Recovering lost files you accidentally saved after double-clicking an attachment

Do you ever open an attachment in Outlook, edit it in Word, and then save it to the default temporary location without remembering to save it to your Documents or other folder?

In microsoft.public.word.docmanagement, someone named Eric wrote:

I’ve got Windows XP and I’m using Word 2003 and Outlook 2003. When I receive a Word document as an attachment in Outlook, I ordinarily save it immediately in My Documents or a temp folder before I start to edit it. But occasionally I make a mistake, and edit the attachment directly. (I also have a friend who does the same thing, and sometimes calls me for help.) Obviously I save my file. But then when I close the Outlook message and look for my file, it’s gone. Sometimes I’ve been able to recover it and sometimes not. I think Word, or maybe Outlook, may be saving it in a hidden folder.

The same thing happens to me on occasion. When it does, I double-click a *different* attachment so that it opens using Word, hoping that it will put this attachment in the identical temporary file location. I then choose File-Properties, and copy the Location: in the General tab. The reason I open a different attachment is to minimize the chances that Word will overwrite my saved/edited version.

Even though you can’t change the location there, you can select it and copy it to the clipboard. Click in the Location field, press Ctrl+A to select it, as shown here, then press Ctrl+C to copy it to the clipboard.

I then close the Document Properties box, press Ctrl+O (File Open, in Word), paste the location into the File name field, and press Enter. This takes me to the temp location, where I usually find my saved file. From there, you can open it, save it, copy it, etc.

This sounds complicated… but usually takes only a couple of seconds, and is a lot faster than trying to find the file using Windows Explorer.

The same trick works in Word 2007, as well. Document Properties can be gotten to via Office-Prepare-Properties-Document Properties dropdown arrow-Advanced Properties-General tab. You can also get there from the developer tab. In my own case, I long-ago added the Advanced Document Properties tool to my QAT (Quick Access Toolbar), so I don’t have so many levels to navigate to get to it.

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5 Responses to Recovering lost files you accidentally saved after double-clicking an attachment

  1. clio says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I’m so glad there are people like you out there willing to spend some of your time to help people like me. After spending way too much time trying to figure out how to use my Search program to find my invisible file, I followed your instructions and found my truant document in a jiffy.

  2. Pingback: Finding Hidden Attachments in Vista That You’ve Saved From Messages in Windows Mail (and Other Email Programs) « Figuring Out Windows Vista

  3. carob50 says:

    Many, many thanks! I’ve been plagued with this problem ever since I got this new computer with Vista. You are a lifesaver. I will now be able to make my deadline! So much appreciated.


  4. Gene T says:

    Thanks Herb, this saved a bunch of work we thought was lost!

  5. RMBennett says:

    This was a life saver. I have a habit of downloading previous assignments I have turned in and updating them with new content so I do not have to rebuild the formating. I do this a lot since I have several computers in the house I use. After spending several hours on a paper and saving as I went. Then when I went to upload I realized I had been using the temp location all along. Nothing I did helped until I saw this article. THANKS!

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