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Grace Fleming

I Saved My Paper - Now I Can't Find It Anywhere!

By December 7, 2012

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The Temporary Folder Strikes Again!

Update to this post: Microsoft Word has published excellent advice for finding lost documents here.

The temporary folder is a directory were many computer programs automatically store files that you download, or those that you open from email attachments. It's very likely that this folder has caused more lost homework and more headaches than any other computer feature or component.

The reason this folder is so troublesome is because it stores your downloaded files in a place that is really tough to find again. Here's an example of how the temporary seems to "eat" your homework assignments:

You work for hours on your research paper at school and decide to finish it up at home. Naturally, you email the file to your own account so you can open it from any computer without having to carry around a flash drive. When you get home, you open your paper and give it the finishing touches. You decide to print it out in the morning, so you hit the "save" command, close the word processor, and go to bed.

The next morning your paper is nowhere to be found. You know you saved it, but it doesn't show up in your list of recent work or in any directory. Panic time!

By hitting the "save" command, you have inadvertently saved your work in the temporary folder. To find it again, you have to access the folder again, or find the temporary folder's path--but that's not so easy to do. You can get into the folder by going back to the email and opening the original attachment again. Once your paper pops up on the screen, go to "open" as if you want to open a second file.

Your computer should show you all the files in the folder you're currently working from--and that should be the temporary file. You will find the updated version in the list. If you're using Microsoft Word, both files (original and updated) will be saved with the same name, but they will be numbered. The most recent file will be the updated version. You're saved!


November 30, 2010 at 8:39 pm
(1) Nia says:

Hey is there any other option for this because it didnt work and i lost my 7 pg paper

December 1, 2010 at 6:30 am
(2) Grace says:

Nia, it depends on how you lost your paper. Was it opened from an email attachment at any time? If so, it probably is in the temp file, but that can be really hard to find. It also depends on your word processor. New ones will save a backup copy if your computer crashed. Can you give more details?

January 22, 2011 at 8:32 pm
(3) Nick says:

I have lost a 70,000 word document. I had an editor read and edit my paper. I was on page 82 of 121 manuscript pages when I saved and closed the document. Now I can not find the document. I have the copy from the editor but I spent probably 4 hours yesterday on fixing mistakes he gave me. Please help! I have searched in my temp folder and I have a 2006 IBM T60…microsoft word processor 2007. Thanks!

January 23, 2011 at 10:42 am
(4) Jerry says:

This could depend on your email provider. Different email types can be saved as different types of files and in different locations. If the editor mailed the last version to you, you changed the document, and then you hit ‘save’, the doc may have gone to that same location. Google your email provider name along with “where are my emails saved” and you may be able to locate your doc.

May 5, 2011 at 11:36 pm
(5) Jackson says:

Thank you so much, I would not have found my paper without this. #### Microsoft.

October 2, 2011 at 4:05 am
(6) R.Russell says:

Oh, my goodness, I just spent four hours citing references, not to mention two days worth of work and thought I had lost it all. I did click at the bottom of the “document” search box and found a temp/temp file and there it was. After drying my tears, I made sure to move it to my documents folder and give it a freaking good name. THANK YOU for this article!!

April 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm
(7) Edie says:

what if you didn’t email it to yourself, but the computer still didn’t save it? Is there any way I can get my document back?

April 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm
(8) Gigi says:

Did you check the temp file? Do you have a printed copy? (You could scan that to make a pdf and turn that back into a Word file).

April 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm
(9) homeworktips says:

Was it a Word document? Try these steps:

May 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm
(10) Shawn D says:

Wow, thank you so much you saved me a lot of time, I was working on my essay at school and send it back so I can work on it later that day. I worked on it for 2-3 hours draining as many ideas as I could for the paper. Ended up fleshing it out to 5 pages and I clicked save on my laptop and titled it and everything. Next morning when I try to find the file to proofread it, nowhere to be found. But I found it in the temp folder thanks to this article :)

December 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm
(11) adreanna says:

i opened my doument from my school website and i worked for 3 hours on it, i pressed save and closed it. i cant find it anywhere, i cant work out how to fiind out? please help, its URGENT!!!

December 7, 2012 at 11:04 am
(12) homeworktips says:

It must be in a temporary file. Try opening the document from the site again and see if you get the edited version. Even if you don’t, the new doc should open in your temp file. Go to save -> then look inside the file name that pops up and you may find the edited file.

December 11, 2012 at 10:51 am
(13) matt says:

how do I find a paper that I wrote yesterday??????????

