Recover an unsaved PowerPoint– here’s how to do it

With the popular Microsoft 365 programs including Excel, Word, or PowerPoint, users create files on a daily basis that often involve a lot of work. This makes it all the worse when a file is accidentally deleted or not saved. Even unpredictable events such as a power failure or computer crash can cause files to be closed without saving. Fortunately, there are several methods available to you for recovering a PowerPoint. We’ll introduce you to the best options and explain step by step how to recover a PowerPoint file.

Recovering an unsaved PowerPoint file

If you try to close an unsaved PowerPoint file, the program will display a warning message. This message lets you know that the file won’t close without saving the most recent changes until you confirm again. Despite this precaution, it can happen that open programs are closed without saving and data is lost. Unforeseen situations can also cause the program to close without saving. However, there are several ways to recover a PowerPoint that has not been saved. In the following, we explain step by step how to recover a PowerPoint.

Tip

The files of other Microsoft 365 programs can also be restored in this kind of a situation: find out more on the topic in our article “Recover Excel files” and “Recover Word files”.

Finding temporary files to reconstruct an unsaved PowerPoint

In the so-called “temp” folder, Windows saves temporary files on an ongoing basis. There’s also a possibility, that unsaved contents of your PowerPoint can be found in this folder.

Step 1: Search for the file

Open File Explorer and enter the term “PPT*.tmp” into the search bar. Now wait and see if the search comes up with anything.

Note

When saving, PowerPoint adds a random number to the filename. Since you don’t know this number, you can use * as a placeholder.

Step 2: Rename the file

If a PowerPoint file shows up in File Explorer, you can now rename it with .ppt at the end.

Step 3: Recover an unsaved PowerPoint file

Next, open the file to check whether it’s actually the unsaved PowerPoint file. To recover the file, simply save it to another location on your computer.

Using the integrated PowerPoint function

As of Office version 2010, PowerPoint offers an integrated function to recover an unsaved PowerPoint. To make use of this function, proceed as follows:

Step 1: Show last-used files

Open the presentation program, click on the menu point “Open” and then select “Recent” from the left menu bar.

Step 2: Recover a PowerPoint file that wasn’t saved

Now, you can click on the button “Recover Unsaved Presentations”.

A folder will now open in which all saved drafts can be found. If the file you’re looking for is there, left-click on it and select “Open”. Save the file as per usual. You can now continue to work on your presentation.

Recover an old version of a PowerPoint file

While working on a PowerPoint presentation, unwanted changes can quickly be rectified with the key combination [Ctrl] + [Z]. In this way, deleted paragraphs of text can be brought back with just a few clicks. But as soon as you save a file and close it, this data will be lost. Follow these steps to recover an old version of a PowerPoint file.

Restoring previous versions of a PowerPoint file

Use the right side of your mouse to click on a file and select “Previous Versions” from the menu bar. A new window will open in which the corresponding tab is already auto-selected. In this window, previous versions of your PowerPoint file can be found, but only if a recovery point is marked. Select a previous version to restore an old version of your PowerPoint.

Recovering old versions from cloud storage

If you automatically save your files to Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, or another cloud storage, then you have another option for recovering an unsaved PowerPoint. Search for previous versions, manage your old files, and recover the file you’re looking for.

Recover a deleted PowerPoint file

It’s usually recommended to delete files that you no longer use or files that are outdated. In this way, you’ll maintain an overview and keep your file system clear. But what do you do if you accidently delete an important PowerPoint file?

Step 1: Open the recycle bin

When you delete a file, it’s not completely deleted from your computer. First, deleted files end up in your recycle bin. Open the recycle bin by double-clicking on the waste bin icon.

Step 2: Search for the unsaved PowerPoint file

Enter the name of your PowerPoint file into the search field of the recycle bin program.

Step 3: Recover PowerPoint file

Now, use the right side of your mouse to click on the file and select the option “Undo Delete” from the menu. Your presentation will now automatically reappear in the folder from where you deleted it.

Recover a damaged PowerPoint file

You’ve saved a PowerPoint file, but you’re not able to open it? We’ll show you different ways to recover a damaged PowerPoint.

Move a Presentation to recover a PowerPoint file

In most cases, it’s not possible to tell whether the location or the file itself is damaged. If the file can be restored with the following instructions, the location is affected. In this case, it is recommended to restore and backup all files from this folder.

Step 1: Save file in a temporary location

Open the folder where the damaged file is located. Open the context menu with a right-click on the file. Select the “Copy” option to save the file to the clipboard.

Step 2: Copy file into another folder

Then open any folder or create a new one. Paste the file by right-clicking on a free area and selecting “Paste” from the context menu. You can also copy the file to the folder by using the key combination [Ctrl] + [V].

Step 3: Open file

Try to open the file with a double click. If this is possible without any problems, you may recover the PowerPoint and find that the original location itself is damaged.

Paste slides into a new presentation

In many cases, however, it’s not the location that’s damaged, but the PowerPoint file itself. In this case, the program offers a handy function to insert the slides into a new and undamaged file.

Step 1: Open a new presentation

Open up an empty PowerPoint presentation.

Step 2: Recover unsaved PowerPoint

In the menu, select “Start” and select “New Slide” from the drop-down menu. Using the left side of the mouse, choose the option “Reuse Slides”.

A field with the same title will appear on the right. Click on the “Browse” button and select the file you want to restore in Explorer. A thumbnail preview of all slides will appear. Click on the slides with the left mouse button to insert them into the new presentation. To restore the entire unsaved PowerPoint file, right-click to open the context menu and click the “Insert all slides” option.

Step 3: Save file

As soon as you’ve transferred all slides, make sure that you save the file in a new location.

Open PowerPoint in safe mode

If a PowerPoint file cannot be opened in normal mode, try starting it in safe mode. To do this, hold down the controlkey[Ctrl] and then double-click on the PowerPoint file to select it. Click “Yes” in the confirmation window to open the presentation in safe mode.

Tip

Most Office programs can be opened in safe mode using this technique.

Now, you can look for any issues with the file before saving it under a new name.

Recommendations to avoid losing PowerPoint files

Despite the many options to recover a PowerPoint file, a successful recovery isn’t guaranteed. That’s why it’s important to use the shortcut [Ctrl] + [S] throughout your work. With this shortcut, you’ll save your file and make sure your work isn’t lost.

As of the 2010 version, PowerPoint comes with an integrated function that automatically saves open presentations. We’ll show you how to activate the function and avoid losing your files.

Option 1: Activate automatic saving in the menu bar

Activate the function in the PowerPoint menu bar by moving the switch to “AutoSave ON”.

Option 2: Activate auto-save via the options

If you activate the function in the “Options” area, additional custom settings are available. Select the “File” button in the menu. Then click on “Options” followed by “Save”. Activate the function “Save AutoRecover information every…” and enter the desired time interval for the automatic saving. If you enable the “Keep the last AutoRecovered version if I close without saving” option, you avoid losing data if you accidentally close the PowerPoint file without saving it. If necessary, you can also adjust the location of the file to make it easier to find the backed up files.

Tip

Use the entire Office package, Microsoft 365, and make the most of benefits like five installations per user, the latest version, as well as SSL/TLS encryption.


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