6 Ways to Recover Unsaved or Lost Word Document on Mac 2020

2020-05-21 21:09:43 / Posted by Rosa Reyes to Recover Follow @ Rosa

I had a Mac running the latest version of macOS High Sierra and was working on my dissertation in Word, pressing “Save” button regularly. Suddenly, A message came up saying Word had to quit unexpectedly. When I open the word document again, some contents were unsaved. Please tell me how I can recover unsaved word document on Mac.
I have a very important Word 2016 file that has been deleted. I cannot find them where I had saved it as well as in the Trash bin. The word document might have been permanently deleted. Is there any way to salvage this file?

If you are in similar situations, we have the solutions for you. 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, or restore lost even retrieve a previous version of Word document on mac in Microsoft Office 2011, 2016 or Office 2019.

How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac (Office 2011 & 2016 & 2019)

When working on a Word document on mac, a sudden system/program crash or power-off will leave you no time to save the word file, which may bring a nightmare to make your hours of efforts to be nothing. Didn't save Word document? Yet, even this happened, it is still possible to recover a word document that was not saved on mac, and this can be quite easy especially with auto-recovery word mac. Besides the solution of auto recovery Word on mac, there are also 2 alternatives to recover a Word document that wasn’t saved on Mac.

#Method 1. AutoRecover Word on Mac

What is AutoRecover Word on Mac?

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 AutoRecover is ON, so we can choose an appropriate method to recover unsaved Word document on Mac successfully. Also, you can configure the settings as following to save every 5 minutes or shorter interval.

  1. Go to Word menu>Preferences.word preferences
  2. Choose Output and Sharing>Save.output and sharing
  3. Make sure the box before “Save AutoRecover info” is checked and you can tweak the parameter in “Save every XXX minutes”.

Since the AutoRecover is ON by default, you can use this feature to recover the unsaved Word documents on mac now.

How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac with AutoRecover?

Step 1Find the AutoRecover Location on Mac.

For different versions of word document, the AutoRecover files are saved at different places, you can refer to following to find where the AutoRecover files are saved:

For Office Word 2016/2019:


For Office Word 2011:

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

tips: For users who cannot find the Library folder, open Finder, press Shift+Command+H to go to Home, right click on “Users” and choose “Show View Options”, then check the box before “Show Library Folder”.

Step 2Go 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

Step 3Open the AutoRecover word document with Office Word on Mac, then save the file.


#Method 2. Recover unsaved word document on Mac from Temporary Folder

If you can’t recover unsaved word document via AutoSave, then you’d better check your Temporary folder. 

Steps to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac from Temp Folder

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

Though those non-text contents cannot be displayed in TextEdit, your newly added text will be saved.


#Method 3. Open a Word Document to Recover Unsaved Word on Mac

If you have turned the AutoRecover feature ON, there is a quite 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.

In this case, no matter you can find the unsaved file or not, can remember the file name or not, you just need to 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.

In this case, don’t be panic. 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. But before saving your Word documents on mac, you are recommended to wait patiently until all the programs that run automatically when the Mac is ON have completed the start, since they will require a large RAM and may slow down the Word processing, even may bring risks of Office Word crash when lots of programs are running behind simultaneously.


YouTube Video Tutorial to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac

In this video, you will learn how to recover an unsaved word document on mac using AutoRecover and Temporary folder.


What if AutoRecover Doesn’t Work?

However, even if you have tried all these methods to recover an unsaved word document on mac, nothing happened and you cannot even figure out why you just don’t have the luck to get it back.

There are so many reasons lead to such a recovery failure, your mac settings, your way using Office Word, etc. But does that mean you will have no way to recover the unsaved Word document? No, you can still try a piece of data recovery software to find out the word document smartly and retrieve it from those hidden word documents. In addition, those data recovery programs basically come with a free trial, it cost you nothing, why not have a go? So, keep reading the following part to find back you unsaved word document.


How to Recover Lost or Deleted Word Documents on Mac 2020 (3 Ways)

There are some times we just lost or accidentally deleted a Word document, here we recommend 3 ways to recover lost or deleted word documents on mac.

#Way 1. Best Way to Recover Lost or Deleted Word Document on Mac 2020

There may be multiple ways to recover a deleted or lost word document on mac, but the best way to do a Word recovery with high success rate is using a professional data recovery software. To make things easier, here I will recommend you the best word document recovery tool for Mac– Cisdem Data Recovery

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

  • 5 recovery mode to deal with different data loss;
  • Support all kinds of internal or external storage devices;
  • Recover more than 200 types of files;
  • Preview files before recovery;
  • Fast scanning and recovery;
  • Recover files in a high success rate;
  • Compatible on macOS 10.15 Catalina and earlier;

Follow these steps to recover word document on Mac.

Step 1Free download the Cisdem Data Recovery below.

Free Trial

Step 2Open the word document recovery tool to choose a recovery mode.

To recover word documents on Mac, choose among the 5 data recovery solutions. If you are not sure which one to choose. You can choose Basic Data Recovery or Advanced Data Recovery. The latter is recommended, but it will take a bit more time than the former. 

Step 3Choose the disk where the word document was stored and start scanning.

In addition to the internal hard drive on Mac, the data recovery also recovers data from external hard drive and other storage media like SD cards and USB drive, you only need to insert it on your Mac. Click the scan button. 

Step 4Preview and recover word documents on Mac.

Select the word documents you want to recover, preview before recovery. If it is the one you want to recover, hit "Recover" button to recover the word document to your mac.

YouTube Tutorial Video to Recover Word Document on Mac


#Way 2. Recover Lost or Deleted 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”;trash bin
  3. Right click on the Word file, choose “Put Back”, then the word document will appear in the popped folder;


#Way 3. Recover Lost 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 Google Drive, iCloud, OneDrive, Dropbox, the steps to recover Word documents from these backups are quite easy and similar. Here we take iCloud and Google Drive to demonstrate how to do the online Word recovery.

Via iCloud

  1. Go to iCloud website or app, login into your iCloud account;
  2. Go to Settings>Advanced>Restore Files;
  3. Choose Word document you want to recover, then click “Restore File” to recover.

Via Google Drive

  1. Go to Google website or app, login into your Google account;
  2. Go to Trash, find the deleted Word document;
  3. Right click on the deleted Word document, select “Restore” to recover the deleted Word document on mac.


How to Recover Previous Version of Word Document on Mac (Office 2011 & 2016 & 2019)

We all know that Mac Preview builds in the feature allowing users to revert to previous versions, but unfortunately, Office Word on Mac is not able to do so.

According to Microsoft Office, “Version history in Office only works for files stored in OneDrive or SharePoint Online”. So, Office itself doesn’t help to recover preview version of Word document on Mac 2011/2016/2019, but we still have some trick 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. 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

Above all are the methods about how to recover word document on Mac. And developing a good habit will help us save much energy. The best methods to protect your files are saving them in time and doing the archive regularly. If you have any data recovery issues, Cisdem Data Recovery is always a good choice to get the issues fixed.

Free Trial

Hot Articles

2 Comments Leave a Reply

  • Nick Bruce

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

    1 years ago REPLY
  • Shawn Thomas

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

    3 years ago REPLY