Where did my word document go?
October 22, 2010 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft word emergency. Please help!

Windows 7; office 2007.

Person sends me an email containing a document. I erroneously think said document is a link to a document stored on the server; it isn't, it's just a document. I work on the document all day, dutifully saving in regular intervals. I close word and shut down the computer.

Open the computer a couple hours later. Go to the place on the sever where the document should be. No luck. Go to my recently accessed documents on the hard drive. No luck.

Surely this damn document is SOMEWHERE, right? some temp file? somewhere? Can anyone tell me where?
posted by dpx.mfx to Computers & Internet (32 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Did you open back up the email and try to open the document from in there?
posted by CathyG at 5:05 PM on October 22, 2010

It's probably in your temp files directory, wherever your email program saves files you open from email.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:06 PM on October 22, 2010

I did try to open it from the email - I got the original doc. I have no idea where the temp files directory is.... trying to search!
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:09 PM on October 22, 2010

Sometimes this works for me:

-I receive email with MS Word doc
-I open it, make changes, hit save
-Realize I have no idea where I saved it (hint: it's in the temp folder by default)
-I open the document from the email again, like I did in second bullet above
-I click 'file', 'save as', and see which folder it automatically loads for me to save it in (hint: this is the temp folder)
-I use windows explorer to navigate to that folder and find the word file there.

Hopefully that helps.
posted by Yunani at 5:12 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

Does your computer have a "downloads" folder? That is one idea.

Also, searching for unique words in the document using a specific search for Word docs ought to bring it up out of the temp folder.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:14 PM on October 22, 2010

Outlook (usually?) saves temporary files in the following directory:

C:\Documents & Settings\yourusername\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\OLKnnn

...where nnn is a series of numbers.


"Local Settings" is hidden, so you'll have to enable the viewing of hidden files & folders to see it.

Also, The OLKnnn directories cannot be browsed to in the standard way using Explorer. As soon as you hit "Temporary Internet Files", Explorer transforms to "let's have a peek at some of your IE cookies" mode, which is slightly less than useful. You'll have to enable the address bar (if it's invisible), and type in the directory by hand to see it. You might even have to open a command prompt and DIR /ADH in "Temporary Internet Files" to see which OLK directories are available for searching through. You'll often find a few of them.

I haven't fiddled in DOS in awhile. That DIR command might be wonky.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:18 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

@tapesonthefloor I think if the user can grab the path from the 'save as' function of Word, then he/she can use Start>Run>{copy/paste path here} and hit enter and that will load an explorer window of that temp folder.
posted by Yunani at 5:21 PM on October 22, 2010

tapesonthefloor, there is no "documents and settings" that i can find in windows 7. Thee are no temporary directories that I can find anywhere. And I can't tell how to even make it let me view hidden directories/files. that's the right stuff for dos, and I can bump around in the cmd, but I still can't figure out where the temps are. GRRR.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:27 PM on October 22, 2010

Trehorn, I tried that too; I think whatever folder it is in (if it is in) is hidden from search - I can't figure out how to make it show them.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:28 PM on October 22, 2010

If you use Outlook, try outlooksecuretempfolder in the Office folder under your user folder.
posted by quadrilaterals at 5:29 PM on October 22, 2010

Also, here's how to view hidden folders.
posted by quadrilaterals at 5:29 PM on October 22, 2010

the "save as" function goes directly to the documents folder, where this document is not.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:29 PM on October 22, 2010

Can you email yourself another word document, edit the copy you received, save it, then see when it's being saved? Hopefully our original should be next to it.

Does word 2007 let you open recently used documents?
posted by stereo at 5:30 PM on October 22, 2010

Have you tried the 'recent documents' list that you get when you click on the 'office' icon in word?
posted by nightwood at 5:32 PM on October 22, 2010

If you can't find the right directory, try this. Create a new Word document (use a completely new name). Send it to yourself via email. Open it & make a change. Save it. Then use "Save As" and look in your history/recent places folder for the location of the most recent save - that should be the folder where the older document is saved as well.
posted by gemmy at 5:32 PM on October 22, 2010

It is not in the recently used documents.

Quadrilaterals, that works for XP, but not windows 7. Here's a link for Windows 7, should anyone need it in the future: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/tutorial151.html

Stero, when I try that, it saves in the documents folder. If I just hit "save" instead of "save as" I have no idea where it's going.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:34 PM on October 22, 2010

Have a look at this post. Basically, what it is saying is to open the registry and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Security and check the value of OutlookSecureTempFolder. This should tell you where the folder is. Make sure you enable hidden folders (quadrilaterals has nailed it above). The file *should* be in this folder.

