You’ve been working tirelessly on a presentation. The creativity is flowing, you’re in a groove, and you’re masterfully pulling together what will be an epic PowerPoint presentation. For whatever reason as you juggle various files on your desktop, a part of your brain cramps up and you accidentally close (without saving) your presentation. This may never have happened to you, but it has happened to me a few times, including last Friday.
I was building a product demo presentation in PowerPoint, and I was incorporating multiple screenshot images from Photoshop. With multiple PowerPoint files and applications open on my desktop, I stared briefly at a window that I thought was an image I had already captured and cropped in Photoshop. I closed the “Photoshop” file, and then looked for my main PowerPoint file. To my disappointment, I realized I had just closed my PowerPoint presentation. Then my mind raced back to when I had last saved the file – surely I hadn’t been that stupid and had saved it recently. Right? Right?!!
To my horror, I discovered I hadn’t been diligently saving my presentation, and the last saved version was from a few hours ago. I had been “in the zone” previously, and now it was going to cost me dearly.
Panic started setting in because I really didn’t have time to redo what I had already done. Nothing feels as unproductive (and stupid) as reproducing something I had already created once before, especially when it would take me 2-3 hours I didn’t have. When your computer crashes or is unexpectedly interrupted, Microsoft displays recovered files when you restart PowerPoint. However, in this case the software wouldn’t know that user-error had caused me to lose the most recent version of my PowerPoint file. I then thought if PowerPoint’s AutoRecover feature is saving a temporary file of my presentations for when something unexpected happens, a more recent version of my presentation must be sitting somewhere on my computer. If I could just find it, a personal crisis would be averted.
Steps to recover a previously saved file in PowerPoint 2010
Step 1: The first thing you need to confirm is that you have AutoRecover enabled. If PowerPoint’s AutoRecover feature has been disabled, you’re royally screwed (sorry). Go to File > Options and a pop-up Options menu window will appear. Then go to the Save tab. Within the Save tab under the Save Presentations section at the top of the window, you’ll see some different AutoRecover options. Hopefully, you have the two options below enabled (they should be by default in PowerPoint 2010).
Step 2: In this same window, you’ll see that PowerPoint tells you where it saves the AutoRecover files on your computer.
To find these files, I went to my local disk (C: drive) and then followed the folder structure listed below. I can’t recall if some of these folders are hidden so here’s a link to how to unhide folders in Windows 7 and Windows XP. Look for a folder that contains the name of your PowerPoint file and open that folder to find the most recently saved version of your presentation.
Steps to recover a new file in PowerPoint 2010
If you’re working on a new PowerPoint file that you never saved before such as a presentation from an email attachment, there’s a slightly different and easier approach for recovering those files. In PowerPoint 2010, just go to File > Recent and at the very bottom right you’ll see a link for “Recover Unsaved Presentations”, which will take you to a folder with PowerPoint files that were never saved when the files were closed.
Note: These files are temporary and will be deleted from your computer if you don’t retrieve them promptly. I couldn’t find any information on how long you have to grab the files, but assume you have 2-3 days max.
The first method worked for me, and I was able to recover all of the work I had lost. I wanted to share this tip in the hope that it helps other people who find themselves in the same situation as me (or may find themselves in the same situation in the future). There is hope! This new feature only applies to PowerPoint 2010 so while my heart goes out to you if you have a previous version, I don’t have any tips for the same situation with PowerPoint 2007 or 2003. It appears the temporary files for those versions were limited to only recovery situations where your system crashed unexpectedly and not user error situations. It’s a good thing I only recently started making user errors in PowerPoint 2010 and never in the other versions…