10 Ways to Recover Unsaved, Deleted or Lost Word Document on Mac

Connie Wisley
August 14, 2023 Preview 66.1K Preview 3
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When working with files on a Mac, nothing can be as disastrous as leaving a Word document unsaved or deleting Word documents by mistake, especially after several hours' or even days' work on it. Though Microsoft Office Word app offers AutoRecover feature to restore a Word document that was not saved on a Mac, it may not be enabled or fail to recover sometimes. 

In this article, we will introduce all the fixes on Mac word document recovery, no matter you want to recover unsaved Word document on Mac with or without AutoRecovery, or restore deleted/lost even retrieve a previous version of Word document on Mac.


How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac?

In this part, we will show you 5 solutions for unsaved word document recovery on Mac, without or without using AutoRecovery.

#1. How to Easily Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac Without AutoRecovery?

If you haven’t enabled AutoRecovery, or you want a recovery solution with higher recovery rate, you can use dedicated Mac Word data recovery software. To make things easier, here we will recommend you the best Word document recovery tool for Mac – Cisdem Data Recovery

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac is designed to safely get all your deleted, lost, formatted even unsaved Word documents and other files like photos, videos, audios, archives back from your Mac hard drive and other storage devices.

  • Deal with different data loss situations: deletion, formatting, system crash, virus attack, etc.
  • Support all kinds of internal or external storage devices
  • Recover more than 200 types of files
  • Repair damaged Word, Excel, PPT, video and image files
  • Preview files before recovery
  • Filter files to find lost document quickly
  • Recover files to local drive or Cloud
  • Recover files in a high success rate
  • Compatible on macOS Sonoma, Ventura and eariler, M1/M2/T2 support

How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac without AutoRecovery?

  1. Free download Cisdem Data Recovery below.
    Free Download macOS 10.9 or later
  2. Open the unsaved Word document recovery tool for Mac and go to Hardware Disk, choose the hard drive where you lost the Word documents.recover word mac cisdem
  3. Click on Search for lost files button, you can use the filter to find your files during or after the scanning. Go to Unsaved Documents folder to find your unsaved Word files, or go to Documents > Doc or Docx folder to locate the unsaved, deleted or lost Word documents.recover word cisdem 02
  4. Double click on the Word file to preview it, or open with TextEdit, if you cannot preview a file, the file may be damaged, you can Repair it.recover unsaved word cisdem 02
  5. Select the Word documents that not saved, hit "Recover" button to recover them to your Mac or Cloud.recover word cisdem 03

YouTube Tutorial Video to Recover Word Document on Mac

#2. How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac with AutoRecovery

AutoRecover is a feature of Microsoft Word series helping users to save the files automatically when working (editing or modifying) on a Word document. By default, Microsoft Word automatically saves the files every 10 minutes. Here, we need to make sure if the AutoRecovery is ON.

How to Check if AutoRecovery is Enabled?

  1. Open Word for Mac.
  2. Go to Word menu > AutoSave and check if it is ON or OFF. If it is OFF, turn it ON.word autorecover

How to Turn on AutoRecovery in Word Mac?

  1. Toggle on the AutoSave button.
  2. You’ll be required to upload the word document onto OneDrive. Click Save.turn on autorecovery 01
  3. Grant the access of Microsoft Word to your OneDrive folder.turn on autorecovery 02
  4. Now you’ve got the AutoRecovery turned on.turn on autorecovery 03

Where is the AutoRecovery File Location in Word for Mac?

For Office Word 2016/2019/2021/Office 365


For Office Word 2011:

/Users//Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Office 2011 AutoRecovery

How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac with AutoRecovery?

  1. Go to Finder, find the unsaved files in the above-mentioned AutoRecover location.
    Or Go to Finder > Go to Folder, input the AutoRecover location to find the files.autosave location
  2. Open the AutoRecover word document with Office Word on Mac, then save the file.

#3. Try to Open An Unsaved Word Document and Recover

If you have turned the AutoRecover feature ON, there is an extra simple but easily over-looked method to recover the Word document that wasn’t saved due to force quit or power off on Mac---to open a Word document.

Situation 1: The unsaved Word document is caused by force quit, program or system crash, but the Mac is not powered off.

Solution 1: Open any one of your Word documents, then the Office Word will be launched, and all the previously opened Word documents will be opened. Find the Word document, go to File > Save.

Situation 2: The unsaved Word document is caused by sudden power off.

Solution 2: Restart your Mac immediately, once you see the desktop, you will find all the Word documents left unsaved are opened. Then, go to File > Save and make your Word documents saved. 

#4. Recover Unsaved Word Docs from the Mac Temporary Folder

If you haven’t enabled AutoRecover, or you have tried AutoRecover but it didn’t work, you can launch Terminal on Mac to restore unsaved Word document on Mac after crash, to find and restore unsaved Word docs from Temporary Folder.

