How to recover an unsaved PowerPoint | Step by Step Guide

You’ve been working for almost a full day on a PowerPoint presentation that will support you during a presentation you’re going to give in front of several people soon. You were very satisfied with the final result, except that, all of a sudden, the irreparable happened: a power outage in your home caused your computer to suddenly shut down.

Since you have a (bad) habit of saving files only when you’ve finished editing them, you’re really afraid that what just happened has ruined hours and hours of hard work, and you don’t know where to turn. That’s just the way it is, isn’t it? In this case, I invite you to stay calm: perhaps all is not lost. There are procedures that, with a bit of luck, can restore your PowerPoint presentations even if they haven’t been saved.

What are you talking about? I’ll explain immediately. If you give me a few minutes of your precious time, I can explain how to recover an unsaved PowerPoint by implementing all possible solutions, both on computers and on smartphones and tablets. Enjoy your reading and good luck with everything!

How to recover an unsaved PowerPoint: computer

If you agree, I would start by showing you how to recover an unsaved PowerPoint on the desktop variant of the program in question. You should know that on both Windows and macOS, the files you work on are kept in the form of temporary items on the disk, even if they have not been saved. For this very reason, it is often possible to restore them in case of an emergency. Besides, PowerPoint also has an efficient feature of automatically restoring documents that were closed by mistake without prior saving. Here are all the details.

How to recover unsaved PowerPoint: Windows

If you are trying to recover an unsaved PowerPoint file after a sudden program shutdown or a Windows computer crash, you have a good chance of recovering it thanks to the aforementioned automatic recovery feature built into PowerPoint and other programs of the Microsoft Office suite.

You can immediately test this by starting PowerPoint from the list of installed programs in the Windows Start menu. Once you have opened the software in question, click the Home button in the upper left corner (it has a house icon) and then click the Restore Unsaved Presentations button at the bottom. Alternatively, click the Open item on the left and then press the Restore Unsaved Slideshow button.

In the area on the left, the program will show you a list of recent unsaved files. To proceed, right-click on the file you want to restore and then select the Save As item. Then choose a location for the file export and finally click the Save button. See how simple it was?

You should know that even if you do not manually save the files you are working on and you have not enabled PowerPoint’s automatic saving feature, the program has a restore function enabled by default that saves temporary files every 10 minutes; if you want to lower this time threshold and thus allow more frequent automatic saving, click the Options item in the lower left corner of PowerPoint’s main page.

Next, click Save and from there type 1 in the box next to Save autosave information every, and then click the OK button. You can also enable automatic saving to OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service included with Windows 10 that offers, in its basic version, 5 GB of free online storage space on Microsoft’s servers.

In this way, even if some problem should occur with your computer, your files will remain safe on the cloud and you’ll be able to retrieve them whenever you want. To activate saving on OneDrive, you just have to open any PowerPoint file and press the switch in the upper left corner, next to the Auto Save item.

You’ll then have to select your Microsoft account or, if you haven’t done so before, you can also associate your account with OneDrive.

Unbeknownst to you, the automatic saving to the Microsoft cloud system may have been activated before, so if you are trying to recover a PowerPoint file you were working on, I also recommend checking your personal space on the service

To do so, open the OneDrive login page, press the Sign In button, enter your Microsoft account login credentials (if prompted) and click on the Recent Items item on the left. If you find the file you were looking for, right-click on it and press the Download button.

In addition, I also recommend checking the storage space of other cloud services, such as Google Drive and Dropbox on which you may have saved a preliminary version of the file, so you can find it again and see how far your progress has been saved.

If you haven’t had any luck with the methods I just mentioned, try searching for temporary files with the Windows File Explorer: during the work session, in fact, Microsoft’s operating system automatically saves some copies of the files.

To do this check, click on the folder icon located in the lower left corner of the Windows taskbar and type one of the following strings into the search field located in the upper right corner: ppt*.tmp, .ppt, .pptx, .pptm, .odp, .pps, .ppsx or .pot.

If you have found such a file, right-click on it, click on the Rename item and type a name of your choice for the file followed by .pptx. Then right-click on the file icon again and select Open With from the context menu to open it with PowerPoint and check whether the file is the one you were trying to recover.

Make sure you also check the Windows temporary files folder manually; to do this, press the Win+R key combination, type %temp% into the input field of the Run panel that appears on the screen and press the OK button.

Finally, if you’ve enabled Windows 10’s backup feature, you can also check if you find a copy of the file by logging into Windows Settings (press the Start button, the one with the Windows flag located at the bottom left corner), after which go to Update & Security > Backup > Restore files from a current backup

Just as a “last resort”, if none of the previously mentioned solutions yielded the desired results, you could try scanning your PC’s disk with a program to recover deleted data, then filtering the results to show only PPT/PPTX files, but the success rates of the operation are low, I warn you.

