How to recover an Excel file that’s not saved

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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recover unsaved excel files

Excel is one of the most essential MS Office applications that millions of users utilize for calculating and displaying numerical data. Two of the good things about Excel are its AutoSave and AutoRecover features.

They make it easy for users to retrieve spreadsheet files that weren’t saved. However, those features need to be enabled for users to restore an Excel file not saved.

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How can I retrieve an Excel file that’s not saved?

1. Make sure the Save AutoRecover information option is selected

  1. To check if AutoRecover is enabled, click the File tab in Excel
  2. Click Options to open the window shown directly belowExcel Options window recover an excel file not saved
  3. Click Save on the left of the window to open the tab in the snapshot below.The Save tab recover an excel file not saved
  4. Select the Save AutoRecover information window every x minutes option if it’s not already checked
  5. Select the Keep the last autosaved version checkbox
    • You can change how often AutoRecover saves things by entering an alternative value in the option’s text box
    • The AutoRecover file locations text box includes the folder path where you can find unsaved documents.
      • You can change that path by clicking Browse
  6. Click the OK button

Thereafter, a Document Recovery sidebar will open when you first launch Excel after it unexpectedly closed (crashed).

That shows you a list of files that it can recover. Note that the files it displays will have been saved at least once before. Nevertheless, it will enable you to recover content added to a document before the application closed.

2. Select the Recover Unsaved Workbooks option

  1. To restore a file never saved before, select the Recover Unsaved Workbooks option
  2. Select Excel’s File tab
  3. Click Open on the left of the File tab
    • In older Excel versions, you’ll need to select Recent
  4. Then click Recent to open a list of recent documentsRecent files recover an excel file not saved
  5. Click the Recover Unsaved Workbooks button
    • An Open window will then appear that includes a list of unsaved Excel documents
  6. Select an unsaved document there
  7. Click the Open button

So, that’s how you can restore an Excel file that’s not saved and lost document content.

You can also restore unsaved MS Word files much the same as that application has the same AutoSave and AutoRecover features.

What methods do you use to recover unsaved MS Office documents? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

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