How to recover unsaved or corrupted Excel Notebooks

Arif Bacchus


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Nothing is worse than putting all of your hard work into an Excel notebook, only to see that it didn’t save as you close the app. Often, you’d think this means your file is gone for good, but did you know that you can still recover it? Here’s a look at a couple of ways how you can recover unsaved Excel Notebooks.

Recover the notebook from within Excel

Show Recovered Files

First up is the most common way to recover an Excel Notebook. Typically, Excel will autosave your notebook on a regular basis, so if the app quits, or if your computer crashes, there will be a special Recovered heading that will pop up the next time you re-open Excel. Click Show Recovered Files and then you’ll get the Document Recovery pane. You’ll be able to click the name of the file, and recover it and reopen it as nothing happened.

Try looking for a temporary file

Excel Recovery 2

A second way of bringing back an unsaved or corrupted Excel Workbook is to check for a temporary file. You can do this by opening the file in question, and then going to the File tab followed by Info and then Manage Workbook. You should see an option to Recover Unsaved Workbook. Be sure to click it, and then choose any unsaved workbooks in the File Explorer window that opens up.

Alternatively, you can skip through these hoops and try to recover the file directly from File Explorer. Hit the Windows Key and R and then enter the following text:


It’s likely you didn’t change it, but you can check the location of where files autosave directly from within Excel. You can do this by clicking File followed by Options and then Save.

Avoid problems, use OneDrive!

Although Excel can help you recover unsaved files, there’s a great way to avoid the situation entirely. You should try saving your files in OneDrive, instead. To do this, click the File ribbon followed by the Save button. From there, choose OneDrive. Now, as you type, your document will automatically be saved to OneDrive, instead of your PC. This gives you access to your files anywhere and gives you an extra piece of mind, too.