When you’re working on that important brief or other legal document, the last thing you need is for your edits to get trashed by a computer crash or accidentally exiting the program without saving. While Microsoft Word has always had some form of AutoRecover for automatically saving documents, it’s more sophisticated in Office 2010. Protect your documents by setting up AutoRecover now.
Unless otherwise noted below, all instructions and screenshots are for Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows.
AutoRecover options to set (before it’s too late)
To make sure you can take advantage of these features when you need them, first do some quick set up in Word Options. To get there, click on the File tab, then click on Options near the bottom left. Once you’re in Options, click on Save on the left and you’ll see this:
First, be sure that the check box next to “Save AutoRecover information every ____ minutes” is ticked. By default, AutoRecover is set to save a temporary version of your document every 10 minutes. You may want to set this to a lower number, but setting it too low may drag down your computer’s performance. Every 5 minutes is probably okay for most computers.
Next, check the box next to “Keep the last autosaved version if I close without saving.” This will ensure that even if you close Microsoft Word without saving your document (assuming you’ve been working with it long enough for AutoRecover to kick in), there’ll be an AutoRecover version saved on your hard disk.
The next time you attempt to close Word without saving your work, Microsoft Word will assure you it’ll save a temporary version:
To illustrate this, I’ve created a file and deliberately not saved it when exiting Microsoft Word. When I go back to Microsoft Word, I click on the File tab and go down to the Versions section and click Manage Versions. Once there, I have the option to recover it:
When I click Recover Unsaved Documents, Microsoft Word takes me directly to the appropriate file folder and shows me a list of the temporary files:
To recover this and begin editing again, all I need to do is double-click on the file name.
Recovering and comparing more recent versions of a saved file
If the last version was not saved, whether due to a computer crash or other accident, you can review any AutoRecover versions. Open the file again (using Recent on the File tab is one quick way to do it) then go back to the File tab and click on the later version you want to look at:
You’ll see an information bar across the top of the document. If you decide that the later AutoRecover version is what you want to save, click Restore. If you want to compare the two versions to review the changes you’ve made before you make a decision, click Compare.
This ounce of prevention takes 30 seconds
You may not be the type to want to get under the hood of Microsoft Office and fiddle with the settings. But this one’s critical. Take 30 seconds to set AutoRecover up now. It’ll save you both time and headaches later.