How to Recover an Unsaved Excel File

You took hours to make the workbook Excel your boss asked you, and just before you could make the final save, the computer decided to shut down abnormally, leaving you impaled (and terrified!) in front of the screen! After a few seconds of displacement, you have decided to take matters into your own hands and go to Google in search of a solution that can contain the damage caused by the unexpected.

Well, know that you have found it! In fact, below I will explain to you in detail how to recover unsaved excel file, both on computers with Windows and on Macs. In particular, it will be my care to show you how to obtain this result using the Microsoft Office program, the LibreOffice Calc software and, finally, by directing you to other software expressly dedicated to data recovery.

So, without hesitating further, make yourself comfortable and read very carefully everything I have to explain on the subject: you will see, the result will satisfy you. That said, there is nothing left for me to do but wish you happy reading and wish you a huge good luck for everything!

How to Recover an Unsaved Excel File on Windows

If you have the need to recover an unsaved Excel file and you have a PC Windows, this is the chapter of the tutorial that is most suitable for you. In fact, below I will explain all the steps to take to recover an Excel workbook, a LibreOffice Writer worksheet and, finally, to attempt a recovery through some specific third-party software by operating from the Microsoft operating system. .

Microsoft Excel

If you are using the Microsoft Excel included in the subscription a Office 365 and you have synchronized your data with your Microsoft account, don't be afraid to lose your files: the program, in fact, is able to create automatic saves on OneDrive. For this reason, if Excel should close abnormally, you will simply have to reopen the document of your interest as usual and access the last provisional save available (you will see a special box when opening the program).

If, on the other hand, you are not using Office 365 or have not activated cloud data synchronization, the question is slightly different: it will be Excel itself that will offer you, at the first start following the unexpected shutdown, to restore the files that are not you managed to save manually, recovering them from an automatically created archive locally.

Basically, what you need to do is open the program and take a look at its left pane: locate the entry Show recovered files, identified by a folder icon, and click on it to access the recovery phase. Alternatively, you can directly open the spreadsheet you failed to save to find yourself directly on the file recovery screen.

At this point, all you have to do is move the mouse over the version of the workbook you want to recover (helping you, if necessary, with the date of the last save), click on the freccetta verse il basso located in its correspondence and choose whether display the document in the current window, Save as a copy of the file or To close the restored document, thus eliminating the autosave.

To limit the chances of data loss during recovery, you can decrease the time interval between Excel autosaves, which, by default, is 10 minutes: to do so, go to the tab Fillet and click on the item first options and then on that Rescue located on the left side of the screen that is proposed to you.

Finally, put a check mark next to the entry Save autosave information every, specify thetime lapse (in minutes) in the text field immediately adjacent and check the box as well Keep the latest version automatically restored if you close without saving. Infine, premium pulsating OK per confermare I modified it.

If this option is not present, it is very likely that Excel was unable to generate a provisional draft of the workbook: in this case, you can try to recover the autosave files using the manual procedure. To do this, first identify the save folder of the provisional Excel archives by clicking on the menu Fillet located at the top left, by going to the tab options and then in the tab Rescue, attached to the window that appears later.

Afterwards, copy the path to the folder specified in the box Autosave file path (With art. C:UsersnomeUtenteAppDataRoamingMicrosoftExcel) and close Excel. After this step, open a window of File Explorer (l'icona della gialla poster located in the Windows taskbar), click on address bar located at the top, delete its contents, paste the previously copied path and press the key Submit of the keyboard.

That's it - with a bit of luck, you should see autosave files, with a name similar to DocumentName_ [Auto Save] and extension.xlk/.tmp, or files of backup, Called Backup Of [DocumentName] with extension asd. Once you have identified the file of your interest, right click on its icon, choose the item Open with from the context menu and select the item related to Microsoft Excel.

If you are unable to find files with the extension .xlk, .asd or .tmp, you can do a thorough search using the Start menu Windows or a program like FileSeek: I've explained everything in the guide on finding files on your computer.

LibreOffice Calc

If you manage Excel files using LibreOffice, then I have good news for you: by default, Calc, the program responsible for managing spreadsheets included in the well-known open source office suite, automatically saves the documents processed every 10 minutes. Because of this, it is very likely that you will be able to recover an unsaved Excel worksheet using one of these autosaves.

In practice, all you have to do is open Calc again as you normally would and wait for the window that warns you of the presence of unsaved documents, left open before the software crashed: to retrieve them, simply click on the buttons Startend.

If there is no trace of the aforementioned window, Calc may have failed to generate an autosave of the open worksheet. If so, you can take a look at the program's backup folder, looking for a document that has it same name than the original one and extension .Capricorn.

To locate this folder, go to the menu Tools> Options… Calc (top), expand the section LibreOffice attached to the left pane of the window that opens, click on the button [+], then on the section Paths and make a note of the folder specified at the entry Safety copies (With art. C:UsersnomeUtenteAppDataRoamingLibreOffice4UserBackup).

To have LibreOffice automatically save files more often, go to the menu Tools> Options… of Calc, go to the section Load / Save (left) and finally indicates the time interval to be used in the text field corresponding to the item Save auto reset information every (which must be checked). Finally, press the button OK.

Finally, open a window of File Explorer, go to the previously recovered path (taking care to activate the display of hidden files) and locate a file that has the same name as the one you were working on with extension .Capricorn: when you have found it, right click on its icon and choose the items Open with> LibreOffice Calc from the menu that is proposed to you. Remember, in any case, to remove the check mark from the box Always use the program to open this type of file.

