10 Ways to Recover Unsaved or Deleted Excel File on Mac

Connie Wisley
April 02, 2024 Preview 135.8K Preview 3
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Microsoft Excel is one of the best productivity tools. People who use Excel regularly may come across the problem of leaving an Excel file unsaved on Mac, due to power outage, Excel app crash, file corruption, conflicting add-ins and so on.

Then what can we do? Abandon the work and start over? No, thanks to Excel’s AutoRecover and 3rd-party data recovery programs, we are able to recover an unsaved or deleted Excel file on Mac easily.


Part 1. How to Recover Unsaved Excel on Mac

Microsoft Office makes it relatively simple to recover an Excel file that was not saved, because it has AutoSave and AutoRecover feature. 

AutoSave is a tool that can automatically saves your changes in the file without clicking Save button, it saves document every few seconds and helps to reduce data loss risk in case of a crash, power failure or user error. While, AutoRecover is the feature to recover unsaved document files automatically in the event of data loss. It allows you to restore to the last auto-saved version of Excel files. 

If you have enabled this feature, there are 3 ways to restore an unsaved Excel file on Mac, if you didn’t enable this feature or AutoSave won’t restore your files, there follows another 2 methods for unsaved Excel file recovery. But first, we want to recommend the best solution that is powerful to recover an unsaved, deleted, corrupted or lost Excel file.

#1 Use Cisdem Data Recovery

Whether you want to restore an unsaved Excel file or a deleted Excel spreadsheet, we strongly recommend getting yourself an excellent data recovery program. No need to spend long time to manually dig out the Excel documents from a backup, nor visit auto recovery folder but find nothing!

We researched extensively to find out the best data software available, by considering important factors including pricing, ease of use, features, recovery rate, customer service, etc. Cisdem Data Recovery is worth a try.

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac is one of the best Mac data recovery software to recover unsaved, deleted and damaged office files no matter which Office version you are using. And it also can recover 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.

Why Cisdem Data Recovery?

  • Recover all kinds of files: photo, audio, video, document, etc
  • Recover from internal or external storage device, also from iCloud
  • Recover files lost under different situations: power off, system crash, virus, etc
  • Restore unsaved, deleted and corrupted Word, Excel, Powerpoint files
  • Repair damaged videos and photos
  • Preview files before recovery
  • Fast and smart scanning or recovery
  • Recover both to local drive and Cloud

The steps to restore unsaved Excel files and to recover deleted Excel files in Cisdem will be slightly different, you can follow the below guide to restore your files.

Steps to recover unsaved Excel file on Mac

  1. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery on Mac. Then launch it.
    Free Download macOS 10.9 or later
  2. Go to Hardware Disk and choose the hard disk where you lost the Excel files, click Search for lost files to start the scanning.recover excel mac 01
  3. Go to Unsaved Documents, find the unsaved Excel file you want to restore.recover excel mac 02
  4. Preview the Excel files, select and click Recover to save them to local drive or Cloud.recover excel mac 03

If you cannot find the unsaved Excel files in the Unsaved Documents folder, you can go directly to Type > Documents > XLSX or XLS folder to search file by name, size, date.

Steps to recover deleted Excel files on Mac

  1. Launch Cisdem Data Recovery.
  2. Go to Hardware Disk and choose the hard disk where you lost the Excel files.
  3. Click on Search for lost files. As the scanning process continues, you can go to Type > Documents > XLSX or XLS, or you can use the filter to find specific Excel files quickly.recover excel cisdem 04
  4. Double click on the Excel file to preview, then select the files and recover them to local drive or Cloud.


#2 Relaunch Excel on Mac

In the case that you have enabled AutoSave, Excel will prompt you to open and restore the unsaved workbook whenever you launch the program if there is any change unsaved onto your file.

  1. Wait for the Excel app to open automatically if your have a power outage, or relaunch the app manually.
  2. Click Yes to open the recovered workbooks, the changes will be saved in the file.open unsaved excel
  3. Save the file to your Mac.


#3 Recover Unsaved Excel Workbooks from Info Menu

If there is no message popping up for you to recover the unsaved workbook, you can:

1. Go to Info > Manage Workbook > Recover Unsaved Workbooks.recover unsaved workbook

2. Browse the recent unsaved files and select the one that you want to restore, rename and save it. 


#4 Recover from AutoRecovery Location

Also, you can manually restore unsaved Excel file by searching the files in AutoRecovery location on your Mac. The AutoRecovery location for different versions of Microsoft Excel is different, you can use Mac Finder to locate an unsaved Excel file quickly.

