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How Can You Recover Unsaved and Deleted Word Files on Mac

How to Recover Unsaved or Deleted Microsoft Word Files on Mac

Microsoft Word is one of the most popular word processing programs in the market. It offers its users various features hence why it's so popular. As the name suggests, it belongs to tech giant Microsoft. The software is so convenient that many Apple users use it as well despite having a similar app already integrated into macOS.

Word has a great feature called Autosave. When enabled, it automatically saves your document while you word after a set time. By default, it's usually every 10 minutes.

How Can You Recover Unsaved and Deleted Word Files on Mac

So, if you're working on an important document and suddenly Word crashes or something happens to your Mac, and it shuts down, you'll be able to recover it due to the AutoRecovery feature. But it would be best if you didn't use AutoSave instead of actually saving your document. The feature works only if any interruption occurs.

With the help of AutoRecovery, you can also sometimes recover your file if you accidentally deleted it.

There are few ways you can recover an unsaved or deleted document. The first one is very simple. When you can't find your document anywhere, look in the Trash. If you accidentally deleted it, there's a big chance it's lurking in your Mac's Trash.

As previously mentioned, the second one is AutoRecovery. If you've enabled AutoSave, you should find your document AutoRecovery file in its folder. You can also look in the Temporary file folder.

And the fourth option is to go through your Time Machine backup. To do that, your Mac had to be plugged into an external drive and backed up your Mac when you were working on the document.

Read the methods below to find out how to recover your file step-by-step and manage AuroRecovery settings.

Table of Contents:

Recover Your Word Document From Trash

If your document disappeared, the first place to check for it is the Trash. Sometimes, you can't find your file is because you accidentally deleted it. If that's the case, you should see it in the Trash.

To recover the Word file from the Trash, follow the steps below:

1. Click on the Trash icon located in the dock's right corner.
2. When the Trash window opens, you will see its content. Look for your lost document.
3. If you find it in the Trash, right-click on it and then click on "Put Back" to return it to its previous place.

Restore document from Trash

If you don't see your Word document, proceed to the next step.

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Recover Your Word Document From The AutoRecovery Folder

What's great about Microsoft Word is that it automatically saves your document every ten minutes. But it only does that if you've saved it somewhere. Make sure AutoRecovery is enabled.

To enable AutoRecovery, follow the steps below:

1. Open your Word document.
2. Click on "AutoSave", located in the Word's window top menu bar.
3. To enable AutoSave, choose where you want to upload it and click on "Upload".

If your Mac or Word unexpectedly shut down when you open the document again, you should be prompted with the document's recovery file.

To recover the Word file from the AutoRecovery folder, follow the steps below:

1. Launch Finder.
2. From the menu bar, click on "Go".
3. Then, select "Go to Folder".
4. In the path bar, enter: /Users/username/Library/Containers/Microsoft Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery
Change username to your Mac's username.

Go to AutoRecovery folder

5. You'll see all your recovery files. Double-click on the file you need and open it.

If you can't find the AutoRecovery files, you can check their location.

To check recovery file location, follow the steps below:

1. Launch Word.
2. From the menu bar, click on "Word" and go to "Preferences".

Go to Word Preferences

3. Then, under "Personal Settings," click on "File Locations".

Go to File Locations

4. Next to "AutoRecover files", you'll see a path to their location.

View AutoRecovery file location

5. If you don't see the full path, select "AutoRecover files" and click on "Modify". You'll see the full path.

If the AutoRecovery folder doesn't contain your document, look for it in the Temporary Folder.

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Recover Your Word Document From The Temporary Folder

There's a chance your lost Word document is in the Temporary Folder. The fastest way to open it is using Terminal.

To recover the Word file from the temporary folder, follow the steps below:

1. Open Terminal. You can do that by using Spotlight, Launchpad, or from the menu bar clicking on "Go" and going to "Utilities".
2. In the Terminal window, enter: open $TMPDIR

Open TemporaryItems folder using Terminal

3. When a window appears, search for the "Temporaryitems" folder. Your document might be inside.

Open TemporaryItems folder

If not, proceed to the following method.

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Recover Your Word Document Using Time Machine

If you've connected an external disk to back up your Mac using a Time Machine, you can go back "in time" and look for your lost document.

To recover the Word file using Time Machine, follow the steps below:

1. Launch the Time Machine.
2. Search through the timeline to find the Word document you forgot to save.
3. When you locate the file, select the Word document and click on "Restore".

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See Older Versions of Your Word Document

Microsoft Word saves older file versions, so if needed, you can go back.

To view Word document older versions, follow the steps below:

1. Open your Word file.
2. From the menu bar, go to "File" and click on "Browse Version History".

Browser file version history

3. A sidebar on the right side of the Word window will appear. There you'll see all backed-up versions of your document. Click on "Open Version" to view its content.

View file older versions

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Recover Text From Your Damaged Word File

If your document doesn't open for some reason, you can recover its content.

To recover text from a damaged Word file, follow the steps below:

1. Launch Word.
2. From the menu bar, go to "Word" and click on "Preferences".

Go to Word preferences

3. In the "Authoring and Proofing Tools" section, click on "General".

Go to General settings

4. Check the box next to "Confirm file format conversion at Open" and close the window.

Confirm file format conversion

5. Then, go to "File" and click on "Open".

Go to File and click on Open

6. Click on "On My Mac" and locate the corrupted file.
7. Select it and expand the drop-down menu next to "Open".
8. Click on "Recover Text" and then on "Open".

Select Recover Text

9. Click on "Yes" to open the document.

Open text recovery file

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Manage AutoRecovery Settings

You can choose where you want the AutoRecovery files to be saved and how frequently you want them saved.

To choose AutoRecovery location, follow the steps below:

1. Launch Word.
2. From the menu bar, click on "Word" and go to "Preferences".

Go to Word preferences

3. Go to "File Locations" located in the "Personal Settings" section.

Go to File Locations

4. Select "AutoRecover files" and click on "Modify".
5. Choose a location where you want your AutoRecovery files saved and click on "Open".

Choose autorecovery file location

To choose AutoSave frequency, follow the steps below:

1. Launch Word.
2. From the menu bar, click on "Word" and go to "Preferences".

Go to Word preferences

3. Click on "Save" located under "Output and Sharing".

Go to Save

4. Under "Save AutoRecover" info, next to "Save every", choose how frequently you want your file to be AutoSaved.

Choose Autosave frequency

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We hope these methods helped you recover your lost Word document.

You can also check the video below.

Video on How to Recover Unsaved or Deleted Microsoft Word Files on Mac

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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