK”.

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After restoring the selected version of the document, Word remains in Read-Only mode. To return to normal editing mode, select “Edit Document” from the “View” menu.

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Recover a New Document You Have Not Saved Yet

It’s one thing to be able to recover a few changes made to an existing document that you lost. What if you created a new document, added a lot of content, and Word crashed or you lost power before you remembered to save the document? There is a way to recover unsaved documents.

To recover an unsaved document, click the “File” tab from within another existing document or a blank document and then click “Open” in the list of items on the left side of the backstage screen.

NOTE: If you’ve opened Word without opening a document or creating a new document, press “Ctrl + O” (that’a a capital letter “O”, not a zero) from the initial screen with the “Recent” list of documents and the templates. We found that it doesn’t take you directly to the “Open” screen when you’re on the initial screen, but you can click “Open” from the “Info” screen to get there.

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At the bottom of the “Recent Documents” list on the right side of the “Open” screen, click “Recover Unsaved Documents”.

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NOTE: You can also click “Manage Versions” on the “Info” screen and select “Recover Unsaved Documents” from the drop-down menu.

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The “Open” dialog box opens to the “UnsavedFiles” folder, listing any unsaved documents that are available to recover. Select a file and click “Open”.

NOTE: These recovery files are named with a string of numbers, so it may be hard to figure out which one is the document you want to recover. Looking at the date and time on each file might help you determine which file you want.

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The selected file is opened in Read-Only mode and a message displays in a yellow bar at the top of the window saying this is a temporary, recovered file. To save the file, click “Save As” in the yellow bar.

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On the “Save As” dialog box, navigate to the location where you want to save the recovered document and enter a name for the document in the “File name” edit box. Click “Save”.

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Again, once the recovered document is saved, Word remains in Read-Only mode. To return to normal editing mode, select “Edit Document” from the “View” menu.

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If you manually save your documents regularly, you may not need to turn on the AutoRecover feature. However, if you tend to forget to save your work, the AutoRecover feature can be a life-saver.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 08/10/15
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