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How to Recover Unsaved/Deleted Word Document on Mac

Home > HowTos > File Recovery Tips on Mac Updated by Robert on May 17, 2024 | Approved by Nancy

Whatever the reason, losing a valuable Word doc is often heartbreaking. The good news is that there are several effective methods to recover a Word document on Mac and fix a damaged file in Word. From built-in features to third-party tools, we'll guide you through the steps and ensure you know how to protect your work from the unexpected.

Why Did My Word Document Disappear on My Mac?

The common causes of lost Word on Mac can vary, but some prevalent reasons include:

  • How the Word doc lost?
  • What will happen
  • Solutions
  • Version Confusion
  • Description: After making multiple changes to a document, you find that the previous one was the best, but you cannot roll back to the desired version.

    Impact: Your hard work will be in vain and may even require more time to re-create.

  • Solution 5. Review Version History

    Solution 6. By Time Machine

Understanding these common reasons for losing documents on macOS is crucial to implementing an effective retrieval strategy. Next, let's examine these Word file recovery Mac solutions.

How to Recover Unsaved Word Doc on Mac

Have you lost work in progress due to a crash or other reasons? Don't be afraid; multiple find unsaved Word document Mac solutions that can help you. They are:

Method 1: Utilizing the Built-in AutoRecovery Feature

This functionality serves as the first defense against document loss on Mac. It can silently save your work in the background and provide an effective recovery solution after disaster strikes.

A. Through Word's Interface

If you've recently lost a doc and the program didn't shut down unexpectedly, you might have an excellent chance of Mac Word recover unsaved document directly. Here is the guide:

  1. Open Word and go to "File > Open Recent."

  2. Check the list for unsaved documents.
  3. Reopen it and save it to a new location.

B. From AutoRecovery Folder

This method is especially useful if your work is suddenly lost due to a program or system crash. To unsaved Word document recovery Mac, please follow these steps:

  1. Open Finder and navigate to "Go > Go to Finder."

  2. Copy the location according to your Word version into the input box and click "Go."

    For Word 2016 and later: /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/com.Microsoft/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery
    For Word 2011: /Users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Office 2011 AutoRecovery/
    For Word 2008 and 2004: /Users/<username>/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office [version] AutoRecovery/
  3. Look for files beginning with the "AutoRecovery save of" prefix.

  4. Once you find the target file, reopen it with Word and save it again.

Tip: If you are not sure that the version of Word or the path is wrong, you can also directly type "AutoRecovery" in the Finder search box to find this directory. Besides, this method will also help you with unsaved PowerPoint recovery on Mac

Method 2: From Temporary Folder

Where do unsaved documents go to hide? They might be within the Temporary folder if they escape Word's notice. This folder will store temporary files generated by applications and processes for a short period, so you can go here to try your luck.

  1. Open Terminal, type "open $TMPDIR" without quotes and press Enter.
  2. Look for folders with names starting with "" or "Temporaryitems".
  3. Within these folders, look for any files related to Word or with a .tmp extension.

  4. Once you locate a potential temporary file that resembles your unsaved document, copy it to a safe location on your Mac.
  5. Change the file extension to .docx and try opening it in Word to recover your work.

Method 3: Use Tool for Recovery

If you still don't find your document in the Temporary Folder, consider using third-party software like iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac. Its latest version leverages AI technology to retrieve any item ever saved on your hard drive.

To recover a unsaved Word document on Mac, please follow these steps:

  1. Download and install iBeeosft Data Recovery to your Mac.
  2. After running it, select the hard drive where the lost Word is and click "Scan."
  3. Click "Unsaved Documents" in the left panel and switch to ".Doc/Docx" in the top menu on the right.

  4. Find your lost Word and double-click it to check the content.
  5. Click "Recover" after confirming the target to save it.

The methods provided above are straightforward and easy to follow, ensuring that you can easily learn how to retrieve unsaved Word documents on Mac. If the document is not lost per se, and you want to roll it back to an older version because of too many edits, check out the next section.

How to Restore a Previous Version of Word document in Mac

Have you ever finished a document only to realize that a previous version had better content? Even the undo option doesn't always get you back to that ideal version. But don't worry, these solutions are reliable and will help you achieve this.

Method 1: Review Version History

It allows Microsoft Word to track changes made to a document over time so you can view and compare different versions. When an accident occurs, you can use this function to backtrack. Here's how you can access the version history:

  1. Open the document for which you want to access the version history.
  2. Click "File" in the top menu and select "Browse Version History."
  3. Click the "Open version" button below the selected version to view the content.

  4. Once the required version is confirmed, resave it to a new location.

Method 2: By Time Machine

If the Versions feature doesn't show past versions, then Time Machine will be an effective solution for iMac and MacBook Word document recovery, provided you have enabled it.

