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Recovering Unsaved Word Documents OS X

Have you ever had a moment where you thought you saved your work, but when you go back to find it and it is nowhere to be found? If this has happened to you, please keep reading. This losing of Microsoft Word Documents on a Mac happens more often than you think from various reasons from forgetting where you saved the document to the computer-system completing crashing on you in the middle of a sentence. Below are a list of methods if you are trying to locate your lost and unsaved Microsoft Word files.

Method TMP folder

The Apple Mac OS system created temporary files within your computer’s Temporary folder, or TMP folder. It is important to check there first to see if that is where your lost document has ended up. In order to find this folder, you must do the following:

  • Go to Applications, then Utilities, then click on Terminal
  • Once in Terminal, enter the following command and then press enter: open $TMPDIR
  • Once you have entered this, you have now opened your TMP folder.
  • Once in this folder, open the folder named: “Temporaryitems”
  • If you’re lucky you document should be there!

Method Auto Recovery

Now say you go there, and your document is still nowhere to be found. Microsoft Word on Mac computers include an Auto Recovery option. It is automatically turned on by default. What this does is save your opened word file every 10 minutes. You can also modify the app’s settings to have it auto save a document at a shorter or longer interval. This is especially helpful because if you’re computer freezes while you are working on a document, or in the rare case that your computer crashes, you can use the Auto Recovery copy to recover the word document that was last saved by your computer. In order to use this, follow these steps:

  • Close Microsoft Word for Mac
  • Click Home
  • Open the Documents folder, and then open the Microsoft User Data folder
  • Locate the file that starts with the following words: “AutoRecovery save of” and select the document you want to recover, and rename the file to your choosing
  • Add “.doc” to the file name extension
  • Double click on that file, and the document should now open up for Word on Mac.
  • Click the File menu, and then select Save As
  • Type the name of the file into the Name field, and then click the Save button.

The Other Side of This Is to Also Check This Way:

  • Go to Finder, then click “Go”, and then Go to Folder and then type in the following: ~/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery
  • There is a good chance that your lost document may be here.

As long as you have not turned off the AutoRecovery mode, this method should help you recover a document that has disappeared. Note that the process only works for documents that were being worked on before the disappearance.


Method Trash or Backup

Recover Deleted Word Document from Trash or Backup 

After you have saved your word file and exited Microsoft Word, the possibilities of recovering a deleted or lost file are negligible. If you accidentally delete a vital word document that you wish to recover or you have lost your data due to faulty disk, there are a few options that you can exploit to get your files back.


Recover the Deleted File from Trash Bin

To recover a deleted file from trash, click on the Trash icon to open the trash folder.

Locate the file that you want to recover.

Right-click on the name of the file that you wish to recover and select the Put-Back option. The data will disappear from trash and be returned to its original location.


Recover from Backup 

If you are used to backing up your data on Mac, you can use the backup to recover a lost file. However, this only works in cases where the backup was made before the file were deleted. You only have to navigate to your backup and possibly Time Machine that was used in the backup process.


Method Using Disk Drill

This process refers to the use of a data recovery software known as Disk Drill. The software makes use of deep scanning technology to locate file fragments and deleted files that are not visible in your operating system but are visible in your computer storage.

Download the free version of the software and install it.

Run the software and choose the storage where your lost files were last seen.

Select the recover option. This allows the software to scan the storage you selected as it attempts to find the lost file.

To speed up the scan, you can scan for specific files using filters, allowing the application to generate the data that can be recovered.

If, by any chance, the review notifies you that it is possible to recover the files, upgrade the tool to the pro version and use it to recover these files by clicking on the recover option.

Once the files are recovered, identify the location where the recovered data can be stored.


Method Recover Permanently Deleted Word Files

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard 

This is another software that you should try out to recover deleted files, especially when the other methods have failed. The program is used to scan files that had previously been saved either automatically or manually but then deleted at some point and then emptied the trash bin. These files can be found after scanning the hard drive using this software. It recovers files of up to 2GB. For the first attempt, you can use the free version. This program works just like the Disk Drill software.


There are many ways to prevent losing documents, and the most important one is to remember to always save your documents yourself as often as you can. If you are in the middle of thinking before typing, make sure you click save so that your saves properly. The other sure fire way to make sure that this does not happen is to also save all work onto a flash drive. By having your work saved on both a flash drive and your computer, you are less likely to lose you work due to computer crashes, or just forgetting to save in general.


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