  1. Click on Finder App on your Mac, go to Go > Go to Folder.auto recover 01
  2. Find Where the AutoRecovered files are stored on your Mac by entering the following path.
    For Office 365, 2021, 2020 and 2016:
    For Office 2011 and 2008:
    /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Office X AutoRecovery (X stands for Office version) auto recover 02
  3. Open the AutoRecover Excel files and save or copy as needed.auto recover 03


#5 Recover Unsaved Excel File on Mac from Temporary Folder

If you haven’t configured AutoSave or AutoRecover, you can try to recover Excel files that not saved 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".recover excel temp 01
  2. Then it opens Temporary files folder. Select the folder named "Temporaryitems" and check if the unsaved Excel file is there.recover excel temp 02
  3. Open or copy and save it to another location as you like.


#6 Recover Unsaved Excel File on Mac from Previous Version

Still unable to restore the unsaved Excel file? Maybe you should try restoring a latest version of the file to avoid starting over. The Version History tool in Excel will help you find and restore an unsaved Excel from an earlier version. Though this method won’t restore all the changes in an Excel file, it saves you some time and effort on re-working on the file.

  1. Launch Office Excel on Mac.

  2. Go to File > Browse Version History.restore previous excel version 01

  3. Choose the latest version and click Open Version.restore previous excel version 02

  4. Then click Restore.restore previous excel version 03


Part 2. How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac?

To recover deleted or lost Excel file on Mac, the AutoRecover won't help, and you will need a professional data recovery tool or Excel backups to retrieve the Excel file on Mac.

#1 Recover Deleted or Lost Excel File in Mac Trash

When deleting an Excel file on mac, we just moved the file to Trash, if we didn’t continue to "Delete Immediately" in Mac Trash, it is still possible for us to recover the deleted or lost Excel file on mac from Trash.

  1. Launch Trash.
  2. Click on the icon "Change the item arrangement" to fast find the deleted Excel file.mac trash find01
  3. Once the deleted file is located, right click on the file and choose "Put Back" to finish the Excel file recovery.mac trash find 02


#2 Recover Deleted Excel Spreadsheet via Time Machine

Time Machine is the Mac utility enabling users to back up files to external hard drive. If you have enabled Time Machine on your Mac, you will be able to recover the Excel files from Time Machine backups.

  1. Click Time Machine icon from the menu bar, click Enter Time Machine.restore excel from time machine 01
  2. Go to Finder > Documents or other path where you store the deleted Excel files on your Mac.
  3. Use the timeline to select the version for your deleted Excel, then press Space Bar to preview.
  4. Click "Restore" to retrieve the deleted Excel files on Mac.  recover deleted excel files with time machine


#3 Recover Deleted or Lost Excel on Mac via Online Backup

If you get used to back up files via online storage services, such as iCloud, OneDrive, SharePoint, etc, you can also recover deleted Excel files easily.

With iCloud

  1. Go to iCloud and login into your iCloud account.
  2. Go to iCloud Drive > Browse.
  3. Select the Excel file you want to recover, then click "Download a Copy".recover excel icloud


With OneDrive

  1. Go to OneDrive and login into.
  2. Go to My files and find the deleted Excel file.
  3. Click on the ... icon and select "Download" to recover the deleted Excel file on your Mac.recover excel onedrive


With SharePoint

  1. Log into your SharePoint account and go to the site's folder where you have a backup of the deleted Excel file.
  2. Select the Excel file that you deleted from your Mac.recover from sharepoint
  3. Then click the Download button to save the file to your Mac.recover from sharepoint02


#4 Recover Deleted Excel Document on Mac for Free

Most of the Excel recovery tools require subscription, only few of them are free to recover your files on Mac, PhotoRec is one of them.

PhotoRec is a free Mac data recovery program, it is open source and does an excellent job to recover lost photos from digital camera memory. Besides photos, PhotoRec can recover archives, videos, audios, office documents and others.

Steps to recover deleted or lost Excel file on Mac for free

  1. Download and install PhotoRec.
  2. Run PhotoRec with Terminal app.
  3. Choose location where the Excel files were stored by pressing the arrow key.recover excel file mac free 01
  4. Press C to start file scanning on your Mac.recover excel file mac free 02
  5. Check the recovered Excel files in the destination folder.recover excel file mac free 03


To recover Excel file that not saved on Mac, the AutoRecover feature of MS Office Excel itself is absolutely a good choice, but if this doesn’t work, you will need a professional Data Recovery software to dig out your Excel files, like Cisdem Data Recovery.

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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  • Laura

    I love Cisdem. It truly recovers my lost Excel files in a more efficient and successful way compared with other free methods, though I need to do a payment.

    1 years ago commonReply

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  • Valeria

    Thank you!

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • Stella

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

    7 years ago commonReply

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