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How to Recover an Unsaved PowerPoint

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We’ve all been there: working on a presentation in PowerPoint, when suddenly, the app crashes!

Remember that moment of panic, thinking all of your hard work has been lost? You need to know how to recover unsaved PowerPoint files to save you time and a headache.

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Let's learn how to recover unsaved PPT files (Background icon source: Envato Elements.)

Not every PowerPoint is recoverable. But with a few steps, you can recover unsaved PowerPoint files in most cases. We'll cover that in this tutorial. Plus, you'll learn how to avoid lost PowerPoint files altogether.

How to Recover Unsaved PowerPoint Files

When you learn how to recover unsaved PowerPoint slides, you can avert a crisis. In moments, you can be back to work, without losing content. 

Consider times when you need to know how to recover unsaved PowerPoint presentations. You may accidentally close a file before saving, resulting in lost changes and edits. Or PowerPoint might crash. This could be caused by the app itself, or another issue.

When you learn how to recover unsaved PowerPoint decks, you can work stress-free. Even if an incident happens where PowerPoint closes, you’ll be comfortable knowing that you can recover your work. 

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Download the premium Novate PowerPoint Presentation Template to follow along with our tutorial.

Recovering unsaved PowerPoint files helps you save the best presentations you build. But how do you build amazing presentations? Easy.

With the Novate PowerPoint Presentation Template, you can build stunning slides every day. It's part of Envato Elements, an all-you-can-download creative subscription. We’ll use the Novate template to learn how to recover unsaved PowerPoint files. Download it today to follow along.

No matter which operating system you use, PowerPoint attempts to recover unsaved files. This will occur automatically when you reopen the app. In many cases, this instantly brings back your lost work. But sometimes, you have to dig deeper. Keep reading to learn how. 

1. Recover Unsaved PowerPoint Files on Windows

First, we’ll learn how to recover unsaved PPT decks on Microsoft Windows. The first step I like to take doesn’t always solve the issue, but it’s quick and easy. That’s because sometimes, you may actually have a saved copy of your slide deck.

Does PowerPoint autosave? Let's find out.

To check, click on the File tab in PowerPoint. Then, on the Home tab, look under Recent. If your presentation is listed there, click on it, and save it under a new name to start editing again.

Unfortunately, chances are that unsaved PPT files won’t appear in your Recent list. But you’re well on your way to getting them back. 

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Check your Recent list to see if your file may be saved and recoverable there.

Stay in the File > Home > Recent section, now scrolling to the bottom. You’ll see a message there labeled Recover Unsaved Presentations. Go ahead and click on it.

Depending upon how many PPT decks you’ve opened recently, you may not see this option. The Recover Unsaved Presentations button hides when you've got many recent files. To find it, click on More Presentations, and you’ll now see it at the bottom of the list of files.

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Use the Recover Unsaved Presentations option in PowerPoint to save lost files.

PowerPoint launches the Open file browser. It's pointed to the folder where unsaved, temporary PPTX files are kept. In many cases, this file path is AppData > Roaming > Microsoft > PowerPoint. If you have an unsaved file here, click it, then choose Open. Your missing slides open. 

Before doing anything else, be sure to go to File > Save As. Rename the presentation and save a new copy. Now, it’s safe to start working and editing again. 

This recovery technique uses a powerful PPT feature called AutoRecover. It's built to help you get back lost work. In essence, it answers "does PowerPoint autosave?" By default, the app saves a recovery file every ten minutes that you have the slide deck open. 

2. Recover Unsaved PowerPoint Files on macOS

PowerPoint works great on macOS, too! It’s growing more popular, and you may find yourself with an unsaved file on your Apple computer. Luckily, there are good Mac-based options to recover your unsaved work. Let’s work through some of them now.

To begin, you can check your Recent files, just in case there's a saved copy of your slide deck on your Mac. With PowerPoint back open, go to the File drop-down menu in the upper left. Click it, then hover over Open Recent. 

If you see your missing slides, click on them and PowerPoint opens the deck. Again, you’ll want to save a new copy of the file to ensure it’s editable and won’t become lost once more. 

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Check Recent in PowerPoint for macOS.

When you cannot find your missing file in your Recent list, you’re not out of options. Your next best step is to find where PowerPoint stores temporary files on your Mac. There’s a good chance that your lost PPT will be held there.

To get started, open Terminal on your Mac. To reach Terminal, open your Other folder in Launchpad. Or, you can simply launch it by opening a Spotlight search and typing in Terminal.

With Terminal open, paste in the following where the cursor is positioned by default:

echo $TMPDIR

Then, press Return on your keyboard. Next, paste in the following and hit Return again:

open $TMPDIR

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Use Terminal on macOS to open the folder containing PowerPoint's temporary files.

Your Mac launches the T (Temporary) folder, which contains many subfolders. Scroll down until you see the one labeled Open it up, and inside, you’ll see the TemporaryItems folder. 