I hate Windows! Best of luck!!
posted by humpy at 5:41 PM on October 22, 2010

Also, it occurs to me, opening the attachment from the original email and saving it again - I do hope you haven't overwritten your changes with a lovely fresh copy of the document :-(
posted by humpy at 5:44 PM on October 22, 2010

can you do a FIND/search by the date modified? sorry, i'm a mac user, don't know if this is possible, but that's how i find stuff sometimes. do a search for everything modified TODAY and see what you get.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 5:46 PM on October 22, 2010

Assuming Outlook, I'd first identify the folder where it opens e-mail attachments to. SOme instruction here but Googling will turn up more info. If you were using another e-mail program or webmail, same idea.

You can also try running Recuva to search for the file if it was being saved to a tmp file which was then automagically deleted when you were done with it, since it was being managed by your e-mail program as a temporary file.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 5:46 PM on October 22, 2010

Try digging around C:\Users\(your name)\AppData\Roaming ?
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 5:52 PM on October 22, 2010

Also, try going to Word Options (in MS word, it's a small text button under the big round button thing.. haha I really don't know what to call these things), go to the Save tab, and it'll show you default save location and AutoRecover location.

I'm thinking this might be more an Outlook thing, because it's that that downloaded it and saved it something. So try looking for that in the AppData\Roaming folder. Also try AppData\Local.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 5:58 PM on October 22, 2010

I officially hate windows 7. Or, probably more specifically, I hate change.

My secretary rescued two hard copy documents that will let me recreate the document, so my whole weekend won't be a disaster, but I still have no idea where those files are going.
posted by dpx.mfx at 5:59 PM on October 22, 2010

Maybe I'm missing something, but I think you can email yourself a document, open and save it, then check its document properties to see where it's been saved.
posted by stefanie at 6:35 PM on October 22, 2010

On my Windows 7, Office 2010 machine, the temp files from Outlook attachments are here:
C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Outlook
With the YOURUSERNAME bit replaced with your user name...
Inside the Content.Outlook folder were two other folders. One was older (probably my Outlook 2007 temp files) and one was newer, holding all my recent Outlook 2010 attachments.
I'd check there. AppData is also a hidden folder, I believe. Try navigating to C:\Users and open you user name folder. Then, in the address bar for the Windows Explorer window, type, paste in the rest of the folder path.
posted by hilaryjade at 6:57 PM on October 22, 2010

Oh, sorry, one more thing. To show your hidden files / folders in Windows 7, with Windows Explorer open, click the Organize button (upper left) and select Folder and search options. Under the View tab, you can find an option for showing hidden folders.

Alternately, under the Start menu search box, type "hidden folders" and the first thing that shows up is the link to the View tab for Folder options.
posted by hilaryjade at 7:01 PM on October 22, 2010

I lost a document this way a few weeks ago. We tried everything above, finally gave up and redid it all. I hate Outlook.
posted by SMPA at 7:06 PM on October 22, 2010

You can look in the registry to find the exact location of the Outlook Secure Temp Folder.

Click on the Windows Icon/Start Menu and Search for "regedit". Once it has been found, launch that application.

***Do not delete or change anything in here. Only look.***

Expand the folders down this path on the left side:


When you click on the Security folder, a list of items will show up on the right.

Double-Click on the one that says OutlookSecureTempFolder. Copy the value field to your clipboard. Click Cancel.

Paste this into the address field in Explorer and it should open the cache. You should hopefully be able to find your missing file there.
posted by Nerro at 7:29 PM on October 22, 2010

I have no idea how search works on Windows 7, but the program Everything does work on it, and it's what I use to search for files in XP (so I don't have to be organized and make folders whose names I'll remember). When I'm in Everything, typing .tmp brings up all the many many many .tmp folders Outlook 2007 creates. You could then sort by date to figure out which one applies to your document. I've had to do this numerous times when forgetting to "Save As" rather than "Save" when someone sends me a spreadsheet.
posted by mittens at 7:36 PM on October 22, 2010

windows 7 has jump lists. when word is open, try right clicking on it in the task bar and see if it's in that list. it should be under recent, if there are files you opened more recently you can right click and remove them from that list and see older files.
posted by pyro979 at 7:42 PM on October 22, 2010

At my work we ended up putting a note on user's login screens because this was such a common problem. Where people logged out and temp folders cleared, not much hope. However if this is your own machine, try "search everything" (google) - a freeware tool and search for parts of the filename.
posted by yoHighness at 8:10 AM on October 23, 2010

+1 for "Everything" (a searching tool that is free and extremely fast) is available from www.voidtools.com.

Look in the forums and get the latest copy, version 451 I think.
posted by flutable at 5:00 AM on October 25, 2010

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