Need to recover an “unsaved” Excel file from your hard drive? Hoping it was saved by your “Autosave” feature? If you haven’t done anything else to the file yet, it should still be there waiting for you.

I followed the steps here to retrieve my file.

The below post just offers additional tips to ensure you know how to recover unsaved Excel files in the future, too.

My Scenario: The Unsaved Excel File

I downloaded an Excel spreadsheet from my bank, saving it to my computer only once, during the initial download.

After working on it for hours and failing to manually save it again, I accidentally clicked “Don’t Save” when closing the file to log off for the night.

I panicked and immediately reopened the file to see if the little “recover” message would be there at the top like it is when your computer crashes and you’re working on an Office document.

But nothing!

All I had was the original, unmodified file staring me in the face.

I didn’t try to make any changes at all to my file at that point. I just closed it right away.

The next time I logged onto the computer, I ventured to Google to see if I could find a fix for my Friday flub. Thankfully, I was able to!

Note: In my case, I had an original version of the file that I’d saved to my hard drive.

Important File Recovery Prerequisites

Because I type 100+ WPM and can add a LOT of data to a file quickly, I have my Excel AutoRecover set to save every 1 minute.


Setting a short autorecover time ensures the least data loss with any potential screw-up such as this.

Note: If you didn’t already have the two above boxes checked in your MS Excel installation, the steps in the next article won’t work.

Saved Your File at Least Once? Here’s How to Retrieve the Latest Changes

1. Open the original version of the file. It won’t yet show your latest changes. Don’t worry.

2. While viewing that open file, go to the “File” tab in Excel. (I use Microsoft Excel 2010. Your interface may look different and instructions may differ slightly from the below.)

3. Look under the last heading, “Versions,” and click “Manage Versions.”

4. You should see a message that says, “Recent version from 6:11PM (or whenever) when I didn’t save my file.” If so, click on it and see if that’s the version you need. If not, continue to…

5. Click “Recover Unsaved Workbooks.”

Important: If you don’t FIRST open your file, you won’t be able to manage any versions of it (because you haven’t opened a file to manage versions of).

If, however, you have opened your file and still don’t see any unsaved versions… maybe your Excel isn’t set to save your files in a short enough interval. ;(

In that case, I have one recommendation for how to find unsaved Excel files – try this AutoRecover tutorial by ExcelEasy.

Again, they helped me retrieve the latest version of my unsaved Excel file!