  1. Open Terminal by going to Finder > Application > Terminal.open terminal
  2. Enter "open $TMPDIR" in the window and press "Enter".
  3. Open the "Temporaryitems".
  4. Open the ~Word Word files with TextEdit application, then copy and paste the text to Office Word.

#5. Recover Word Document Saved over Mac from Recovered Items Folder

It’s possible for Mac to move the temporary files to Trash bin after rebooting. Thus you can try to restore a Word document not saved on Mac from the Recovered items folder in Trash bin.

  1. Enter the Trash bin on your Mac Dock.
  2. If Recovered items folder is present, double-click it to find the unsaved Word file and achieve the Word document recovery.recovered items folder

How to Recover Deleted or Lost Word Document on Mac

There are some times we just lost or accidentally deleted a Word document, here we recommend 2 ways to recover lost or deleted Word documents on Mac.

#1. Recover Deleted or Lost Word Documents in Mac Trash

When the Word document is lost or deleted, the first thing you should do is to check the Trash bin. Since, all the removed items are transferred to Trash bin by default on Mac. Here are the steps to recover from Mac Trash.

  1. Go to Trash bin.
  2. Click on the "change the item arrangement" to fast find the deleted Word document by "Added Date" or "Kind".
  3. Right click on the Word file, choose "Put Back", then the Word document will appear in the popped folder.mac find trash

#2. Recover Deleted or Deleted Word Document on Mac from Backup

In fact, if you have a good habit to back up files via online storage services, that would be much easier to get the lost or deleted word document back. Though there are many online storage services, such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, the steps to recover Word documents from these backups are quite easy and similar. And much probably, you may have backed your Word document in OneDrive or iCloud, here we take these 2 tools to demonstrate how to do the online Word document recovery.

Via OneDrive

  1. Go to OneDrive website, login into your Microsoft account.
  2. Go to My Files in the navigation pane, find Word documents that you lost or deleted on your Mac.
  3. Download and save the copy to your Mac.
  4. (Optional) If you cannot find the Word document in My Files folder, go to Recycle bin, select the deleted Word docs and click Restore.recover from onedrive

Via iCloud

  1. Go to iCloud website or app, login into your iCloud account.

  2. Find and click on the Word file you want to restore to your Mac and click the Download icon to move it.

  3. (Optional) If you cannot find the deleted Word document, go to Settings > Advanced > Restore Files, choose Word document you want to recover, then click "Restore File" to recover.icloud restore

How to Recover Previous Version of Word Document on Mac

Here we have 3 tricks to restore a previous version of a Word document on Mac.

#1. Manually Find the Previous Version  

If the Word document is not created by you, go ask for the original Word document from the sender;

If you are the one created the Word document, it is much likely that the current Word document has went through different versions, so track down to see if you have sent out previous version before via emails/iCloud, or deleted in Trash Bin, if yes, get them back and rename it.

#2. Browse Version History

We all know that Mac Preview builds in the feature allowing users to revert to previous versions, likewise, we can also get the similar feature within Word for Mac. But note that Version history in Office only works for files stored in OneDrive or SharePoint Online.

For Office 2016 & 2019 & 2021:

  1. Open the Word file whose previous version you want to restore.
  2. Go to File > Browse Version History.browse version history word
  3. From the list of all previous versions of your current file, choose the one you want and click Restore.

For Office 365 for 2023:

  1. Select and right click the document > choose Version history.browse version history 365 01
  2. Find the version you desire > move to the three-dots icon and click Restore to recover the previous file version.browse version history 365 02

#3. Use Time Machine on Mac

If you have turned the Time Machine ON, your Word documents will be well backed up and you are able to get a previous version of your Word document.

Steps to Recover Previous Version of Word Document on Mac

  • Step 1. Go to Finder > Application and launch Time Machine.
  • Step 2. Open the folder where you store the Word file. Or you can go to Finder > All My Files, then find the Word file by choosing an arrangement type.
  • Step 3. Find the Word document to recover. You can use the timeline on the edge of the screen to check Word documents backup, then select and press Space Bar to preview.
  • Step 4. Click "Restore" to get the previous Word document back on mac.recover via time machine

Final Words

Mac Word AutoRecovery offers the easiest solution to restore unsaved Word document, but if you still cannot get the Word documents back with AutoRecovery, using Cisdem, it can find and restore unsaved, deleted, lost documents fast.

Free Download macOS 10.9 or later

Connie Wisley
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Connie has been writing for Mac productivity and utility apps since 2009. Each review and solution is based on her practical tests, she is aways energetic and trustworthy in this field.

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Comments (3) Leave a Reply

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  • Ashlin Brown

    AutoRecover didn't work. Still I have no backups. Any other possible solutions to recover my deleted word document without the need of third-party tool? Please help.

    0 months ago Reply

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  • Nick Bruce

    So far, the fullest guide to recover a word document, I managed to recover the docx file in my icloud backup. Thanks.

    4 years ago Reply

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  • Shawn Thomas

    Awesome. This really helped me and I appreciate your work. Happy New Year 2018!

    5 years ago Reply

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