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3 Proven Ways | How to Recover Unsaved Word Document on Mac

Updated on Jan 25, 2019 by Abby Haines to Mac File Recovery


Accidentally, you closed your Word without saving the work on Mac. Luckily, there is still a probability to recover your unsaved Word document on Mac OS X or macOS. According to the features of Microsoft Word for Mac, you may find the unsaved item from the Recovered items folder, Temporary Folder, or AutoRecovery folder. Besides, if you unintentionally deleted your Word document, you can get it back easily with EaseUS free data recovery software.

Part 1. About Microsoft Word for Mac
Part 2. Recover Unsaved Word Documents (3 Methods)
Part 3. Bonus Tips to Avoid Losing Word Documents & Recover Permanently Deleted Word Documents

Prospect of Word File Recovery on Mac

  • Word for Mac temporarily saves documents that the user has not yet saved themselves in a folder named "Recovered items", located in the Trash. If there are no recovered files, this folder will not appear.
  • Word for Mac saves a copy of the unsaved document named as Word Work File in the Temporary folder.
  • Word for Mac includes an AutoRecovery option. It is turned on by default. The app will automatically save a copy of an open Word file every 10 minutes. If Word freezes while you're working on a document, or if the computer crashes, you can use the AutoRecovery copy to recover unsaved Word document with the changes or additions that you made in your last Word for Mac session.

Microsoft Word for Mac

Recover Unsaved Word Documents on Mac (3 Ways)

Based on the features of Microsoft Word for Mac, there are three potential ways to recover your unsaved Word documents. These methods can also be applied to recover unsaved Excel files on your Mac.

Method 1. Recover from the Recovered items folder in Trash

Step 1. Open "Trash" by clicking its icon on the dock.

Step 2. Look for a folder labeled "Recovered items" and click into it to look for your unsaved Word file. If you cannot find it, try the next solution.

How to recover unsaved Word documents on Mac - Recovered items

Method 2. Recover from the Temporary Folder

Step 1. Go to "Applications" > "Utilities" and double-click "Terminal".

Step 2. In Terminal, enter open $TMPDIR and you will be directed to the TMP folder which is used to keep files temporarily.

Step 3. In the TMP folder, find and open the folder named "TemporaryItems". In it, right-click the desired unsaved Word files and "Open with..." Microsoft Word.

Step 4. Save the Word file by clicking on "File" > "Save As" and save it to another location.

Recover unsaved Word documents from Temporary items folder

Method 3. Recover from the AutoRecovery

Unlike recovering unsaved Word document in Windows, the file recovery on Mac from the AutoRecovery folder is different.

Step 1. Open "Finder" on your Mac, then head to "Go" > "Go to Folder".

Step 2. Type: ~/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery and click "Go".

Step 3. Open the AutoRecovery folder, locate all the files that start with the words "AutoRecovery save of". Select the one you want to recover, rename the file, then add the ".doc" filename extension.

Step 4. Double-click the file. The document now opens in Word for Mac.

Step 5. Click the File menu and select "Save As"'. Type a new name for the file into the Name field, select a folder for the file and click the "Save" button.

Recover unsaved Word documents from AutoRecovery folder

Bonus Tip to Avoid Data Loss & Recover Deleted Word Documents

After suffering from the fear of losing your Word documents, you must not want to experience this kind of situation again. Thus, it's necessary for you to know how to avoid losing your Word files. To avoid completely losing your files, you can:

Tip 1. Save the Word Document Whenever You Create a New One

An ever unsaved Word document exists in the computer's RAM, not on the hard disk. Thus, the chances to save a Word Document that has never been saved before are slim. Knowing this should give you a hint that you should save the word document at least once whenever you create a new one.

Tip 2. Change the AutoSave Interval

After you save your Word document, the AutoSave feature will begin to work. To minimize the loss of the progress on the file you are working, you can change the frequency of AutoSave:

Step 1. Open Microsoft Word on your Mac.

Step 2. Go to "Word" > "Preferences" and click "Save" under Output and Sharing.

Step 3. Check all the items under Save Options (Recommended) and change the interval of AutoSave, for example, from every 10 minutes to every 5 minutes.

If you follow the two tips above, you will substantially decrease the risk of losing your Word documents. What if you carelessly deleted your important Word files on your Mac? No worry. There is a free method to retrieve permanently deleted Word documents provided below.

Tip 3. Recover Permanently Deleted Word Documents

We don't recommend you try any Mac data recovery software on the market for recovering unsaved Word documents. Typically, the third-party software only helps when you at least had an original file located on your computer's hard disk or a connected flash drive, which is later missing due to accidental deletion, disk formatting, virus attack, partition loss, etc.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac is not an exception in retrieving an unsaved Word document on Mac. Even so, it's still a last-ditch effort to take after all the other methods have failed. If there was a file saved at some point, manually or automatically, and you emptied the trash bin, the saved file will show up after you use the program to scan your hard drive.

Anyway, it's worth a try. You're strongly recommended to download its free version for the first attempt. It won't cost you a penny to search for your missing files. And since your problem is only for a few lost Word files, the 2GB recovery limit should be more than enough. The scan & recover process is very simple, we’ll show you how it works.

Step 1. Select the location where your important Word documents were lost and click Scan button.

select the location where your documents lost and click scan

Step 2. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac will start immediately a quick scan as well as a deep scan on your selected disk volume. Meanwhile, the scanning results will be presented in the left pane.

scan the selected drive to find lost documents

Step 3. By Path and Type, you can quickly filter the Word files you've lost earlier. Select the target files and click Recover Now button to get them back at once.

click the recover now button to recover lost documents on your Mac