Have you found your critical business Word documents missing or intentionally trashed by someone? Are you using MS Word on your Mac or sticking with Pages, the native Apple’s Word processor on Mac OS X? Your priceless Word documents can be recovered if you act fast. Follow these instructions to learn how using native recovery methods and specialized data recovery software. macOS Monterey Ready!
These days, MS Word documents are saved in an open XML-based DOCX format, which is standardized and has a definitive file signature that can be easily picked up by Deep Scan. Older MS Word document files were identified by .DOC extension, and they are also supported by Disk Drill’s Deep Scan binary reconstruction method.
All Microsoft Office products, including Word, additionally support the OpenDocument format, which is an open standard file format that’s widely supported by virtually all popular office suites, as well as Disk Drill’s data recovery algorithms.
Common Situations That Can Lead to the Loss of Your Word Document on a Mac
Most Word document loss issues on Mac computers have the same causes, and understanding them can go a long way in helping you protect your files.
It doesn’t take much to delete the wrong Word document by mistake, especially when multiple documents have similar names. The good news is that accidentally deleted documents can often be retrieved from Trash or recovered using data recovery software.
When you overwrite an important Word document, you lose access to the original file. However, the original file may still be present on your storage device and recoverable using data recovery software.
A single power outage or operating system crash can cause a lot of problems unless you regularly save your Word documents when working on them. Fortunately, the latest version of Microsoft Word has several built-in recovery mechanisms that can help you recover even from situations that seem utterly desperate
Storage device formatting seems like the worst data loss situation possible, but that’s often not the case at all. In reality, formatted storage devices are often full of data—it’s just that the data has been marked as deleted, allowing new data to be written in its place. Until that happens, data recovery software can help you recover it.
Word documents can become corrupted for a number of reasons. Extreme corruption can make documents impossible to open and even cause them to disappear entirely. To address this issue, Microsoft Word has native document repair capabilities, and you can always combine them with dedicated data recovery software.
These days, you can encounter all kinds of nasty strains of malware. Ransomware, for example, can encrypt your Word documents and make them impossible to open or recover. A capable anti-malware solution may be able to help you get rid of your malware infection, but taking steps to avoid it in the first place is always the best strategy.
How to Recover Deleted Files with Mac Word Recovery Software
1. Get Disk Drill for Mac Installed
Download the free trial version of Disk Drill data recovery software for macOS and install it on your computer. If the lost Word files were on your machine’s main hard drive, DO NOT use this disk for storing and installing Disk Drill. Instead, connect an external disk or flash drive to your computer and use it to download and install the software. This will protect you from inadvertently overwriting the files you want to recover.
2. Launch Disk Drill Data Recovery Software for Mac
If the lost files were on an external device, you should connect the drive before starting the program. You will be presented with a disk list in the app’s main window. Select the drive or partition that contained the deleted files.
3. Start Your First Data Scan
Click the Search for lost data button to start scanning the disk for lost and deleted files. You can manually select the type of scan that is performed, but the best results will be obtained by allowing Disk Drill to run all its techniques in the optimal order. A scan progress screen will be displayed, showing the progress of the scanning process. The number of recoverable files will begin to be listed as the scan proceeds. You can pause and restart a scan at any time to recover data at your convenience.
4. Preview the Word files on Mac
Preview the files that can be recovered by Disk Drill. You can filter them to see just your Word files or search for specific items by name. You will need to upgrade to the paid version of the tool to perform the recovery. This can easily be done from within the software, so you can start to recover Word files on Mac right away.
5. Recover Deleted Word Documents on Mac
Click Recover to restore your selected files. Scan results can be mounted as a virtual disk to facilitate the recovery process. Choose a new storage location where the recovery data will be saved. Don’t use the disk that contained the deleted files, or you risk overwriting them before they can be restored. Let the recovery process complete and get back to working with your newly recovered Word files.
Lost and deleted Word files on any type of iOS device can easily be recovered with Disk Drill for Mac. Just connect your iPhone or iPad to a Mac and let Disk Drill scan it to restore your lost Word files.