Data Recovery Software

Weren't the procedures I showed you about Excel and LibreOffice Calc for Windows helpful? Were you unable to recover the Excel file you were working on and are you thinking of throwing in the towel and starting all over again? Wait a moment. As a last resort, you can try to get the file again using a file dati recovery software, like those listed below.

  • Recuva– is one of the most powerful and efficient data recovery applications for Windows. It allows you to recover, with a very simple wizard, data from hard drives, SSDs, USB sticks and so on. I told you about it in detail in my thematic guide on the subject.
  • PhotoRec - another excellent free and open source data recovery software that allows you to regain access to files that have been deleted, damaged or overwritten by the operating system. I showed you how it works in my guide dedicated to recovering data from the hard disk.
  • MiniTool Power Data Recovery - another great software that, within a couple of clicks, lets you restore any type of deleted or lost file from internal and external drives. In its free version, it allows you to recover up to 1 GB of data. For more information on this, you can consult the appropriate section of my guide to data recovery from external hard disk (also valid for internal disks).

How to Recover Unsaved Excel File on Mac

As regards the recover unsaved Excel files on Mac, the speech is quite similar to what has already been seen for Windows: you can try to get access to the files again using the procedures provided by Microsoft Excel, by LibreOffice and, in extreme cases, with the help of some software specially designed for data recovery.

Microsoft Excel

An unexpected closure of Microsoft Excel resulted in the loss of the workbook you were about to finish? No problem: in all likelihood, the next time you reboot you'll have the ability to easily restore the file. I'll explain immediately how to do it.

If the shutdown occurred as a result of an unexpected program shutdown (without restarting the entire operating system), you should automatically see a warning window relating to the event just triggered: when this happens, all you have to do is place the check mark next to the item Get your work back and restart Microsoft Excel and click on the button OK, in order to attempt automatic recovery of the file.

If the aforementioned window does not appear (if, for example, the closing of the program was caused by a power outage or a scheduled restart of macOS), the steps to follow are slightly different: start Microsoft Excel as you usually would. , wait for the appearance of a small screen that notifies the previous unexpected closure of the program and click on the button apri, to restore the last saved file.

If you wish, to avoid accidental loss of data in the event of an unexpected closure of Excel, you can set a saving interval shorter than the default one (equal to 10 minutes), so that the program automatically creates a backup copy of the file, ready to be restored if necessary.

To do this, go to the menu Excel> Preferences ... (top left), click on the button Save, put the check mark, if not already there, next to the item Automatically save every and define the time interval you prefer in the appropriate text field (eg. 2 minutes).


The procedure for automatically recovering a lost Excel document following an unexpected closure of LibreOffice Calc, is practically identical to that already seen for Windows: what you have to do, in practice, is to start again LibreOffice, select the document to be recovered in the screen that is proposed to you and click on the buttons Startend, in order to complete the restoration.

If the previous steps are not effective, I advise you, also in this case, to search for automatic backup (of the type NomeDocumentoOriginale.bak) inside the LibreOffice save folder: to find out where it is, start LibreOffice Calc, go to the menu LibreOffice> Preferences ... (top left) and, after clicking on the item Paths, note the folder corresponding to the entry Safety copies (With art. /Users/NomeUtente/Application Support/LibreOffice/4/user/backup).

After that, open a window of the Finder (The smiling face attached to the Dock bar), access the menu Go> Go to folder ... (top), paste the previously copied path into it and press the key Submit keyboard. Finally, activate the display of hidden files by pressing the keys simultaneously cmd+shift+. and look for a file named DocumentNome.bak, then open it with LibreOffice by right clicking on its icon and choosing the item Open with give the purpose menu.

Note: As needed, you can make LibreOffice autosaves run more often. To achieve this, go to the menu LibreOffice> Preferences sulla voce Load / Save and specify the time interval you want in the text field attached to the entry Save auto reset information every (also making sure that the relevant box is checked). Finally, click on the button OK located at the bottom of the window.

Data Recovery Software

Despite having strictly followed the directions I gave you in the previous sections of this tutorial, were you unable to successfully recover the Excel file you were working on? If so, you can try to get access to it again by taking advantage of a data recovery program, useful in case the backup of the document you are interested in has been accidentally overwritten by the operating system.

  • time Machine - this utility, included "standard" in macOS, allows (if properly configured) to restore previous versions of files and folders very easily. I told you about it in my tutorial dedicated to its operation.
  • Disk Drill - excellent and powerful data recovery program. Available for a fee (costs € 79), it can be tried for free to view previews of recoverable files. For more information, I invite you to consult the dedicated section of my guide to recovering deleted files on Mac.

How to Recover an Unsaved Excel File on Smartphones and Tablets

Do you usually work through the Excel apps available for Android and iOS and would like to know how to recover a file you were working on and which, for a distraction, you had not saved manually?

In that case, you have little to fear: in a moment you will understand why. You should know that documents created through these apps are, by default, stored on space OneDrive matched to the Microsoft account used to log in. This also applies to documents opened via apps: once they are opened, a copy is created in the cloud.

Fortunately, the Excel app (as well as all Office apps for smartphones and tablets) perform the automatic saving of documents in the cloud, when the device is connected to the Internet; otherwise, a copy of the document is saved in a specific memory area and synchronized in the cloud as soon as the device connects to the network.

For this reason, recovering an unsaved Excel file on smartphones and tablets is very simple: after opening the app, tap the tab Recent (bottom left) and tap the name of the file you want to open. It will contain all the changes you have made over time, including any that you didn't save manually.

Note: you can also access the Excel files saved in the cloud from your PC, by connecting to the OneDrive website, by synchronizing with Microsoft Excel Desktop (from the menu File > Account) or using the dedicated OneDrive program for Windows and Mac.