How to Recover a Lost QuickTime Recording on Mac

Feb 16, 2017 - 1 Comment


Have you ever been recording a video or audio with QuickTime Player on the Mac only to have the application crash before you were able to save or edit the movie file? If so, you likely assume the video or audio file that was being recorded or was saved is now missing, but that is not always the case. Often times you can actually recover a lost QuickTime video file or QuickTime audio file by manually sorting through the filesystem of a Mac to locate the lost data.

This tip can be helpful to possibly recover any recorded video on Mac, recorded audio, recorded Mac screen, or even a recorded iPhone screen, a long as it was being taken from within QuickTime on a Mac. This tip can also be helpful if the QuickTime app crashed or froze during recording and now there is a large cache file that is using disk space but that QuickTime app itself is unable to open or recover on it’s own, since it gains direct access to the file.

Finding Lost QuickTime Recordings on Mac

From the Finder of Mac OS, hit Command+Shift+G (or go to the Go menu) to access Go To Folder, and enter the following path:

~/Library/Containers/ Information/

Within this directory, you’re looking for file(s) named something like:

Unsaved QuickTime Player Document.qtpxcomposition
Unsaved QuickTime Player Document 2.qtpxcomposition
Unsaved QuickTime Player Document 3.qtpxcomposition


You’ll likely want to place the Finder view into List view so that you can see the file sizes, aiming for the larger qtpxcomposition files.

Then you simply right-click (or control+click) and choose “Show Package Contents” to reveal the once lost Quicktime Movie.

Show package contents to find the lost QuickTime file

In this example, the package file contains a 19GB video file called “Movie” which is the full recording of a video that was initially lost from QuickTime during a crash.


Once you have found the file you can drag it to the desktop, re-open it in another app (or in QuickTime), copy it, delete it, or whatever else you plan to do.

By the way, if QuickTime is having a hard time opening the file, it may be too large for QuickTime to manage (such is the case in this example with a 19GB video file from the app which it could not open, perhaps due to RAM limitations on a machine with 16 GB available), you’ll likely have better luck opening the file in another app like iMovie or Final Cut, or even Garageband or Logic if it’s an audio file.

You’d likely have some success locating these files using apps like OmniDiskSweeper and DaisyDisk as well, but knowing exactly where to look on the file system can be very helpful and make the process a bit faster. Thanks to some advice from MacStories for pointing in the general direction.

Did this tip help you locate a once-lost QuickTime recording of video or audio? Let us know in the comments.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

One Comment

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  1. Norman Wiedenman says:

    I have not used QuickTime for years and still don’t.

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