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MS Word Autosave/Autorecover Saves My Bacon, Gets My Kudos

As a writer, I spend what time I’m not reading and researching various technical subject matters writing about those same things. My tool of choice (or mandate, for most of the publishers for whom I work) is Microsoft Word. My current version of Word comes from MS Office Professional Plus 2010 and is designated Version: 14.0.6129.5000 (64-bit) in the Help/About display. A couple of days ago I was working on a story for Tom’s IT Pro and had put about 6 hours’ worth of work in without saving the file. Through some crazy accidental combination of right-hand keystrokes (I still can’t reconstruct exactly what they were) I got shown a Word Window with a single character at the lower right-hand side of the screen, and the rest of the page blank. This caused me to think I’d opened a new window by mistake, so I closed it. When I got a save dialog, I declined to save, thinking I would find my open work window underneath. Alas, I was sadly mistaken and quickly realized I’d saved nothing of my previous work.

The file menu provides several methods to recover unsaved documents.

The file menu provides several methods to recover unsaved documents.

Rather than give up and start over, I started poking into the Word Autosave and Autorecover features. By clicking File, then Recent, then clicking Recover Unsaved Files, I was able to find and restore my work file as of the most recent Autosave (which is set by default in Word 2010 at ten-minute intervals, so you never lose more than 10 minutes’ work — a much more palatable concept than losing 6 hours’ worth). Although I had never before been forced to learn this recovery technique, because it saved me more than half a day of what would otherwise have been wasted work, I’m delighted to share this tip with you, in case you too were unaware of its presence and capabilities.

Though the old saying is “If you build idiot-proof systems, only idiots will use them” I’m very glad that Microsoft took the steps necessary to protect me from my own idiocy in this particular case.

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