How to recover unsaved PowerPoint: Mac

Capture 381

The operation of the desktop variant of PowerPoint for Mac is very similar to that of Windows, so the first solutions I told you about in the previous chapter remain valid. In this case too, in fact, whether the autosave feature is enabled or not, PowerPoint will create a backup copy of the files you’re working on and you can take advantage of this feature to try to recover a seemingly lost presentation.

If there is a backup copy of the file you’ve been working on recently, PowerPoint will tell you about it as soon as it starts up and you can open it by clicking the OK button (or you can find the copy by clicking on the Recent tab). If you want this backup copy to be saved more frequently (the default is 10 minutes), once you have started PowerPoint on your Mac, go to PowerPoint > Preferences and, in the window that opens, select the Save tab.

In the box below Save Auto Save Information type 1 and then close the window. If, on the other hand, you want to enable automatic saving via OneDrive or check whether a copy of the file you were working on has been saved in this cloud service, I invite you again to consult the chapter on Windows.

The other solution you can take advantage of is to manually check the temporary files folder of macOS. To do this, click on the Go item located at the top of the macOS menu bar, then click on the Utilities item and, from there, open the Terminal application. Then type the command open $TMPDIR and press the Enter key.

Now scroll through the list of files, open the TemporaryItems folder and check if there are any PowerPoint files in this location. I also encourage you to check the unsaved PowerPoint files folder. To do this, launch the Finder (the smiley face icon in the Dock), select the Go to folder… item from the context menu, and from there explore the ~/Users/[username]/Library/Containers/MicrosoftPowerPoint/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery.

Once you’ve found a file like this (it should have _authorcover in the name), move it to a location of your choice (such as your Desktop), right-click on it and select Rename from the context menu. Then type a name followed by the .pptx extension and try to open the file with PowerPoint.

Finally, as on Windows, you can also check for possible backups of files created automatically with the functional Time Machine application that comes “standard” on Apple’s operating system. To do this, go to the folder where you think the file of your interest might have been previously saved, launch Time Machine from the MacOS Launchpad and scroll, via the right sidebar, to the date of your interest.

Then check the files present in the chosen Finder location and, once you’ve found the file you’re looking for, click on it and press the Restore button located at the bottom right.

Also regarding the Mac, as a “last resort” you can try checking the cloud storage services (e.g. iCloud Drive and Google Drive you use) and scanning the computer’s drive with a program to recover deleted data, but the success rates are not very high.

How to recover an unsaved PowerPoint: smartphones and tablets

Recovering a file that you didn’t save on the PowerPoint mobile app (available on Android and iOS/iPadOS) is perfectly possible and, indeed, in this case, compared to on a computer, recovery is even more immediate. Find all the details below.

How to recover an unsaved PowerPoint on Android

As for the Android version of PowerPoint, every time you create a new presentation, the app will offer you as a default option to create the file on your personal space in OneDrive.

This way, even if something unexpected happens, you can retrieve the file directly from the cloud storage, I’ve explained how to do that here. Alternatively, you can also use the OneDrive app, which you can download by opening this page of the Play Store and pressing the Install button (check alternative stores if your device doesn’t have access to Google services).

Once you’ve launched the OneDrive app and logged in with the same Microsoft account credentials you use on PowerPoint, you should find the presentation you’ve been working on recently in the Home tab (to download it, just press the ⁝ icon next to its name on the right and then tap on Download).

Please note that even if you chose to create the file on your phone’s memory and not on OneDrive’s storage space, even if your device shuts down or the app crashes, you will be able to find the file you are working on by opening the app again and tapping on the Recents entry at the bottom left.

This is because on the PowerPoint app the automatic saving feature is enabled by default (to check this setting just open any file, press the ⁝ icon in the top right corner, tap on the Settings item and, from there, check that the switch under Automatically save files is shown in red; if not, tap on it to fix it). Nothing too complex, agree?

In addition, I also recommend you do a manual search through your temporary files using any file manager. These are applications designed to explore the internal memory of devices and open files (I’ve recommended the ones I think are the most valid in this guide; besides, several Android smartphones already have this kind of app preinstalled, you might find them in the app menu with a folder icon and the name File Manager or File Explorer).

Once you’ve launched the file manager, just select a folder called Storage (or Shared Internal Storage, depending on the device you’re using) and explore the contents of the Documents folder and the PowerPoint folder. Give it a try now to see if you can find what you’re looking for!

How to recover unsaved PowerPoint on iPhone

Capture2 15

The PowerPoint app for iPhone and iPad is similar to its Android counterpart and, for this reason, the solutions I proposed in the previous chapter still apply.

The only difference with Apple devices is that on the latter you don’t have the ability to search the device’s memory manually


Visited 1 times, 1 visit(s) today