January 3, 2013 at 8:58 am
(14) Dennis says:

If you can’t get a file to open, you need ParetoLogic FileCure. This comprehensive file-problem software identifies the unknown file’s format and helps you get the software you need to open it. Fast and easy to use, you will wonder what you did before you had ParetoLogic FileCure.

January 4, 2013 at 9:21 am
(15) Ned says:

We have this project at school that invovles me using Adobe Illustrator. I emailed it to myself and i tried to open it at home using Adobe Illustrator Cs6 but it cannot open and it keeps on saying unknown format. It is needed by next week on Monday. It is saved at school but I won’t have enough time to work on it as it is the first lesson. Thank you and please help.

January 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm
(16) kelli says:

I opened up my paper to finish it and i saved it when i was done typing it but when i went to attach it to my assignment none of my editing was saved to the original paper. Can i get it back?

January 9, 2013 at 10:27 am
(17) Kelly says:

Here’s what to do. Repeat the mistake… I’m serious. It just happened to me. I couldn’t find the file anywhere searching in the computer and in MS Word. I went back to the email and clicked Open instead of Save As again.
When Word opens, click Save As again and it’ll open up the Temporary Folder where you first saved it. Copy the file you thought you lost and Paste it on your Desktop or wherever you know you can find it.
I hope this helps anyone who might find themselves in my situation. God bless.

January 22, 2013 at 7:15 pm
(18) Peter says:

OMG!!! Guys if you did what i did it’s defo there.. It’s in the temp file.. Like said above i re-downloaded the file from hotmail using firefox (not sure that makes a difference) word opened with the original file, i pressed the save icon and searched the file it was suggesting to save in and hey presto!!!

When i saved it i changed the name and everything and pressed the save icon the closed it, my computer could not find it.. It seems so DUMB but hey i found it…. Thank you SOOO much.. xx

February 3, 2013 at 1:35 am
(19) Unicorn says:

I didnt send it to my email… normally my computer just saves it normally it is reliable…

February 3, 2013 at 10:07 am
(20) Alice says:

HELP PLEASE! when i follow all the steps and go to ‘save as’ the first doc just my documents come up and not temp files! how do you find them?

February 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm
(21) homeworktips says:

Alice, I’m not sure what equipment you’re using. Go to your email and open any attachment. It should open inside your temp file. That is one quick way to find it.

February 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm
(22) Tress says:

I sent my profect on facebook and then I saved it and closed it. Now I can’t find it and I accidentaly klicked on the delete the file because it couldn’t find it… I there still a way to get it back?

March 3, 2013 at 1:13 am
(23) Karen says:

Used your technique again for lost word 2010 document. Worked a treat. Many thanks

March 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm
(24) Bryce says:

The above steps did not work for me. So after about 20 minutes of digging I discoved the method listed below.

For Word 2010 users:

When you open the file you recentlly lost from your email the second time. It will pop up in word. Then simply go to the file tab. On the right hand side there should be a link near the bottom that says ‘open file location’ under the Related Documents heading. When that opens begin to type the title of your work in the top right search bar.

March 18, 2013 at 5:03 am
(25) Nadia says:

You saved my paper Thank you so much!

April 9, 2013 at 11:08 am
(26) Lisa says:

I found the temporary files, but the saved paper is not there… the only version I can find anywhere is the original three pages. Any more tips? Could this be because it’s from yesterday? I feel like it HAS to be somewhere!!

April 21, 2013 at 7:25 pm
(27) Mary says:

I saved it three times IN MY FLASH. Then i made another edit, changed my mind and cancelled. And My doc IS GONE!!! In the Temp folder i find something with the .tmp extention and the date of creation. I believe it’s the mirror of my doc, but I can’t open it. Isn’t there a way? Or do you think I’m wrong and it has nothing to do with my docyment?

April 22, 2013 at 9:47 am
(28) Andrew says:

Thanks a lot. I knew it was somewhere, but not the slightest idea where. Even searching the name of the saved file yields no results.

April 26, 2013 at 11:35 pm
(29) Sylvia says:

nothing worked for me. its not saved anywhere, there is no related documents tab and no temp file anywhere on my computer. I use hotmail and I just saved the file as a draft, then opened it on my computer at home, worked on it and saved it to my computer. Then I tried to email it to someone and it was gone. I was using MS office word 2007. I think ill just rewrite it cause’ it was only 700 pages, but just a warning, it might not work.

April 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm
(30) Liya122 says:

it was helpful. i thought i was gonna die, seriously. its been two weeks since i lost my flash drive. you saved my life. I’m working on nutrition lab report and its like 22 pages.

