How to Recover Unsaved, Deleted and Overwritten Excel Files on Mac

2018-05-15 22:53:23 / Posted by Rosa Reyes to Recover Follow @ Rosa

How can I recover unsaved Excel files on Mac? Yesterday I added new data to an existing excel document and shut my computer off by accident before saving the file. Is there a way to recover Excel file on Mac? Your help is much appreciated. – George

Assume that you are working on an important excel file for hours and you forget to save the excel file due to unexpectedly quit, system crash, power failure, etc. Then all information you add is missing. It is frustrating and you may want to find a way to recover unsaved Excel file just like George did. So you have come to the right place. By following the guide below, you can easily recover unsaved, deleted and overwritten Excel files on Mac.


To recover unsaved Excel files on Mac, the direct method is to use AutoSave and AutoRecover features that are provided by Microsoft. If they are enabled, it won't be a problem for you to recover excel file not saved Mac and restore previous versions in Excel 2008, 2011 and 2016. First let's define what they mean. But if you urgently need to recover those Excel files without failure, you'd better try data recovery software to get your Excel files back now!

What Are AutoSave and AutoRecover in Office?

AutoSave is a tool that can automatically saves your changes to the new document that you've just created, but haven't saved yet. It saves document every few seconds and helps to reduce data loss risk in case of a crash, power failure or user error. This feature is only available if you have an Office 365 subscription and make sure you have installed the latest version of Office.

AutoRecover, a feature that is available in some Office applications, attempts to recover unsaved document files automatically in the event of data loss. It allows you to restore to the last autosaved version of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files.

By default, Microsoft Office provides AutoRecover option that can recover unsaved Excel files, Word, PowerPoint files if the “Save AutoRecover info” box is checked. Follow the steps below to make sure AutoRecover setting is configured in Excel 2008, 2011, and 2016 on Mac.

Configure AutoRecover in Excel 2016:

  1. Click Preferences on the Excel menu.
  2. Under Sharing and Privacy, click Save button.
  3. Tick the “Save AutoRecover info”, and then enter how frequently you want Excel to save workbooks in blank box. Click “OK”.

Configure AutoRecover in Excel 2011, 2008:

  1. Click Preferences on the Excel menu.
  2. Under Sharing and Privacy, click Save icon.
  3. Select the AutoSave or AutoRecover info every check box, and then enter how frequently you want Excel to save workbooks. Click “OK”.

How to Recover Unsaved Excel File on Mac

Method1. Recover Unsaved Excel File on Mac If Configured AutoSave or AutoRecover

If you have turned on the AutoSave and AutoRecover features before not saving the Excel files, you can recover them on Mac easily. You will see all AutoRecover files are listed in the Open Recent list when opening Excel app. And then you can save the AutoRecover file to another location. Many users wonder where are AutoRecover Excel files saved on Mac, below is the path: 

For Office 2016:


For Office 2011 and 2008:

/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Office X AutoRecovery (X stands for Office version)

In the Finder, enter the path above to find automatically saved Excel files. Then you can recover unsaved excel files on Mac and copy them to other locations for backup.

1. If you close a excel file or quit Excel normally and choose Don't Save option, the file is deleted from the AutoRecover folder. So this way doesn’t apply to recover excel files that are unsaved intentionally.

2. If the excel file was never saved, there will be nothing to fall back on, because AutoRecover is only triggered for documents already stored on disk.

3. The method can also work on recovering unsaved Word and PowerPoint files on Mac.

4. If the method wouldn't work, all you need is a Mac data recovery tool like Cisdem Data Recovery to recover your Excel files now!

Method2. Recover Unsaved Excel File on Mac If Didn’t Configure AutoSave or AutoRecover

If you haven’t configured AutoSave or AutoRecover, then you can’t recover unsaved Excel files by following the above method. But you can also try to recover unsaved Excel files or overwritten document on Mac from the Temporary folder by locating Excel temp files. Follow the steps below to find Excel temp files:

  1. Open Terminal and in the window, type “open $TMPDIR” and hit “Enter”.
  2. Then it opens Temporary files folder. Select the folder named ‘’Temporaryitems’’.
  3. Under ‘’Temporaryitems” and the unsaved Excel file will be named begin with ‘~Excel Work File’. Find the required Excel file and restore. Then copy and save it to another safe spot by changing the extension from .tmp to .xls/.xlsx.

How to Recover Deleted and Lost Excel File on Mac

If you delete an important excel file accidently or have a saved Excel file lost due to unknown reasons, the above way can’t help you recover them. This is where Cisdem Data Recovery comes in.

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac is one of the best Mac data recovery software for you to recover deleted, or lost excel files no matter which Office version you are using. And it also can recover lost photos, emails, videos, audios, archives, and other documents from internal/external hard drive, flash drive, MP3 player, digital camera, memory stick, memory card, iPod, etc.

“Cisdem Data Recovery can be a lifesaver for many of us. Losing important files can be a big problem for us. Fortunately, this software solves this issue. Overall, this is good data recovery software for Mac. Keep this software handy, you never know when you will need this.” - WebAdvice

You can try this data recovery software for free and follow below steps to recover Excel file on Mac easily.

Steps to recover Excel files on Mac

Step1. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery on Mac, then launch it. And choose one of the five recovery solutions to continue.

Step2. Then this excel file recovery software will list all hard drives and connected external devices, then choose the drive where the deleted or lost excel files have been stored.

Step3. Click “Scan” to scan your deleted or lost excel files. This excel recovery tool can make sure all the lost excel files will be found and retrieved. The scanning process will take you some time.

Step4. After this excel recovery tool finds all deleted or lost excel files, then it will list them on the left column. You can click each excel file to preview, then select all excel files you want to recover and click “Recover” button to get all lost excel files back.

How to Recover Overwritten Excel File on Mac

To recover overwritten Excel files on Mac, you can search temporary files in Finder. If the method doesn’t work, you’d better try to restore them to previous versions via Time Machine if turned on.

Time Machine can automatically backup all of your files so that you won’t lose anything. To recover overwritten Excel files on Mac from Time Machine:

  1. Click the Time Machine icon on your dock and choose “Enter Time Machine”.
  2. Use the timeline to select the Excel version that is just prior to overwriting. Open it to preview.
  3. Select the Excel file you need and click the Restore button to restore it.

Tips to Save and Backup Excel Files

Overall, it’s very easy for Mac users to recover excel files unsaved, overwritten or even deleted by mistake. All you have to do is to follow the guides we mentioned above. And there are some tips for you to avoid losing data from documents including excel files.

  • Enable “Save AutoRecover info every“option, just as I introduced before. This helps you recover Word, Excel and Powerpoint files automatically in the event of data loss.
  • Do not use AutoRecover as a substitute for regularly saving your Excel files by clicking the Save button.
  • Protect your computer from virus attack, because virus can make your Excel, Word and other files corrupted.
  • Use “Save as” feature to make a copy of your Excel files on another place.
  • Always upload your Excel files to cloud like OneDrive, Dropbox for backup.
  • Getting a Mac data recovery to perform emergency file recovery is also important.

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2 Comments Leave a Reply

  • Valeria

    Thank you!

    2 years ago REPLY
  • Stella

    AutoRecover is a super useful feature to recover unsave excel, word or other documents, I like it.

    2 years ago REPLY