6 Ways to Recover Unsaved or Lost Word Document on Mac (without AutoRecovery)

Rosa Reyes
time March 15, 2021 Preview 48.4K
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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’ even days’ work on it. Though Microsoft Office 365, 2019, 2016 and 2011 Mac versions offers AutoRecover feature to restore an unsaved Word document caused by crash, sudden power off or others, the AutoRecovery may not be activated or won't recover, is there any possibility to recover unsaved Microsoft Word documents on Mac without AutoRecovery?

Yes, there are. 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 lost even retrieve a previous version of Word document on mac in Microsoft Office 2011, 2016 , 2019 or Office 365 for 2020 & 2021. 

Part 1. How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac with or without AutoRecovery

Method #1. Unsaved Word Recovery 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 AutoRecover is ON.

How to Check if AutoRecover is Enabled?

  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”.

Where to find AutoRecover Files in Word for Mac?

For Office Word 2016/2019/Office 365 in 2020/2021:


For Office Word 2011:

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

How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac with AutoRecover?

  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.

Method #2. Recover unsaved word document on Mac without AutoRecovery

#Way 1 Unsaved Word Doc Recovery 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

  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.

#Way 2. 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.

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. 

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.

Part 2. How to Recover Lost or Deleted Word Document on Mac 

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 2021

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 11 Big Sur and earlier;

Follow these steps to recover word document on Mac.

  1. Free download the Cisdem Data Recovery below.
    Free Download
  2. Open the word document recovery tool to choose a recovery mode.
    You can choose Basic Data Recovery (Quick) or Advanced Data Recovery (Deep). 
  3. Choose the disk where the word document was lost or deleted and start scanning.
  4. Recover word documents on Mac.
    Select the word documents 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”;
  3. Right click on the Word file, choose “Put Back”, then the word document will appear in the popped folder;mac find trash

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&365)

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/Office 365 in 2020 or 2021, 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

None of data recovery tools help recover unsaved Word document on Mac, but if you still cannot get the Word documents back with AutoRecovery, from Temporary folder or others, you can have a try on the data recovery program, such as Cisdem, it may find and restore different versions of your Word documents on Mac.

Free Download

Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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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.

    2 years ago Reply

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  • Shawn Thomas

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

    4 years ago Reply

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