How to Recover Unsaved Word Documents on Mac with AutoRecovery

Feb 26, 2024 - 2 Comments

How to recover an unsaved Word doc on Mac

While you should get in the habit of frequently saving your documents as you work in them, including in Microsoft Word, things don’t always go as planned. Many modern Mac apps will automatically save progress as you work in them, and Microsoft Word is one of them. Thanks to a feature called AutoRecovery, which saves a recovery file of your data every 10 minutes in the background as you work, you may be able to recover files and documents from Word in the event that Word crashes or even the entire Mac crashes.

This tutorial is going to show you how to use the AutoRecovery feature of Microsoft Word on a Mac, and, if that fails, a way to manually access auto recovery files from Microsoft Word in the MacOS file system using a hidden directory. These tricks should help you to recover unsaved Word documents from your Mac.

Word Crashed with an Unsaved Document? Try to Use Word AutoRecovery First!

If Word crashed while you were working on a document, try using the built-in AutoRecovery feature first. Doing that is super easy too.

Simply relaunch Word.

AutoRecovery will attempt to recover the last file(s) or document(s) that were being worked on. They should open automatically and you don’t need to intervene beyond that.

If you open Word and your unsaved documents do not automatically load through the built-in auto recovery feature, proceed to try the next more technical recovery process.

How to Recover Unsaved Word Documents on Mac, Manually

If relaunching Word did not recover your documents automatically, you can try this trick:

  1. Go to the Finder on the Mac
  2. Pull down the “Go” menu and select “Go To Folder” (optionally, hit Command+Shift+G from the Finder to bring up Go To Folder)
  3. Enter the following file path into Go To Folder exactly:
  4. ~/Library/Containers/com.Microsoft/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery/

  5. Hit the return/enter key on your Mac keyboard to jump to the Word AutoRecovery directory in your home directory
  6. Open the document(s) or file(s) found in the AutoRecovery directory, until you find the match for what you are looking to recover

It’s important to remember that the AutoSave feature and AutoRecovery feature works on its own every 10 minutes, so you may lose 10 minutes of changes or input into a document, but you should be able to recover the entire file from Word by using this trick.

AutoRecovery works best to recover unsaved Word documents from crashes, and you don’t want to rely on it to save your data in general. It’s good to get in the habit of routinely saving your work and documents as you work on them.

If the above tricks completely fail, don’t give up quite yet. You may be able to use third party recovery tools to recoup your deleted files, as shown here.

And by the way, if this latter trick sounds totally crazy to you, digging around in some buried folder within the file system to recover an unsaved file from Words autosave feature, it’s not, this is actually exactly what Microsoft recommends on their own support website!

Were you able to recover your unsaved document from Word using the auto recovery feature on Word for Mac? Did you find another solution? Let us know what trick worked for you, or what method you used, to recover your documents from Word on Mac.


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Posted by: Jamie Cuevas in Mac OS, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Forrest says:

    Would be cool if there were a CLI tool (at least) to perform these actions prior to opening the software again, as the latter can be unpredictable (I have found, in the past).

  2. jvh says:


    is not there on my Mac, autorecovery folder only in Office 2008 and 2011 …

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