7 Ways: How to Recover Unsaved or Deleted Excel Files on Mac

2019-05-21 22:09:14 / 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 spreadsheet and leave the Excel file unsaved on mac due to unexpectedly quit, system crash, power failure, etc. It is really frustrating and you may want to find a way to recover Excel not saved on mac just like George. Well, by following the guide below, you can easily recover unsaved or deleted/lost Excel file on Mac.

Recover Unsaved Excel File on Mac

#1 AutoRecover Excel on Mac

What Are AutoSave and AutoRecover in Office Excel?

Before using AutoRecover to recover Excel file wasn’t saved on Mac, we need to know 2 concepts about AutoSave and AutoRecover.

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. In other words, the AutoSave makes it possible that your Excel files are saved automatically even without clicking the “Save” button in time.

While, AutoRecover is the feature built in Office 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.

By default, Microsoft Office Excel has enabled the AutoRecover option. Also, you can check and configure the Excel AutoRecover on your Mac.

How to Turn ON or Configure Excel AutoRecover on Mac?

In Office 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”.

In Office 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”.

Use AutoRecover to Recover Unsaved Excel File

In fact, if you have enabled AutoSave and AutoRecover, Office Excel will automatically recover your Excel files that left unsaved on Mac when you open Excel again, all you need to do is save the file immediately.

Also, there is another option to do Excel recovery by using AutoRecover:

  • Step 1. Click on Finder App on your Mac, go to Go>Go to Folder.
  • Step 2. Find Where the AutoRecovered files are stored on your Mac by entering the following path.
    For Office 2016: /Users/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Excel/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery
    For Office 2011 and 2008: /Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Office X AutoRecovery (X stands for Office version) 
  • Step 3. Open the AutoRecover Excel files and save or copy as needed.

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!


#2 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”.
  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. 


#3 Recover Unsaved Excel File on Mac in Recent List

If your Excel file is left unsaved, even disappeared on your mac, you can open the Recent list to find out where the file is stored, then save or edit as needed.

  • Step 1. Launch Office Excel on Mac.
  • Step 2. Go to File>Open Recent or click on More to find the Excel file. open recent excel files on mac
  • Step 3. Then save or save as the Excel file on mac.


Recover Deleted and Lost Excel File 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 The Easiest Way to Recover Deleted or Lost Excel 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.

Steps to recover Excel files on Mac

Step 1Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery on Mac. Then launch it.
Step 2Choose a recovery mode.

Step 3Choose the drive where the deleted or lost excel files are stored.

Step 4Click “Scan” to find out your deleted or lost excel files.

This excel recovery tool can find, even dig out all the deleted lost files on mac. All the found files will be put in different categories of different folders.

display excel file on mac in cisdem

Step 5Select the Excel file to preview. 

There are 3 ways to display the found Excel files, including the Preview mode. Also, you can check the box before each Excel file to select those files or recovery.

preview excel in cisdem data recovery

Step 6Click “Recover” to retrieve the deleted or lost Excel file on mac.

Also, you can check the video tutorial.


#2 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.

  • Step 1. Launch Trash.
  • Step 2. Click on the icon “Change the item arrangement” to fast find the deleted Excel file.find files in mac trash
  • Step 3. Once the deleted file is located, right click on the file and choose “Put Back” to finish the Excel file recovery.put back to trash


#3 Recover Deleted or Lost 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.

  • Step 1. Go to Finder>Application>Time Machine;
  • Step 2. Go to Finder>All My Files and find the deleted or lost Excel files on your mac;
  • Step 3. Use the timeline to select the version for your deleted Excel, then press Space Bar to preview;
  • Step 4. Click “Restore” to retrieve the lost or deleted Excel files on Mac. recover deleted excel files with time machine


#4 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, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc, you can also recover deleted Excel files easily.

With iCloud

  1. Go to iCloud and login into your iCloud account;
  2. Go to Settings>Advanced>Restore Files;
  3. Select the Excel file you want to recover, then click “Restore File”;

With Google Drive

  1. Login into your Google account>Google Drive;
  2. Go to Trash, find your deleted Excel files;
  3. Right click on the deleted Excel file, then choose “Restore” to retrieve the Excel file on your Mac;

With OneDrive

  1. Go to OneDrive and login into;
  2. Go to Recycle bin and find the deleted Excel file;
  3. Right click on the file and choose “Restore” to recover the deleted Excel file on your Mac;


Extended: How to Recover Previous Version of Excel File on Mac?

To recover the previous version of Excel on mac, there are 2 options. 

Option #1: Recover Previous Version of Excel in Mac MS Office Excel

  1. Open the Excel file you want to go back to the previous version;
  2. Go to File> Restore> Restore to Last Saved”;
  3. Then save or save as a new Excel file on your Mac;

Option #2: Recover Previous Version of Excel with Mac Time Machine

As you may have noticed, Time Machine allows users to select between different version since it automatically backups all of your files in a fixed interval. 

  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;


To recover Excel file that not saved on Mac, the AutoRecover feature of MS Office Excel itself is absolutely the best choice, if this doesn’t work, you will need a professional Data Recovery software to dig out all versions of the Excel file, then recover as needed. While, for deleted Excel file recovery on Mac, Cisdem also deserve a try.

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2 Comments Leave a Reply

  • Valeria

    Thank you!

    3 years ago REPLY
  • Stella

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

    3 years ago REPLY