PC / Mac
Dell®, HP®, Acer®, Asus®, MacBook Pro®, MacBook Air®, Apple iMac® and more
HDD / SSD*
HP®, Samsung®, Seagate®, Toshiba®, WD®, LaCie®, Intel®, Adata® and more
SanDisk®, Samsung®, Kingston®, Corsair®, Patriot®, PNY®, Verbatim®, Silicon Power® and more
SD / CF Card
SanDisk®, Transcend®, Toshiba®, Lexar®, Integral®, SP®, PNY®, Kingston® and more
Tablet / iPad
Apple®, Samsung Galaxy®, Microsoft Surface®, Amazon Fire®, Huawei MatePad®, Lenovo® and more
iPhone / Android
Samsung Galaxy®, iPhone®, Lenovo®, Huawei®, OnePlus®, Google Pixel®, LG® and more
Disk Drill's data protection algorithms have zero footprint on your system performance and are safe to run, but the benefit may be huge. Recovery Vault increases the chances of a successful data recovery in multiple ways. Guaranteed Recovery will not let you ever lose your most important data. Both these data protection options are highly configurable and can be enabled in Disk Drill at any time. Did we mention they are completely free?
Ways to Recover Deleted Word Files on a Mac without Software
While data recovery software can save the day when the odds are stacked against you, there are other ways to recover deleted Word files on a Mac, and we encourage you to try them by following the step-by-step instructions below.
When you delete a Word document on a Mac, the document first goes to a special folder called Trash, and you can easily recover it from there with a few simple clicks:
Click the Trash icon located on the right side of the Dock.
Find the Word document you want to recover and select it.
Drag the selected Word document to any folder on your computer. Alternatively, you can right-click on it and choose the “Put Back” option to move the document to its original location.
Restore Lost Word Documents from a Time Machine Backup
Time Machine is the native backup utility in macOS. When configured to automatically back up the system drive, it provides a convenient way to restore all deleted files, regardless of whether they’re still physically present on the hard drive or not. Here’s how to use it to recover lost Word documents:
Connect your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
Click the Launchpad icon in the Dock and open Time Machine from the Utilities folder.
Navigate to the folder where your Word document was located.
Use the timeline on the right to go back in time so that you can select the most up-to-date version of the Word document you want to recover.
Select the document and, optionally, press Spacebar on your keyboard to recover it.
Click Restore to recover the selected document.
Restore Your Word Document from a Manual Backup
Not every Mac user relies on Time Machine to back up important files. If you manually back up files to an external storage device or a cloud storage solution, then now is the right time to carefully go through it to see if it contains your Word document. If it does, then all you need to do is copy it to your Mac.
Recover AutoSaved Word Documents from OneDrive
The latest version of Microsoft Word has an extremely useful feature called AutoSave. This feature automatically saves your Word documents to the cloud every few seconds, ensuring that even a sudden power outage or system crash won’t cause you to lose more than a few seconds of work. Since AutoSaved Word documents are stored in OneDrive (or OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online), you can recover them with ease:
Launch Word on your Mac.
Click File > Open.
Select Online Locations and choose your OneDrive account.
Find the Word document and open it.
Use AutoRecover to Retrieve a Lost Word Document
By default, the Mac version of Word saves a recovery file every 10 minutes. You can use this recovery file to retrieve a lost Word document in the event of an application or system crash. Best of all, you don’t even need to manually select this file because Word will automatically recover your work from it following an unexpected shutdown. If it doesn’t, then you can manually open the recovery file by navigating to the following location:
Look for Your Word Document in the Mac Temp Folder
Your Mac computer has a special folder where it stores temporary files. While it’s not very likely that the file you’re looking for will be there, it’s worth taking a look, especially since opening the Temp folder is a matter of entering a single command in the Terminal app:
Hire Data Recovery Professionals to Recover Your Word Document
DIY data recovery software and other methods can successfully address many different data loss situations, but they can’t help you recover data from mechanically damaged storage devices that can no longer be detected and accessed. In such situations, hiring data recovery professionals is your best option. This is what you need to do:
Initiate your order and prepare your storage device (or your entire Mac) for shipping.
Ship your storage device and wait for an expert estimate.
Approve the quote and wait for your data to be recovered.
