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How to Find Lost Excel Files

Method 1: Search Your Computer

1. Recent Places: Check folders you recently used and the “Recent Documents” in File Explorer or Finder.

2. Comprehensive Search: Use your operating system’s search function:

  • Windows: Search for “.xlsx” or “.xls” or the partial filename if you recall it.
  • macOS: Use Spotlight search with similar parameters.

Method 2: Check Excel Settings

AutoRecover:

Go to File –> Options –> Save.

Look at the “AutoRecover file location” path and check that folder.

Enable AutoRecover and set a short interval if it’s not already.

Unsaved Files:

Go to File –> Open –> Recover Unsaved Workbooks at the bottom.

Default Save Location: Check your default save location and search that folder thoroughly.

Method 3: Temporary Files

Windows:

Search for “*.tmp” files or go to the temporary files folder. Type %temp% in the Run dialog box or the search bar.

Look for recent files that might contain your spreadsheet data.

Method 4: Recycle Bin / Trash

Check your Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (macOS) in case you accidentally deleted it.

Method 5: Cloud Backup

OneDrive / Dropbox / Google Drive: If you use cloud services, check for any recent version of your file in the cloud backup, version history or trash.

Tips

Act Quickly: The sooner you start searching, the better the chances of recovery.

Specific Names: Search using specific keywords from the file content if you can remember them.

Prevention

AutoSave: Make sure AutoSave is turned on and set to a short interval (File –> Options –> Save).

Backups: Regularly back up important files to external drives or cloud storage.

Organized Saves: Use descriptive filenames and well organized folders to make files easier to locate.

If You Still Can’t Find It

Data Recovery Software: If the file was deleted and overwritten, specialized data recovery tools will help but success isn’t guaranteed.

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