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Recoverable files are found in the TemporaryItems folder on your Mac.

If PowerPoint has kept a recovery copy of your slides, you'll find it there.

Remember - always open the slide deck and save it under a new name to resume editing. 

As you can see, there are good options to recover unsaved PowerPoint files. They vary between operating systems, but they’re available for both Windows and Mac. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these techniques before you need them. That way, you can act fast when a slide deck goes missing! 

Prevention is your best bet. You won’t have to recover missing PowerPoints if they never get lost in the first place. Next up, let’s explore some prevention steps. 

How to Prevent Loss of PowerPoint Files

In PowerPoint, there are two distinct ways that files are saved or archived. These are the AutoSave and AutoRecover options. AutoSave is the easiest and best option. 

It does exactly what the name suggests. Whenever you make a change to your slide deck, a copy is automatically saved. Even if PowerPoint (or your computer) crashes, you’ll be able to easily retrieve your slides. However, AutoSave isn't enabled by default in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Turning on AutoSave works identically on both Windows and Mac. With PowerPoint open, look in the upper left corner of the screen, on the orange menu bar. You’ll see a toggle button labeled AutoSave. To enable AutoSave, click on the button so that it reads On.

Now, any time you make a change in your PPT slide deck, it'll be saved automatically. If PowerPoint crashes, your finished presentation is saved and ready to work with.

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Activate AutoSave on PowerPoint for Windows or Mac using the toggle switch in the upper left corner.

Windows and Mac both support PowerPoint’s other leading way to retrieve lost files. That’s AutoRecover, and you saw it demonstrated above where we retrieved temporary files.

As mentioned, by default, AutoRecover saves files every ten minutes. That means that if you’ve made just a few quick edits, you might lose your work if PPT crashes. 

Fortunately, you can change the interval so that AutoRecover saves a backup of your PPT more often. To do this, use the following steps on Windows:

  1. Go to File > Options.
  2. Click on the Save tab in the PowerPoint Options sidebar.
  3. In the Save Presentations group, ensure that the Save AutoRecover Information box is checked. Then, lower the time from the default of 10 minutes to a lower value, like every 2 minutes.
  4. Press OK.
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Change the AutoRecover time interval on Windows using this menu.

Now, an AutoRecover file of your PPT will be retained more frequently. This enables you to rescue your lost PPT files easily.

Working on a Mac? To step up the pace of AutoRecover, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the PowerPoint button in the top left corner of your screen.
  2. From the drop-down, choose Preferences.
  3. In the Output and Sharing group, click Save.
  4. Change the time interval using the arrow buttons.
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Using this menu on macOS, you can change the AutoRecover interval.

As you can see, it’s easy to avoid the loss of PowerPoint files. Before you get to work building presentations, be sure to enable AutoSave.

Does PowerPoint autosave? With this tweak, absolutely!

And it’s always a good idea to generate AutoRecover save points more frequently. When you do, you can work with peace of mind knowing that you’ll never lose any work in Microsoft PowerPoint. 

The Best Source for Simple PowerPoint Templates (With Unlimited Use)

Envato Elements is a subscription that offers an unlimited variety of PowerPoint templates. These templates come in a variety of styles and designs, making it easy to find one that fits your specific needs.

Find PowerPoint Templates

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With Envato Elements, you’ll enjoy unlimited PowerPoint template downloads for a flat monthly rate.

When you use Envato Elements, you’ll enjoy:

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  • Ease of use. All templates are easy to customize and are fully editable in PowerPoint. This makes them accessible, flexible options for users of all skill levels. 

By joining Envato Elements, you'll have unlimited access. That includes professional PowerPoint templates that'll help you create engaging, visually appealing presentations.

Join today to enjoy the benefits of Envato Elements. You’ll be glad you did!

Keep Learning Microsoft PowerPoint

Now, you know how to recover unsaved PPT files. This valuable skill is a great one to build on with more helpful articles. Keep learning, even after you've mastered how to recover unsaved PowerPoint files.

Check out more top tutorials with the links below. We've compiled the best PowerPoint resources in our guide, How to Use PowerPoint (Ultimate Tutorial Guide.)

More Top Templates for Microsoft PowerPoint

Let's say that our steps for how to recover unsaved PPT files didn't work. It's regretful, but unfortunately, it happens.

What you can do at this point is rebuild in an efficient way. That means starting not from scratch, but with the help of a template. These templates have most of the work done for you. Just fill them in with your content. See more of the best templates in these articles:

Now You Know How to Recover Unsaved PowerPoint Presentations

You know now how to recover unsaved PowerPoint files if at all possible. Remember: if you lose your PowerPoint, restart with a premium template. It helps you make your deadline without starting from a blank slate.

You may not need this skill today, but it's an important one to know for the future. Bookmark this tutorial on how to recover unsaved PPT for when disaster strikes. You might just be able to save the time versus rebuilding your slide deck!

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