Microsoft PowerPoint is software for creating compelling static or dynamic presentations. It lets you add text, images, graphics, videos, and animations onto separate slides, then arrange their order and transition to achieve powerful effects. Although initially limited to Windows and Mac, where this software has the largest number of features and resources to work with, you can also use Microsoft PowerPoint on Android and iOS. Unfortunately, everything is vain when you end up losing the files you worked so hard on. To mitigate the consequences and ideally suffer none, you should learn how to recover a PowerPoint file as soon as possible.
1. Check the Unsaved Presentations folder
You’re nowhere near the first person to lose their PowerPoint file. After years of crashes and data loss, both on the side of employees and regular users, Microsoft implemented a drafting feature. It periodically caches your progress and saves them in the application memory should anything go awry. There’s an equivalent feature named “Unsaved Documents” for Microsoft Word and “Unsaved Workbooks” for Microsoft Excel you may recognize.
With that said, follow these steps to recover a Microsoft PowerPoint file from Unsaved Presentations:
- Launch Microsoft PowerPoint.
Note. This should work for the program that’s part of Office 2013 and later versions.
- Click on File in the main menu.
- Select Open in the left sidebar then go to Recent located next to it.
- Browse the list of the recent presentations you worked on.
- If it isn’t there, scroll below “Available Files” and click the Recover Unsaved Presentations button.
- An “Open” pop-up window will open, letting you select one or more files.
Tip. Files may have a title you used or be named randomly, such as “((Unsaved-3026899905018))”. If there are multiple files, make a copy of each. That way, you can launch them separately and have a backup if step 7 doesn’t work.
- Select a draft file and click on Open.
Unless it got corrupted, your presentation should open and load data from the last save point. Save it in a new location.
The option is missing, what do I do?
If you followed the instructions yet found no file, try other methods. However, if you failed to find the exact steps, you may be using an older version of Office and thus PowerPoint. You can achieve the same result on Office 2010 package following the first two steps, then instead of “Recent”, select Manage versions. Click on Recover Unsaved Presentations (may also be titled Recover Unsaved Documents), and the “Open” pop-up window from step 6 will appear.
2. Recover a PowerPoint file using AutoRecover
Document Recovery, also called AutoRecover and AutoSave, is another precaution PowerPoint takes to prevent the loss of files. Here’s the catch, though — it may or may not be enabled in your program. A silver lining is that it always stores files in the same location, so you don’t have to look long and hard. With that said, PowerPoint file restoration via AutoRecover looks like this:
- Open File Explorer.
- Check both of these locations on Windows 7, 8, and 10:
- [main drive letter]:\Users\[account username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office\UnsavedFiles
- [main drive letter]:\Users\[account username]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\PowerPoint\
- Replace the two things in brackets with the actual drive letter and your Windows username. Press Enter.
- If you can’t see any files, make sure they aren’t hidden on Windows 10:
- Click on View in File Explorer.
- Go to Options, then Change folder and search options.
- Switch to the View tab, then Show hidden files, folders, and drives under “Advanced settings”.
- Click OK to confirm.
- We presume files are now visible. There are 2 problems you’ll face:
- If there are multiple files, you won’t know which to open.
- All files follow the same naming rules and look like this: PPT[random string of numbers]. They can have all kinds of extensions such as .ppt, .pptx, .pcb, etc. For instance, PPT1256.ppt.
- The best way forward is to copy all PowerPoint files to a safe location, then go through the copies one by one.
Start using AutoRecovery (Strongly recommended)
The steps above work when AutoRecovery is enabled. While they can’t do much otherwise, we suggest enabling AutoRecovery to prevent future data loss. To do so, follow the steps detailed under the headline titled “how to enable AutoRecover” in our guide for Excel file recovery. Obviously, do that inside Microsoft PowerPoint. The other data rescue methods are similar, as you can see. After all, they work on identical operating systems and belong to the same program suite.
3. Recover PowerPoint presentation from a temporary file
Like many applications, Microsoft PowerPoint stores temporary files. They’re unreadable for users and hidden, but with some luck, you can restore them to working condition. We already demonstrated how to make them show. As for where to find them, you can use one of the following methods:
- Open Start, start typing “%temp%” without quotations, and click the eponymous folder.
- Open the Run prompt (press Windows key + R) and type the same before clicking OK.
- Launch File Explorer, then enter “C:\Users\[your username]\AppData\Local\Temp” in the address bar without quotations.
Regardless of how you reached the folder, you’ll now see a massive list of temporary files. Narrow down the search by typing this into the search bar:
- *.ppt — searches for all files that have a .ppt file extension, regardless of the name
- *.pptx — same as above, except for .pptx (you can also do this for other PowerPoint file extensions if you’re desperate)
- ppt*.tmp — looks for files with a .tmp file extension and a name that starts with PPT
Try the renaming method
Unless they use a familiar file extension, the files won’t open. A simple solution is to rename them to one of the extensions PowerPoint uses. Make a copy of the original file beforehand. Also, ensure the extensions are visible so that you aren’t editing the name. For example, rename the copy of PPT1256.tmp to PPT1256.ppt.
4. Employ data recovery software
Did you accidentally delete your PowerPoint file and subsequently empty the Recycle Bin? Have you formatted your drive accidentally or encountered a system crash or malware/ransomware attack? If so, data restoration software for Windows or software for data retrieval on Mac can help. This is something we also demonstrated in the Excel file rescue guide we mentioned in method 2. Simply follow the instructions under the headline titled “How to recover an Excel file with data recovery software”.