April 29, 2013 at 4:13 pm
(31) KATIE says:

THANK YOU SO MUUUUUCH!!!!! you saved my life!

May 10, 2013 at 12:58 pm
(32) reg says:

Did all of this and was able to locate the temporary file but none of the edits i had done are there is there any way to get them back>

May 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm
(33) lindsey murphy says:


June 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm
(34) Tracy says:

Thanks a thousand times over. You just saved me hours of work. I found my file by going back to the original blank document and hitting save and it took me to the temp file and I found it perfectly!!!!!

July 26, 2013 at 12:44 am
(35) Jean says:

I’m on an office computer and so some of the settings are not standard. I was working on a Word document that I had saved to my Yahoo email. I “thought” I had saved it to my local hard drive as I was hitting Ctrl S throughout. The system glitched, and my doc was gone. I have searched thorougly and tried all the tricks mentioned, no go. It is not there. The onlything I can loate is a file that is named:
~DF044161A886315C59.TMP I cannot seem to find out how to convert this back to word or open the file, though. Any help?

October 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm
(36) Colleen says:

Oh my gosh! Thank you so very much – you just saved my entire afternoon!

October 7, 2013 at 5:34 am
(37) shanice says:

Hi I edited my documents then afterwards I clicked save as then my pc was trying to act up then I clicked save as again then it asked me if I want to save changes then I clicked ok but just wanted to before I saved my changes does that mean that the document is already been saved for the first time? Thank you

October 11, 2013 at 8:40 am
(38) Peter says:

To find a lost word document that you downloaded and saved, all you need to do is open computer, go to the C: drive, and do a search for the exact name of the file that you downloaded. The search will find all the various places your file is saved on the computer. You need to look for the version that is saved in a ‘Temp’ directory, and then check the time and date it was saved, to make sure it is the file saved the file a few moments ago.
To stop this problem happening, every time you download a word document, before you start to work on it, click ‘save as’ from the menu, and tell it to save it in My Documents. That way you will not lose it.

October 11, 2013 at 11:52 am
(39) Rebecca Lynn says:

I was saving my document every time I finished a paragraph, when I turned on my computer this morning it was gone! I can’t find it anywhere. I have checked the temp file, .asd, *.doc, *.docx….nothing! I have followed all the instructions Microsoft gives and what people mentioned here. My computer waont find anything from yeaterdays date.
I am running window 7 :/

October 16, 2013 at 12:03 am
(40) Taylor says:

You’re a life saver!

October 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm
(41) Kara says:

Thank you SO MUCH for this article, I lost my paper and was already starting to tear up because it’s due tomorrow-I just found it because of your solution. Thank you and thank the LORD.

October 17, 2013 at 12:26 am
(42) nese says:

OMG THANK YOU ALL! I just recovered my paper :”)

October 22, 2013 at 1:16 am
(43) Kim says:

I was working on a poster on a PowerPoint template that my teacher gave me and saved it and closed it. But the next to the document title was (Not Responding) ! But a notice said that it will be saved so I closed it anyway. The next thing I know it’s nowhere to be found and even if I search the date I had modified it, it says that there are no results. Pls help me, I have to hand this piece of homework tomorrow and I can’t possibly type it all over again! Pls help me I’m desperate!!

October 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm
(44) dana says:

Pls help. I have excel spreadsheets. One for each month. I had been copying and pasting from my summary page to each of the months/spreadsheets. All of my months/spreadsheets will print except for January. I can see the data on my computer screen but it won’t print the data. Last week when I was copying and pasting from my summary page, I saw a box pop up on one of my months, it probably was for Jan., and it said something about the cells did not match. Now I wonder if that’s why my Jan. spreadsheet won’t print. Please help. How I can I get the data on January’s spreadsheet print? Thank u.

October 25, 2013 at 9:57 am
(45) homeworktips says:

Hi Dana,
Can you email me with your question so I can ask you to try a few things?

October 30, 2013 at 3:47 pm
(46) John says:

I work for Campus Safety at one of the gatehouses. Last night I was working on a paper and clicked save (not the save as button) after I had finished. However, when I tried to find the finished document to email myself it did not show up. Before I edited my paper, I emailed myself the original document so that I could add to it at work, but the edited doc that I spent hours on never got saved. I tried looking at forums and others tips to finding lost documents through searching in the temporary files, recent documents, and etc. but I cant seem to locate it. Could there be a problem with the save button on the document or is my work hidden somewhere on the laptop?

November 12, 2013 at 6:56 pm
(47) Gaberielle says:

How do i access a file on word if i had done it on a flashdrive? Does it automaticly save anywhere? I know this is for word, but do you have anything I could try?

