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Recovering Unsaved Presentations in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

Learn how to recover unsaved, lost presentations in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows. These options work if you enable AutoRecover and AutoSave within PowerPoint.


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Product/Version: PowerPoint 2016 for Windows

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 and higher



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Imagine this situation: you started working on a presentation, saved it a couple of times, then got so much involved in your work that you spent an inordinate amount of time working on it without saving it. Then, your computer unexpectedly crashes or just shuts off due to some unexpected crisis. Or maybe just PowerPoint crashes for some reason. Does it mean you are now left with your presentation in the status when you last saved it and lost all your work? Not really because you can restart PowerPoint, and one of two occurrences may happen:

  1. PowerPoint starts with opening the presentation file, so you can save any recovered work and continue using your file.
  2. The Document Recovery Task Pane appears, with up to three autosaved versions of your file. You can select which version you want to keep.

AutoRecover and AutoSave

To see the options mentioned above, you must have AutoRecover and AutoSave options turned on, and you should also ensure that the save interval is sufficiently set to save your work frequently.

Follow these steps to use the Document Recovery Task Pane to recover your presentation after PowerPoint or your OS crashes in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows:

  1. Launch PowerPoint and you may see the Document Recovery Task Pane, as shown in Figure 1, below.
  2. Document Recovery Task Pane
    Figure 1: Document Recovery Task Pane
  3. Within the Available Files list, click the button with the downward pointing arrow next to the recovered file, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 1, above, to bring up a drop-down list.
  4. There are four options available within the list, which are explained below:
  5. Click the Open option to review the recovered version of the file
  6. Click the Save As option to rename and create a new version of the file
  7. Click the Delete option to delete any recovered version(s) of the file
  8. The Show Repairs option is often grayed out, unless PowerPoint finds a file that's not completely useable, then attempts to salvage whatever content it can save. You can then select the Show Repairs option to proceed.
  9. Save and keep any recovered file that you want.

Recovering Presentations Manually

Another possibility of losing your work done on your presentation is if you close the presentation in a hurry, ignoring PowerPoint's warning to save it (which is almost impossible). Note that in this case when you re-open PowerPoint, the Document Recovery Task Pane won't appear. And if you need to see presentations within the Document Recovery Task Pane, there really isn't an intuitive way to launch it. To access this list of autosaved presentations manually without Document Recovery Task Pane, follow these steps:

  1. Launch PowerPoint 2016, access the File menu, and choose Options, as shown in Figure 2, below. You can also press both the Alt and T keys together, and next press O.
  2. PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts

    PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts

    Do you want more keyboard shortcuts?

    Explore our PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts and Sequences Ebook that is updated for all PowerPoint versions.

  3. Options within the File menu
    Figure 2: Choose File | Options
  4. Doing so brings up the PowerPoint Options dialog box, as shown in Figure 3, below. Within the PowerPoint Options dialog box's sidebar, make sure that the Save option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 3, is selected. Locate the AutoRecover file location box, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 3.
  5. PowerPoint Options dialog box
    Figure 3: PowerPoint Options dialog box
  6. Copy the AutoRecover file location folder path, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 3, above. Close the PowerPoint Options dialog box.
  7. Now, access the Backstage view, select the Open option, as shown highlighted in blue within Figure 4, below. Then, select the This PC option, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 4. Finally click the Browse button, as shown highlighted in green within Figure 4.
  8. Browse button
    Figure 4: Browse button
  9. Doing so brings up the Open dialog box, as shown in Figure 5, below. Notice the area highlighted in red within Figure 5. Within this area paste the previously copied AutoRecover file location folder path.
  10. Open dialog box
    Figure 5: Open dialog box
  11. Now, within the Open dialog box you can see the names of all presentations that were open in the last session of PowerPoint, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 6, below. But as you can notice, there are folders instead of PowerPoint files. Just double-click on the folder that shows the name of the presentation you want to recover.
  12. AutoRecover file location opened within Open dialog box
    Figure 6: AutoRecover file location opened within Open dialog box
  13. This action will show all the recoverable autosaved (and also unsaved) versions of the selected presentation, as shown in Figure 7, below. Select the file and click the Open button to recover it.
  14. Files within the Open dialog box
    Figure 7: Files within the Open dialog box
  15. Doing so will open the selected presentation in PowerPoint as shown in Figure 8, below. You will see a strip above the Slide Area to indicate the fact that this is a recovered presentation. Just click the Restore button, as shown highlighted in red within Figure 8, to save it as original file. A window will show confirming that you are overwriting the last saved version. Click the OK button in the window to accept.
  16. Recovered unsaved file
    Figure 8: Recovered unsaved file

More Recovery Options

If you have lost any presentation that was not even saved once, that presentation will be autosaved in a different location. To learn how to recover the presentations that were not even saved once, explore our Recovering New Unsaved Presentations Manually in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows tutorial.


See Also:

16 03 02 - Manage Versions: Recovering Unsaved Presentations in PowerPoint (Glossary Page)

Recovering Unsaved Presentations in PowerPoint 2013 for Windows
Recovering Unsaved Presentations in PowerPoint 2010 for Windows

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