How to Recover Saved & Unsaved Word, Excel, PowerPoint Files on Mac

  • Written By Vishal

  • Updated on March 8, 2021

  • Min Reading 5 Min

Summary: In this blog, we’ll share different methods to recover saved and unsaved Office Files on Mac. The troubleshooting techniques we are going to discuss are mentioned in the table. Also, download the free data recovery software to recover up to 1 GB ‘Office for Mac’ files.

How to Recover Saved & Unsaved Word, Excel, PowerPoint Files on Mac
Table of Content

1. Retrieve unsaved PowerPoint file using the temp folder
2. Retrieve unsaved Word file using the AutoRecovery folder
3. Put back deleted ‘Office for Mac’ files using the Trash folder
4. Restore deleted ‘Office for Mac’ files using Time Machine
5. Recover deleted ‘Office for Mac’ files using a data recovery tool

You’ll try everything to recover your unsaved Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files on your Mac, isn’t it? Suppose you’re working on a high-priority multi-sheet Excel workbook (tracking sales record) and simultaneously preparing Word templates and PowerPoint presentations to give it a visual kick, and suddenly, out of nowhere, before saving all your files you accidentally end up closing all the windows, or your Mac shuts down unexpectedly. You would think that you’re files are gone, but that’s not the case. Irrespective of how it happened, there’s a fair chance you can recover your unsaved files.

The next section highlights best methods to recover unsaved or recover deleted Office for Mac files in the best possible manner.

1.  Restore unsaved PowerPoint file by using temp folder

While working on a PowerPoint presentation, if your Mac crashes before you save it, you can try recovering the unsaved PowerPoint file from the temp folder.

Follow the steps mentioned below to locate the PowerPoint temp files:

  1. Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
  2. In the Terminal window, type open $TMPDIR and hit Return.
  3. Select the folder named ‘Temporaryitems’.
  4. In ‘Temporaryitems’, find the required PowerPoint file and restore it. For example, the unsaved PowerPoint file will be named ‘PowerPointfile B$123.tmp’.
  5. Open the file with ‘TextEdit’ because a .tmp file won’t open with PowerPoint.

2.  Retrieve unsaved Word file using the AutoRecovery

AutoRecovery is a built-in feature in Word for Mac and is always ON by default. This on-state implies your Mac saves the files incrementally and automatically. But the only prerequisite is that you ought to save the Word document initially. AutoRecovery saves files when Mac shuts down unexpectedly, say in case of power failure. But if you haven’t saved your Word document once, you’ll lose the unsaved files, whether AutoRecovery was enabled or not.

To access the AutoRecovery folder, which is a hidden folder, do the following.

  1. Open Finder and type AutoRecovery in the Spotlight search box.
  2. Find the AutoRecovery folder, open it, and look for the AutoRecovery Word files.
  3. Save the required AutoRecovery Word file again to the desired location.
  4. You can also find AutoRecovery files below: Users/<username>/Library/Containers/

Enable AutoSave

You should enable the AutoSave feature in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to save files automatically and set its frequency. For instance, set AutoSave to save your files every 1, 5, or 10 minute(s).

Steps to set the frequency of AutoSave in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Mac are as follows:

  1. Open Word, Excel, or PowerPoint menu, then click Preferences.
  2. Click Save. Select Save AutoRecover info and enter the frequency to save the files.

3.  Put back deleted Office for Mac files from the Trash folder

Trash is a repository of deleted files that stores all your deleted items (say your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files) temporarily unless you delete the files from Trash or empty Trash. When you accidentally delete your ‘Office for Mac’ files (but not permanently), you can always check them in the Trash folder, and if found, you can restore them from there. Steps are as follows:

Step 1) Open Trash, then search the deleted files. Select all the required deleted files.

recover deleted files from Mac free

Step 2) Right-click the selection and choose ‘Put Back’. All the selected files restore from Trash to their original location.

recover deleted files for mac

Step 3) Alternatively, you can drag and drop the deleted files from Trash to the Desktop or anywhere in Finder.

But if you delete the files permanently using the permanent file deletion command or empty your Trash folder, then you can’t use Trash to restore the deleted files.

Read – How to Recover Files Emptied from Trash

4.  Restore deleted Office for Mac files using Time Machine

When you delete your Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files permanently from your Mac, then you can restore them using their duplicate copy. Fortunately, macOS provides the Time Machine app with every Mac device that takes incremental backup of Macintosh HD to an external backup drive.

Suppose you’ve set up a Time Machine backup drive and selected the “Back Up Automatically” checkbox. Also, you’ve kept your Time Machine backup drive connected to your Mac, either via physical wire or wirelessly. Then, your Mac performs the incremental back up during its stipulated time—hourly, daily, and weekly.

By using the Time Machine backup drive, you can restore the deleted ‘Office for Mac’ files. Steps are as follows:

Step 1) Make sure your Time Machine backup drive is connected to your Mac.

Step 2) On the Menu Bar, go to Time Machine > Enter Time Machine.

Step 3) Find the deleted Office for Mac files by using Timeline or Up and Down arrows.

Step 4) Select all the deleted files, then click Restore. The selected files restore to their original location.

recover deleted files in mac

Time Machine backup drive is also useful in restoring data when your macOS turns corrupt, Mac fails to boot, or all your Mac storage drive data is lost due to drive erasure.

5.  Recover deleted Office files using Mac data recovery tool

When you don’t use Time Machine to back up your Mac or the Time Machine backup is old, then you need to leverage a free data recovery software for Mac to recover your deleted Office for Mac files. A data recovery software can help you recover deleted PowerPoint, Excel, or Word for Mac files easily. Steps are as follows:

Step 1) Download and install Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac. Launch the software.

Step 2) Toggle on Document file type, then click Next. Specify the drive location from where you wish to recover deleted files, toggle on Deep Scan, then click Scan.

Step 3) Preview and recover up to 1 GB of the recoverable files to a distinct drive location to avoid overwriting.  (Watch the below software tutorial)

Note: Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac allows free drive scanning, free scanned file previewing, and up to 1 GB of free file recovering. To recover more files, activate the software. Also, the software comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The Office for Mac files must have been saved initially on the Mac storage drive to recover them through the software. In case you accidentally delete files, erase a volume, or lose data while downgrading or upgrading macOS, launch the software to retrieve all the missing files.

Read7 Free & Premium Mac File Recovery Software


It is a good practice to save all your files and back up your Mac periodically by using Time Machine to prevent any untoward data loss situation. Also, enable the AutoSave option in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel for Mac to a minimum frequency (say 1 minute) to save the file automatically. To recover unsaved Office for Mac files, you can use temp or AutoRecovery folder. You can use Terminal command to retrieve the folder but apply your technical expertise to prevent any error.

To recover deleted Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files, you can always check the Trash folder. Also, to recover saved Office for Mac files lost due to accidental deletion, unintentional formatting, or corrupt storage device, leverage Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac. The software facilitates quick and easy recovery of the ‘Office for Mac’ files.

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