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How to Recover Unsaved Excel File Mac?

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jan 27, 2024 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions

Have you ever been in trouble due to the loss of unsaved files? There must have been times when you have wondered about how to recover unsaved excel file on Mac. The different answers to the problem of recover Office files that have been lost without saving would be discussed in the following piece of information.

Imagine working on a very significant document on Excel for many hours or creating a highly detailed and complicated graph! Now, just think about what would happen if the system crashes abruptly or you close the file without saving.

The following discussion on how to recover excel file on Mac would go through an overview of different situations where Excel file is not saved and an introduction of the methods that can be used for recovery.

Overview of Unsaved Excel File on Mac

Excel is one of the great spreadsheet software, and every Excel user must know about its functionality. On the other hand, you must have encountered situations in which the complete excel file you were working on remains unsaved and cannot be accessed. This can be a pretty harassing scenario, wouldn't it? So, let us look at the different situations in which some of your important Excel files might remain unsaved. After all, understanding the problem is the first step to find the solutions to recover excel file on Mac, isn't it?

The foremost and most common reason for an Excel file not being saved is abrupt system crashes or failures. System crashes are inevitable processes in which the system shuts down abruptly cannot be predicted, and this can lead to loss of any unsaved work on the Excel files that a user is working on.

The next prominent cause for the unsaved files on Mac is a program crash in which the Excel program stops working suddenly. The sudden crash of Excel could lead to loss of the file that you are working on.

Sometimes, files are not saved upon asking for confirmation when closing the excel file. The user can accidentally prefer to cancel saving any of the new work in a workbook, and this can lead to the work remaining unsaved.

Excel may display a message showing "Document not completely saved" or "Document not saved." This error can happen in cases where the process of saving is interrupted at the instance of the creation of a temporary file upon pressing the "ESC" key.

Another common error message that can result in an unsaved file or lost excel file on Mac is "Document not saved. Any previously saved copy has been deleted". This error is the result of interruption in the process of deleting the original file or renaming the temporary file.

However, there is no reason to worry as there are different methods to recover excel file not saved on Mac devices which can be presented as follows. The first solution is to choose recovery software named "Recoverit" while the second solution implies checking the Trash for recovery of Excel files.

The next solution refers to the use of recent workbooks for the recovery of unsaved files, and the other solution refers to the use of AutoRecover feature for recovering Excel files. The other two solutions discussed in this piece of information include the use of backup to recover lost files and the recovery of unsaved Excel documents from the Temporary folder.

Solution 1: Recover Excel File on Mac with Recoverit

The search for solutions on how to recover lost Excel files on Mac would lead to Recoverit Data Recovery software that is one of the most effective, trusted, and easy-to-use file recovery software. The software could be used in three simple steps for the recovery of any unsaved Excel files on your Mac device.

Step 1: Select the source drive of the unsaved Excel file

To recover an unsaved Excel file on Mac, it is important to select a Mac logical drive that housed the unsaved file. The "All-Around Recovery" tab on the Recoverit software would show the different drives on the Mac device. You should also know to stay calm if the concerned drive is not found on the list- All you need to do is refresh the list!

Step 2: Scan the chosen hard drive

To recover lost excel file on Mac due to setbacks in saving the file, the second step of using Recoverit involves scanning the selected hard drive for searching the unsaved or lost files. You can choose to wait through the complete process of scanning or pause it when you find the desired file.

Step 3: Complete the recovery process

After completion of the scanning process, the different files that can be recovered are displayed. Here you can choose the file that you need and click on the "Recover" button. Then you would be asked for confirmation about selecting the drive for storing the recovered files. Finally, your unsaved Excel files are recovered to the desired location.

Solution 2: Check the Trash Bin for Excel Recovery Mac

Using Recoverit or any other file recovery software would not be the first option to recover unsaved excel file on Mac. The Trash folder is usually the first place everyone should be looking for recovery of unsaved Excel files. However, it should be noted that any unsaved or accidentally deleted files would remain in the Trash only for 30 days.

Step 1: View the Trash

Open the Trash folder through the Mac desktop and search for the unsaved file

Step 2: Identify the unsaved file

Locate and mark the particular Excel file that has to be restored. In the case of multiple files, the search box found at the top left corner of the window can help find out the concerned file through the target search.

Step 3: Drag for recovery

When you find the target Excel file, drag it to a particular location for recovery. On the other hand, you can right-click on the file, and a drop-down menu would appear. In the drop-down menu, click on "Put Back," and the desired file would be recovered to its original location.

Go to learn more about Mac Trash file recovery.
- 2 minutes to read it.


Solution 3: Recover Unsaved Excel File in Recent Workbooks

Another proven solution on how to recover deleted Excel files on Mac involves the use of recent workbooks. This method is specifically applicable for the recovery of Excel files which are unsaved due to the crash of Excel program.

Step 1: Open Microsoft Excel

Open Microsoft Excel and click on the "File" tab to access the "Open" button and then click on it.

