Fix Excel Document Not Saved Error and Recover Unsaved Excel Files

Last Updated on April 21, 2023 by Ian McEwan

The error message “Document not saved” may appear when you try to save an Excel file. Wondering what are the causes of the problem? How to fix the error and recover the unsaved Excel files? Here are the answers.

Last updated Apr 4th, 2019 by Ian McEwan

“Document not saved” or “Document not completely saved.” Error

Has it ever happened to you that you have been working on an Excel document for hours, then the error message “Document not saved”, or “Document not completely saved.” Or “Document not saved. Any previously saved copy has been deleted” appears when you try to save it. And no matter what you do, the current Excel session just cannot save the document.


It is so frustrating to lose a file on which you have put in a lot of hard work for hours.

Fix Excel Document Not Saved Error and Recover Unsaved Excel Files

What is going on?

The reason why Excel “Document not saved” pops up when saving an Excel is that the Microsoft Excel saving process is interrupted.

Microsoft Excel saving process 123: Every time you work in an Updated Excel file (the previous version was saved), Microsoft Excel will keep a file in the same folder as the original file with a random temporary name. When you save your Excel file, the temp file will be renamed with the original file name and will replace the original file simultaneously.

The interruption of this process will result in a “Document not saved” error and having one or more Excel temporary files in the destination folder where you try to save.

The Excel saving process is interrupted due to:

  • Lack of driver space.
  • The network connection fails while saving to a network drive.
  • Antivirus software conflict.
  • The path of the file is more than 218 characters because of the file name length.
  • Press ESC
  • Software/Hardware failure
  • Media Problem


Fix Excel “Document not saved”, “Document not completely saved.” Or “Document not saved. Any previously saved copy has been deleted” Error

Applies to: Excel 2016, Excel 2013, Excel 2010, Microsoft Office Excel 2007, Microsoft Office Excel 2003, Excel 2019, Excel for Office 365

Here are some possible troubleshooting methods to help you fix the problem.

Method 1: Saving the workbook with a new file name.

Click Save As on the File menu, and save the workbook with a new file name.


Method 2: Save the file as *.htm or *.html or a different Excel file format.

Click Save As on the File menu, and select a file format different from the current one. To make it works, you can select *.htm, *.html, *.xlsx, or *.xlsm.


Method 3: Save the Excel file to a new location, such as Local Disk, OneDrive, or a portable drive.


Method 4: Save the Excel file in safe mode.

Click (Windows 7 / Windows 10 )to learn how to restart Windows in safe mode.


Method 5: Try to move the original worksheets to a new workbook.

  1. Press Shift + F11 to add a new worksheet to the workbook.
  2. Press Shift to select all the worksheets except the new one.
  3. Right-click the selected sheets and click Move or Copy.
  4. Select the (New Book) in the To Book List and Click OK.

Note: All the methods mentioned above are intended to help you obtain a usable, previous version of the file. However, all the latest changes, feature sets, and formatting of the Excel Workbook are unsaved.


How to recover unsaved Excel files?

Although your Excel file crashed or you closed the Excel by mistake without saving the document, there are still some feasible ways to fix this problem and recover the Excel document not saved.


Aiseesoft Data Recovery

Though there are many ways to recover an unsaved Excel file, Aiseesoft Data Recovery is the most reliable one of them. It works every time. Other methods also require some conditions that you should have followed before you lost your Excel file but Aiseesoft Data Recovery is different. It gives you your unsaved Excel file back no matter what. Having Aiseesoft Data Recovery software by the side is the safest option while working on an Excel file so that you never lose your Excel file if Excel stops working unexpectedly.

This software helps you recover unsaved Excel from crashing, corruption, not working, etc. It supports Excel recovery in the Excel editions 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007, and 2003. With the help of Aiseesoft Data Recovery, you can recover not only Excel documents but Word, TXT, RTF, etc too.

    • Download Aiseesoft Data Recovery, install, and run it on your PC. (Note- You can free download it and enjoy a 30-day free trial)
Win Download Mac Download Win Download
  • On the main page, select the “Document” option from the “What type of File you want to recover?” section and select a hard disk drive location where you want the document to be recovered, and then click on “Scan”.
  • Once the Scan is complete, a new interface will appear where you will need to select the “Document” option which will open up a list of folders of deleted documents that you are available for recovery. Choose the “XLS” and “XLSX” folders as they contain all the deleted Excel documents.
  • Select the Excel document file which you want to recover and click “Recover” to save that file on your PC.


Excel AutoRecover

It is an inbuilt feature of Excel. It keeps on saving your progress on a document after a specific time period. But you need to make sure that it is running from the Excel settings.

  • To access the Excel AutoRecover, go to the “File” tab, choose “Options”, then “Save” and it is Excel AutoRecover settings.
  • Configure the settings as per your need. But make sure that you keep the time period short so that you get the latest version of your unsaved document as possible.

Now that you are sure that Excel AutoRecover is working. This is how you can recover an unsaved Excel file that you lost because your Excel crashed or stopped working unexpectedly.

  • Reopen Excel and go to “File”
  • Select “Open” and then “Recent Workbooks”
  • Here you will see a list of recently saved workbooks. Scroll down to the end to find “Recover Unsaved Workbooks” and click on it.
  • A dialog box will pop up with a list of unsaved Excel files. Find the file you need and open it.
  • Now, your file will be opened in Excel and Excel will ask you to Save it. Click “Save as” and save the file in the desired location.


Recover Unsaved Excel Documents from OneDrive

If you use OneDrive for saving your Excel Documents then you can recover an older version of the Excel file from OneDrive. It is very helpful when you are working on an Excel document but realizes that you made a mistake an hour ago. In such a case, you can restore an older version of the Excel document from OneDrive. Just follow the steps given below to save a copy of the desired version of the Excel file on your PC.

  • Visit One Drive and log in to your account.
  • Open the folder where you saved your file to open up the backup options.
  • Now right-click on the file and you see a list of options. Select “Version History” and the file will open in a new tab.
  • Now you will find all the saved versions of your Excel Document. Click on the version you want to restore and download to your computer.

You can also restore the previous versions of your Word, Powerpoint, PDF, etc documents using the same way.


Recover Unsaved Excel Document From Temp File

This method also works on an inbuilt feature of Excel. Whenever you save a file in Excel, it also creates a temporary file in the location that you provided in the “Save as” dialog box. Now, if your Excel stops working midway and got closed abnormally, you can recover your Excel file using this Temporary file.

Here is how you can do it.

  • Click “Start” and Search “CMD” in the search box.
  • “CMD.exe” will be there in the search results. Right-click on it and then click “Run as Administrator”.
  • A box will pop up, fill “%temp%” in the command box.
  • Now you will need to find your Temporary Excel file. It starts with “$” or “~” and ends with “.TMP”. You can also search it by the time you lost the file.
  • Once you find the Temp file for your document, you can change its extension into “xls” or “xlsx” depending upon the version of Excel you use. Now, you have successfully recovered your unsaved Excel document.