2019 Update: How to Recover Unsaved or Lost Word Document on Mac

2018-12-29 03:05:12 / 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, including how to recover unsaved word document on Mac, how to recover lost or deleted word documents on Mac, even feasible ways to recover previous version of word document on mac, no matter you are using Microsoft Office 2011, 2016 or Office 2019 for Mac.

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. 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.

Basic Knowledge

Before the detailed tutorial on recover unsaved word document, we highly recommend our users to get to know some required basics about word document recovery on Mac.

Word Document Recovery on Mac for Office 2011, 2016 and 2019

If you are using Word on Mac, you are probably a user of Office 2011 or 2016 or 2019. As we all know, the first mac version of Microsoft Office is Office 2011, though the support ended on Oct 2017, there are still a part of users sticking to this version. Most of mac users have installed Office 2016 and maybe considering to switch to the latest Office 2019.

But no matter which Mac Office version you are using, there is one thing for sure: there is few differences between the methods to recover unsaved word document on mac for Office 2011, 2016 and Office 2019. 

That’s to say, all the following methods are applicable to work on Office 2011, 2016 and Office 2019.

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”.

3 Ways to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac

#1 Open a Word Document

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.


#2 Recover unsaved word document on Mac from AutoRecover

Step 1Find the AutoRecover Location on Mac.

For different Mac system and the different version of word document, the files of AutoRecover are saved at different places, we introduce two common places for you to recover word document on Mac, and you can try both of them.

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.

autosave location

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


#3 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. To find unsaved word document 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.

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.


Recover Lost or Deleted Word Documents on Mac (2 Ways)

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 Lost 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;


#2 Best Way to Recover Lost or Deleted Word Document on Mac

If the Word document is lost or cannot find back from Trash bin, you will have to turn to a data recovery program. In the data recovery software market, there is too much software for you to select. 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 help 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 solutions to meet different scan requirements
  • Four file recovery modes can recover the specific types of files
  • Remaining time help you take control of the word document recovery
  • Preview and choose your target files to recover only

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 five 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 and hit "Recover" button to save them on Mac.

recover deleted word 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.

Trick 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.

Trick 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.

  • 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.

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1 Comments Leave a Reply

  • Shawn Thomas

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

    1 years ago REPLY