Step 2: Access "Recent Workbooks"

Upon clicking on the "Open" option, a menu will pop out in which you can find the "Recent Workbooks" option. Click on the "Recent Workbooks" option.

Step 3: Start Recovery

A list would be displayed, and at the bottom of the list, the option for "Recover Unsaved Workbooks" can be found. Select the option to move to the next step for Excel recovery on Mac.

Step 4: Locate the desired file

Find out the unsaved Excel file from the "Recover Unsaved Workbooks" folder.

Step 5: Open the unsaved file

You can double click on the unsaved Excel file to open it. You could also right-click on it to find a drop-down menu. Click on the "Open" option for opening the unsaved file.

Step 6: Recover the file to a specific location

Click on the "Save As" button in the "File" tab of the unsaved file for choosing the location to save the file.


Solution 4: Recover Excel AutoRecover Files on Mac

AutoRecover and AutoSave features are basic features that help in saving files automatically. AutoRecover can be configured for saving the concerned files in Excel, and it can be used for the recovery of unsaved files.

Step 1: Find the path for AutoRecover files

The path for AutoRecover files on Office 2016 is considerably different from that of Office 2011 and 2008. Take note of the following paths to find better solutions on how to recover Excel file not saved on Mac.

Office 2011 and 2008:

Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Office X AutoRecovery (X denotes the Office version)

Office 2016:


Step 2: Find the Excel files

Click on the "Finder" tab and enter the suitable path as mentioned above to find the unsaved files.

Step 3: Recover the files

Recover the files on Mac by double-clicking on them and then copy them to other locations for backup.


Solution 5: Recover Lost Excel Files from Backup

Backups of Excel files can help in situations when the changes in files that are not meant to have been made and are saved. Here are the steps to recover unsaved excel file on Mac 2011 or other versions by accessing the backup versions.

Step 1: Find the "Info"

Select the "File" tab and then access the "Info" option

Step 2: Find the "Manage Versions" option

Clicking on the "Manage Versions" button would provide access to all the backups of the unsaved file. The versions of the backup of the unsaved file would also display the time and date.

Step 3: Choose the backup for recovery

Select the backup Excel files that you need to recover unsaved excel file on Mac 2016 and double click on it. The option for the "Restore" button can be found on the yellow bar. Click on "Restore" for recovering the unsaved file.


- 2 minutes to read it.

Solution 6: Recover Excel Documents from Temporary Folder

Another proven answer to recover excel document not saved on Mac is the Temporary folder. The Temporary folder contains automatically saved versions of the concerned Excel file. The following steps can be implemented for the recovery of unsaved Excel files from Mac devices using the Temporary Folder.

Step 1: Access "Terminal"

Click on "Utilities" option that is available through "Applications" and then click on "Terminal" the following screen

Step 2: Access the Temporary folder

Type "open $ TMPDIR" in the "Terminal" and then click on "Enter"

Step 3: Find temporary items

After opening the "Temporary" folder, you can select the "Temporary Items" folder

Step 4: Locate the unsaved file

Find out the document not saved Excel Mac in the "Temporary Items" folder that has to be restored.

Step 5: Recover the file

Right-click on the file and then click on the "Open With" option in the drop-down menu followed by clicking on "TextEdit" for opening the temporary (.tmp) file in a format that can be edited and saved to the desired location.


Solution 7: Tips for Mac Excel Recovery

The options for recovering excel file disappeared on Mac can help deal with the damage. But, imagine how good it would be to be prepared in advance? Here are five tips that can help in the easy recovery of unsaved files on Mac.

• Configure AutoRecover:

The feature of AutoRecover for Excel in Mac can be configured to save a file according to the desired frequency. AutoRecover can be accessed by clicking on "Preferences" in the Excel menu. Locate the "Sharing and Privacy" tab and then click on the "Save" button. Now, check the box beside "Save AutoRecover info" and you can choose the time-frequency for saving the Excel files in a blank box.

• Keep hitting the "Save" button:

While the tip mentioned above is helpful to recover unsaved excel on Mac, it is advisable to keep saving the work continuously through clicking on the "Save" button frequently during the work.

• Safeguards against virus attacks:

Keep your systems safe from virus attacks as the attacks can corrupt the Excel files and cause frequent system crashes leading to more unsaved or lost Excel files.

• Format and partition drive carefully:

It is also essential to be careful during formatting or partitioning off a drive and observe the implications that may arise. Improper partitioning of drives is accounted for as the most common cause of unsaved and lost Excel files. So, it is better to clarify this mistake.

• Stay away from automated cleanup tools:

Do not use automated tools for cleanup of the system and to increase memory. These tools can delete unsaved files automatically at times, and hence they should be avoided at all costs.

Read More:

Simple Solutions to AutoRecover in Excel

Tips to Recover Excel Password


On a concluding note, the above piece of information could be a helpful tool for the recovery of unsaved Excel files and preventing any additional damage in the future. Furthermore, the tips to be careful with the accidental loss of Excel files or files becoming unsaved due to certain reasons can help considerably in staying away from unwanted troubles!


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