November 13, 2013 at 3:48 pm
(48) alley says:

at my school, on computers, we login with our own user name, after i did that i finished a paper, ‘saved as’ and loged off. then i loged on a diff computer and the old one was there, not my new one! what do i do?

November 18, 2013 at 3:58 am
(49) Ashley says:

without realising it, I worked on a read only document that was extracted from my flash drive. I saved the document and changed the name slightly. Can it be recovered? The computer said the document was saved. If so, where is it? Certainly not the temp folder because I checked… thoroughly. Please help.

November 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm
(50) lucy says:

thank you very helpful

December 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm
(51) Vlad says:

Thank you so much, it was very helpful !!!

December 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm
(52) sherry says:

I use gmail and I did just what you said but I can’t find the place it saves. according to my browser it saves to my documents. could it have hid the file??? I have 8 pages somewhere I worked, someone edited and we saved numerous times.

December 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm
(53) janice says:

Hi please help. I typed a word doc over a year ago as part of my uni course. Now my uni says i ddnt hand in the work and givn me a fail which i am disputing. Like most issues of this kind i cant find my receit to prove ive handed in the work. Howver i have found said doc on my pc. But only on my pc. How could i get the work copied or sent showing the original date. This is the only proof i can find to say i had done the work.

December 12, 2013 at 3:28 am
(54) college student says:

You are a lifesaver!!!!!!!!!

December 15, 2013 at 5:50 am
(55) Sam says:

Bryce you are a saviour – nothing else worked!

Thank you! You saved me quite a few hours of work.

December 16, 2013 at 12:31 am
(56) Tami says:


i rewrote my essay and it saved as a file, not a doc…… and i couldnt open it! I opened a picture attachment in my email with openoffice (what i used), clicked the open doc icon in the task bar & clicked it & boom!

you just saved me an anxiety attack!!!!

December 18, 2013 at 11:09 pm
(57) Becca says:


February 15, 2014 at 10:58 am
(58) Fariel says:

Thank you homewordtips!!!! you saved me by using the steps giving from microsoft

February 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm
(59) Svetoh says:

I am having the same problem with opening a file from my email, updating it and I thinking I saved it but the next day could not find it. I found the temporary folder with the file but not my updated newer version of that file, it’s the original version I downloaded from my email. How do I find the file I changed.

February 23, 2014 at 1:57 pm
(60) Kathleen O'Hara says:

Found the temporary folder where the original unchanged file downloaded exists. Where is the one I updated?

March 12, 2014 at 5:37 am
(61) Natalie says:

I downloaded a file from dropbox, and it came up in a word2013 doc. as I was making changes, I kept clicking the file icon to save it, when I had finished I pressed the same file icon and closed it, then when I reopened it it had disappeared. I realise I should have used ‘save as’ to save it now.
Where has it gone? Please help! I have checked temporary files and can’t find it there, it isn’t in autosave on word2013

March 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm
(62) homeworktips says:

That should be in your download file. Have you tried that?

March 27, 2014 at 10:47 pm
(63) Stephenie says:

I tried this after searching through my temporary internet files (via control panel) for several hours. However, microsoft word files are apparently not displayed in the temporary files. By downloading a new version of my essay (version 5 at this point) and clicking save as, I was able to find version 1, drag it to my desktop, and then re-save it. Thank god, this post saved my 15 page essay (which I need to graduate next week)

April 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm
(64) Xaveria says:

You just saved my Spanish grade and my entire evening! Brilliant!!!

April 19, 2014 at 8:56 pm
(65) erin says:

I was working on my senior thesis, I saved it as I went and when I went to open it NONE OF THE CHANGES WERE THERE! I searched everywhere, temp, local, doc, please, any help is appreciated.

April 20, 2014 at 12:06 am
(66) Sherie says:

this did not work for me i tried over and over and no luck for finding the version that I needed. It was an email attachment and i looked in the tempoaray files folder and even looked around the time that i saved it but no luck…PLEASE HELP ME!!

May 5, 2014 at 3:27 am
(67) Mackenzy says:

I really need help, just finished my paper and i had thought i saved it went back to open it and it was gone. i had open it from my edu email and hist save tons of times but i tried all the stuff above and i can’t find it. Pleaseeee help me find it!!!

May 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm
(68) Sarah says:

Can I hug you??!! I have lost 3 to 5 papers this way over the last 3 years of my college career and tonight you helped me recover 5 hours worth of work. If I would have found your article a while back I would have been so lucky. All other help I have followed was wrong. I am so blessed tonight, THANK YOU!!

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