Data Recovery

How to Recover Unsaved or Deleted Word Document on Mac

Losing a word document could give you a heart attack. The lost document may be an assignment, a report, or an article that you have been working on for days, weeks, or even months. Sometimes, the Word crashed or your Mac suddenly shuts off, leaving the Word document you are working on unsaved. Or you accidentally saved a Word document on Mac, thus the document is overwritten. Even worse, the lost Word document might have been deleted by mistake.

Whether you need to recover an unsaved or deleted Word document on Mac, this article can give you some hints. Read the methods below to recover Word documents on Mac.

How to Recover Unsaved Word 2022/2019/2017/2016/2011 Documents on Mac

The good news is that by default, Word on Mac enables an autosave feature that automatically saves the document you are working on every 10 minutes in the AutoRecovery folder. It is very likely that you can recover the document that you didn’t save with the autosave files.

Note: The prerequisite for Word AutoRecover to work on Mac is that you have saved the document for at least one time. That is to say, if you just create a Word file, make some edits and then close the file by clicking Don’t Save, there is no available AutoRecover file to recover the unsaved document.

If Word or Mac system crashed

After an application(such as Microsoft Office) crashes or macOS freezes, the next time you open Word, an AutoRecover file will be automatically opened and you can save it and pick up where you left off.

In the ideal world, you should see the unsaved document right after you relaunch Word. However, if things don’t work as expected, you can find Word’s autosave location on Mac and automatically recover the unsaved document.

AutoRecover files in Word 2011 for Mac

To recover unsaved Word documents on Word 2011 on Mac, there are two ways.

1. Open AutoRecover files

Step 1. On Word, click File > AutoRecover.

Step 2. You should be seeing a list of AutoRecover files. According to the saving date, open the unsaved file you are looking for.

2. Locate the AutoRecovery folder on Mac

Step 1. Open Finder.

Step 2. Press the Alt key while clicking Go to reveal the Library folder.

Step 3. Go to the Word autosave location: Library/Application Support/ Microsoft/Office/Office 2011 AutoRecovery.

How to Recover Unsaved, Lost, or Deleted Word Document on Mac 2020

AutoRecover files in Word 2016/2017 for Mac

There are also two methods to recover a Word document that was not saved on Mac for Word 2016, 2017, or newer.

1. Go to the Microsoft User Data folder

Step 1. Close Microsoft Word on Mac.

Step 2. Open Finder > Documents > Microsoft User Data folder.

Step 3. Look through the files that are named “AutoRecovery save of” and find the autosave files you need.

How to Recover Unsaved, Lost, or Deleted Word Document on Mac 2020

If you have a problem opening the AutoRecover Word files, rename the files and add “.doc” to the file extension.

2. Go to the AutoRecovery folder

Step 1. Open Finder. Click Go > Go to folder.

Step 2. Enter the path as follow:


How to Recover Unsaved, Lost, or Deleted Word Document on Mac 2020

If you fail to recover unsaved Word documents with AutoRecover files, you can also check the temporary folder on your Mac, which may contain the files you are looking for.

How to Recover unsaved Word document with Mac Temporary folder

Step 1. Launch Terminal with Spotlight or go to Applications > Utilities.

Step 2. Enter the command line: open $TMPDIR. Hit Enter.

Step 3. The temporary folder will be open. Check if there is a Word document that you didn’t save.

How to Recover Unsaved, Lost, or Deleted Word Document on Mac 2020

Accidentally Saved Over a Word Document on Mac

When you accidentally saved a Word document that you actually need on Mac, you can try to recover the Word document from the AutoRecovery folder. And if it doesn’t work, try to recover the previous version of the document from Time Machine backups on Mac.

Step 1. Open Time Machine with Spotlight.

Step 2. Find the files you want to restore.

Step 3. Click Restore to restore the Word file.

How to Recover Unsaved, Lost, or Deleted Word Document on Mac 2020

How to Recover Lost/Deleted Word Documents on Mac

If you have Word documents that you have deleted mistakenly, Data Recovery can recover the deleted Word documents for you. And sometimes, when you cannot find the unsaved documents from the AutoRecovery folder, you may use the program to see if it can scan out the files that you need.

And after a Word document is deleted or lost, you should run Data Recovery as soon as possible because the deleted document can be covered by new data on your Mac anytime. A rule of thumb for successful data recovery is Act Fast.

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Step 1. Run Data Recovery for Mac.

Step 2. To recover deleted Word documents from the Mac drive, click Documents and select the drive that the deleted Word files were saved. Click Scan.

data recovery

Step 3. The program will begin to scan and find the deleted documents on the drive, which include deleted Word, Excel, PDF, PPT, and more.

Step 4. When the scanning stops, click DOC or DOCX and view if the deleted files you need are found. If not, click Deep Scan to find the deleted files are buried deeper.

scanning the lost data

Step 5. When you see the Word files you want to recover, click Recover.

recover the lost files

Tips: Avoid Data Loss in Word for Mac

Set a shorter AutoRecover interval. By default, Word automatically saves a copy of the Word document you are working on every 10 minutes. You can shorten the interval. On Word, go to Preferences > Output > Sharing > Save > Save every XX minutes. For example, enter 5 to save a Word document every 5 minutes.

Enable AutoSave if you are subscribed to Word for Office 365. With AutoSave enabled, Word saves the changes you made every few seconds so you don’t need to manually click the Save button. Even if Word crashes unexpectedly, most changes on a document are saved automatically.

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