Nothing is worse than working on a Word document for hours and saving it often, only to have it get corrupted. When you see the words “Word made a mistake while trying to open your file,” you know things are going to go wrong. Or is it? Can a corrupted Word document be fixed? Is it all gone for good? In that order, yes and no. A corrupt Word document can be fixed, and this tutorial will show you how.
Whether it’s a thesis you worked on for months or a list of things you want to do in the next five years, losing access to a file you made is one of the worst things that can happen in computing. By the time you finish reading this page, you should know several good ways to fix a broken Word document.
Make a copy of the file before you try any of these fixes. Even though the file isn’t working, it might be usable in the end, so we don’t want to make it worse by trying to fix it. All of the following should be tried on the copy, not the original.
Restore a damaged Word file
There are a lot of different reasons, but the end result is the same. A Word file that can’t be opened in the usual way. Inside the error syntax, Word gives you two options: Open and Repair or Text Recovery.
Open and Repair has both good and bad effects. It works sometimes and doesn’t work other times. Open a new Word file to get to the tools. Click File and then Open. At the bottom, click Recover Unsaved Documents. Instead of choosing Open, choose the radio button next to it, then choose Open and Repair. Word will fix it itself if it can.
Text Recovery can be accessed from the same dialogue box and may or may not help.
Using a different Word file
Microsoft gives us a few tools that we can use to get the text back from a file that has been damaged. This is a quick and easy way to do it on a Windows PC or a Mac. You can add the damaged file to a new Word document.
- Open up Word and make a new file.
- At the top, click “Insert.” Then click on “Object.”
- Click ‘From File’ at the bottom.
- Locate and select the corrupted file.
- The text from the corrupted document should appear in the new blank document.
This is a quick and easy way to get the text back from a Word file that has been damaged. But if this doesn’t work for you, there are other ways to do it below.
There are other ways to fix a bad Word document
If the tools for fixing things inside the computer don’t work, we have other options. We can use Windows Restore, File History, or Previous documents. You can also try a couple of other tools.
Word Documents that came before
First, check to see if Word has saved an earlier version. Go to File, then Managed Documents, and pick a version from before. If you closed Word or turned off your computer, you might not be able to use this option.
History of Files
Depending on what kind of operating system you have, your files may be backed up automatically. If you use Windows 10, some of your files are automatically backed up by File History. If you don’t save your work on your C: drive, you have to set up File History, but it can work if you do.
- Right-click on the broken Word document.
- Choose to Bring Back Previous Versions.
- Wait for the pop-up window to show any older versions of the document, and then choose one of them.
- To open it, click OK.
Try a Word version from before or after
Try it on a newer version of Word if you are using an older one. Handling errors has been constantly updated, so a new version of Word may be able to open or recover the file. If you can’t get another version, you can use the Word viewer at Outlook.com. It might at least be able to read the file, which would let you copy and paste the text to another place.
Try out Google Docs
You could try to open the.doc file by uploading it to Google Docs and then opening it there. The two office suites do get along pretty well. Google Docs might be able to see the mistake even though Word can’t. Then you can make a Doc, save it, and use its contents to make a new Word file.
Use “Restore” in Windows
Whether or not Windows Restore works depends on where you save your files. Windows Restore might be able to help if you save them in the default Documents folder. If you save them somewhere else that Windows Restore can access, it might still be able to help.
- Type “restore” into the search box in Windows and then choose “Windows Restore.”
- If you have more than one option, choose the one that is closest to the corrupted file.
- Choose Next, then Restore.
If you use Office for Mac, you could try Time Machine to do the same thing.