I am a college student who just spent 2 days making an extremely in depth study guide for a final exam, and just like everyone else on this page, my word crashed making me lose everything! I looked everywhere online and have FINALLY found the answer to retrieving your lost document EVEN if AutoRecovery did not save it. This is free with no external software needed, you just need to follow these quick couple steps.
So If you did as everyone else said and found the folder "Office 2008/09/11 AutoRecovery" and your file is still NOT there, that means it is being stored in your computers Temporary or "-Tmp-" folder.
The "-Tmp-" folder is very hard to find, even if you have made hidden folders visible, so what you need to do is go to "Applications"- "Utilities"- "Terminal"
Once you are in the terminal copy this phrase: "open $TMPDIR" and press ENTER. That will open your Temporary files folder where you will see another folder named "Temporaryitems"
Open up the "Temporaryitems" folder and you will find your lost file, that even AutoRecovery could not find. However when you do find your file, make sure you open up the document with "TextEdit" because a .tmp file will not work with Word.
An example name of your lost document will be "WordWorkfile D-57238.tmp"
I spent hours on the internet looking for a solution and this is the only way I have actually been able to find the lost or unsaved file. I hope this helps and I can save everyone some extra hours of time.