Have any of these daytime dramas happened to you???
- Scene One: You actually click No to the question: “Do you want to save the changes to [insert document name here] ?
- Scene Two: You open (but not save) a document attached to an Outlook email. Although you are hitting ‘Save’ in Word, and close it, when you open it up again the edits are missing.
- Scene Three: You are happily typing along in Word and then, all of a sudden, the screen freezes and you realize you had not saved in a while (okay it’s been 2 hours). You try to save but all you hear is the Windows “Ding!” wav file. (It’s not making fun of you – really~!)
I’ve heard all these stories before. So let us review how to recover from these bad practices and unfortunate circumstances.
- Scene One-The Fix (maybe): After you do the Homer Simpson “DOH!” take a deep breath and try the following:
(Disclaimer: This may or may not work. Everything I read on the Internet, including from Microsoft’s site says No, it can’t be done. However I have had success before so I know it works…sometimes.)
We are searching for all files edited during the time frame you were working on your document that have a “tilde” in front of its name (~) and also any files with a “.tmp” file extension.
Click Start, click Search, and then click For Files or Folders.
In the Search for files or folders named box, type “~*.”
If you don’t find any, also look for any files or folders named “*.tmp.”
In the Look in box, point to the arrow, and then click My Computer.
Click Search Now.
Once you find these precious files:
Right-click on the file to display the shortcut menu.
Choose Open With.
Choose to open the file with Notepad.exe (Listed under Programs, Accessories).
What will appear may look like just a bunch of weird characters but if you find a chunk of text, like I found for one attorney, you can cut and paste into Word and reformat it. Note: As I have mentioned above, I have done this before, but so far, only twice successfully, so I’m 2:2; however, your mileage may vary
Scene Two-The Fix: You received an email with a document attached. Rather than save somewhere on your hard drive in a folder, you opened the document and began editing. The Save button, although used, does not necessarily save your document. A lot of attorneys do this, in every law firm I’ve ever had the pleasure of working in.
Unfortunately, by default, the document’s edits are stored in a temporary Internet folder that is not ‘viewable’ or navigable, especially if you are running Windows XP with Office 2003 installed.
To retrieve your document edits try this method:
- Open the original email.
- Double-click the attachment and open it again.
- Click File, Save As. This opens that mysterious folder location with a name that starts with OLK….
- Scroll through the list documents until you see your document listed.
Depending on how many times you opened and edited it, it may have a number in parenthesis at the end of the document name.
In my example above there are two copies (and one original). Looking at the documents’ Date Modified and Size information will help you decide which is the most recent one (notice that version (2) is 85 KB and version (3) is 83KB).
- Right-click on the desired document and choose Cut.
- Click the drop-down arrow next to the Save In: field and choose another folder location.
- Right-Click and choose Paste.
- Cancel the Save As dialog box and close the document without saving.
- Navigate to the file location where you pasted the document and open it. Your previous edits should be there.
Scene Three: I’m Frozen! I click and nothing happens. (P.S. I forgot to press ‘Save As’)
When you don’t ’save’ a document directly from an email, when opened, it creates a temporary file. Word determines automatically where and when it needs to create temporary files. The temporary files only exist during the current session of Word. When Word is shut down in a normal fashion, all temporary files are first closed and then deleted.
I know some of you may know of a more elegant way of handling this, but this is how I do it:
- Make sure anything else is not opened that valuable. (To see other things running, hold down the ALT key and hit TAB to navigate to another open program).
- Power down your computer (I know…) by pressing the off/on button. Wait ten seconds.
- Turn on your computer then open Word.
- The AutoRecovery Task Pane will appear to the left side of the screen. It lists all the files opened prior to the shut down.
- Click the drop-down arrow next to the document and choose Open.
- Check to see if your edits are present in the document.
If so, save the recovered document over the older one using Save As, navigating to the old version and save over it. If you just click Save, you may have issues with having two similar documents in two different locations, causing further confusion.
Now that you have gained your composure (hopefully) again, let us review the very best practices for saving documents:
- When receiving a file as an email attachment, save the file(s) immedidately to a local location (C:\, D:\, etc.); otherwise, it will save to a temporary folder.
- Do as Ben Franklin used to instruct, “Save and save often.” Even today, Ben’s advice holds true for technology.
- Update Word’s AutoRecovery option to be five minutes instead of ten.
To locate the setting for AutoRecovery, from the menu bar (2003):
- Click Tools
- Click Options
- Open the Save tab
- Make sure the check box for AutoRecovery is enabled. Type the number of minutes you want to backup your document contents. I suggest five minutes.
If you are a geek, like me and want to learn more about recovering Word files, here are some great links to look at:
Okay, back to drafting!