Tips to Keep Your Word Files Safe
Taking regularly scheduled backups of your data is the best way to keep your Word files and all of your other information safe. You can use software installed on your system like Time Machine or opt for a cloud backup solution.
Viruses and malware can be responsible for all kinds of data loss scenarios. Keeping your computer protected with an updated and reliable antivirus tool can go a long way toward keeping your valuable information safe.
Avoid Physical Damage
Physical damage to your storage media can result in lost Word files. Keep your computer or hard drive away from excessive heat and moisture. Consider using a surge protector to guard against damaging power spikes.
Use Data Protection Tools
Disk Drill offers Mac users two free data protection tools that will help keep your Word files safe. Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery allow you to specify files and folders for additional protection and streamlined recovery.
Deep Scan for Word Document Recovery Mac
You've already heard about all the data recovery methods Disk Drill is capable of. Deep Scan is one of them. MS Office for Mac OS X is known for being relatively unstable, so we recommend not only enabling auto-saving of your Word documents, but also using one or both shields in Disk Drill to enable data protection on your Documents folder. If the disaster already happened, Disk Drill's Deep Scan and other data recovery options are always ready to help!
Where do I find AutoRecover files in Word for Mac?
Navigate to this folder to view AutoRecover files in Word for Mac:
/Users/<username>/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery. This is a hidden folder, so you need to use the Command+Shift+Dot key sequence to see the folder.
Where are unsaved Word documents stored?
Unsaved Word documents are stored in temporary storage and can be recovered using the Manage Document > Recover Unsaved Documents option.
How do I recover a Pages document on a Mac?
You can recover a Pages document on a Mac using these methods:
Restore the document from the Trash;
Recover from a backup;
Use File > Revert To from inside Pages recover a previous version;
Get your file back with data recovery software.
How do I find my documents on a Mac?
You can use Spotlight to locate Word files with this process:
Open Spotlight by clicking the magnifying glass in the upper-right corner of your Mac’s screen.
Type your search term in the Spotlight Search box.
How do I uncorrupt a Word document on a Mac?
Follow these steps to repair a corrupt Word document on your Mac:
Launch Word on your Mac.
Click File > Open.
Choose the drop-down called Enable or Show.
Select the Recover Text from Any File option.
Locate the corrupted Word file.
Follow the prompts to repair the corrupted file.
Can I recover an overwritten Word document on Mac?
It is possible to recover an overwritten Word document on your Mac by restoring a previous version of the file. Microsoft Office keeps previous versions of all the files that it creates and allows you to recover them if necessary. This feature offers added protection and enables you to return quickly and easily recover from inadvertently overwriting a Word document.
How do I recover an overwritten Word document?
To recover an overwritten Word document on Mac:
Open a Finder window and navigate to the overwritten file.
Right-click on the file to open it.
Select Files from the Microsoft Word toolbar.
Click Info > Versions and choose the version you was to use for the recovery.
Click the Restore button at the top of the document.
How do I restore a previous version of a Word document on Mac?
Version history for Word documents in Microsoft Office only works for files that are stored in OneDrive or SharePoint in Microsoft 365. Use the following steps to look at previous versions of these files.
Open the file you wish to view.
For Office 2016 or 2019 for Mac, select File > Browse Version History. For Microsoft 365 for Mac, select the name of the document on the title bar of the application, then select Browse Version History.
Select a version and it will open in a separate window.
How to recover unsaved Word document Mac without AutoRecovery?
If the document you want to recover has never been saved, then the AutoRecovery feature won’t help you, but you might be able to retrieve it from the temporary folder:
1. Launch Terminal. 2. Enter the following command:
cd $TMPDIR 3. Type
to display all files that are located in the temporary folder. 4. Look for your document. 5. Copy the document to a safe folder using the [cd command](Terminal User Guide).
Disk Drill 4
Recover Lost or Even Unsaved MS Office Documents (Word, Excel, etc.)
You are my hero! On this friday morning, I woke up to my brand new iMac 27" which I bought yesterday to use for music producing among other things, and the first thing I saw this morning was an error message saying my Seagate HD had failed!!!!!! On that drive I had my new album, and it felt so extremely bad to lost my project files for my next epic release!