  1. Connect your Time Machine backup disk if it's not connected.
  2. Navigate to the folder location where your Word document should be.
  3. Open Time Machine and use the timeline to find the version of the document you need.
  4. Select your lost Word document and click "Restore."

With these two methods, your document should return to you with the backing of the past, and you can continue writing forward. Read on if your items disappeared due to accidental deletion or other human error.

How to Retrieve Deleted/Lost Word Documents on Mac

Accidental deletion and formatting of volumes are also reasons for losing documents. However, unlike the method to recover unsaved Word documents on Mac, this method of losing files occurs at the root. Therefore, the above options are not available. But don't be depressed; you can also rely on the following methods.

Method 1: Explore the Trash Repository

Most times, when you delete a file, it doesn't disappear from your system immediately. Instead, it's moved to the Trash, providing a chance for easy Word recovery on Mac.

  1. Double-click on the Trash icon on your desktop.
  2. Locate your deleted Word document.
  3. Right-click on the document and select "Put Back."

The document will appear in its original location. If you emptied the recycle or it's not here, go to the following method.

Method 2: Use Specialized Software

If the above methods fail or you've circumvented Mac's standard document management, your best option is the specialized tool - iBeesoft Mac data recovery software.

Here is a guide for how to recover Word doc on Mac:

  1. Download and Install iBeesoft Data Recovery.
  2. Launch it and choose the drive where you lost the documents to scan.

  3. After the scan, preview the files to confirm their integrity and select the ones.
  4. Click the "Recover" button to select a safe location to save.

Method 3: By Professional Recovery Services

Sometimes, the loss of a document causes serious disaster, such as the loss of crucial business data or irreplaceable personal files. However, third-party recovery services may be your only hope when all else fails. For this, if you want to recover a lost Word file on Mac, search for a service provider nearby.

How to Repair Corrupted Word Documents in Mac

Imagine the terrible frustration of recovering an unsaved/deleted Word document on your Mac, only to discover it can't be opened. Don't worry; please try the following methods to restore it to its original state.

Method 1: In Microsoft Word

  1. Click "File > Open."
  2. Select the damaged document and click "Open" in the lower right corner.
  3. Choose "Repair" in the menu.

Method 2: Change the Extension

  1. Make a copy of the corrupted Word document.
  2. Change the file extension from .docx to .zip.
  3. Extract the contents of the archive.
  4. Look for the "word" folder and navigate to the "media" folder.
  5. Check for any images or embedded files causing issues.

Method 3: Use Text Recovery Converter

  1. Download it from the Microsoft website.
  2. Run the converter on the corrupted Word document to attempt recovery.

Method 4: Try Online Tools


Tips to Prevent Document Loss

While these methods can be a lifesaver in the event of a document loss, it's crucial to remember that prevention is always the best solution. So, the relief of recovering a Word doc on Mac should be followed by proactive steps to prevent such incidents.

Following these practices should keep your Word documents safe.


Successfully recovering unsaved or lost Word documents on Mac can save your work. With the help of this guide, you can be better equipped to keep digital disasters at bay and focus on using the Word software for what it was meant to do - create, not lose.

It is important to remember that Word recovery is often a race against time. The longer you wait after a file is lost, the higher the risk of losing it forever. Immediate action and a routine backup strategy are the best defenses against permanent file loss.


  • Microsoft Word autosaves files on a Mac by default every 10 minutes. To adjust this screen, go to 'Word > Preferences > Save' and enter how often you want to save documents in the 'AutoSave/AutoRecover' box.

  • When a Word doc on Mac is unexpectedly closed, Word typically auto-recovers any unsaved documents the next time it's opened. If that fails, you can go to the 'File > Open > Recent' section, which may display a recovered file. If none of these options work, open Finder and enter 'AutoRecovery' in the search box to find documents that begin with 'AutoRecovery.'

  • This will result in your file not being saved. Don't worry; Word's built-in AutoRecovery function still has a high chance of being recovered. When you reopen Word, it should prompt you to recover the unsaved document. If not, check the AutoRecovery folder. Remember, the sooner you check for the unsaved document, the better, as AutoRecovery can be overwritten over time.

  • A sudden shutdown shouldn't spell the end for your doc file. To find unsaved documents on Mac, reopen Word and check the "Recent" tab. If the document is not there, use the steps mentioned in question 2 to complete the retrieval.

  • Several third-party applications can help recover unsaved Word documents on a Mac. Software like iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac or Recoverit offers more advanced recovery options.

  • When a Word document is deleted from your Mac, it moves to the Trash bin. So, you can open the Trash and locate the document, right-click, and select "Put Back." If your Trash is emptied, you can still recover deleted files on Mac using software like iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac and Disk Drill.