How do I retrieve an unsaved word file on a mac - using mac office 2011?

Can't seem to find temp files anywhere

 

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Last updated October 16, 2019 Views 770,520 Applies to:
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Unsaved files are gone. You can:
  • Look in your trash for a "Recovered items" folder
  • Go to the Finder, select Go > Go to folder, type /private/var/folders and look for files named "Word Work File" inside a "Temporary items" folder.*  Option drag files or folders to the Desktop (or anywhere else) before dropping them on Word's icon. Don't delete anything!
However, the chances of finding anything useful are remote.

To avoid losing data in the future, save your files as soon as you create them. To reduce the chance that this will happen again, follow Jim Gordon's tip to verify/repair your disk. Also use that same utility to repair permissions (there's a button to do that).


*  Pressing Command F (i.e., File > Find) and searching for "Word Work File" worked for user Lyn Yeowart.

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There are three important concepts often mentioned in this forum:

AutoSave: This functionality is not currently offered by Word, where the only AutoSave available is your fingers. Lion offers AutoSave in Lion-aware applications (how it works depends on each application), which can actually be destructive if you enter temporary changes that you don't intend to save (as in "Lets see how this picture would look here" or "How many words remain if I delete this?"). For Lion's AutoSave to kick in, you first need to save the document.

AutoRecover: Pros: Lets you recover unsaved changes to a file if Word crashes, in which case Word will offer to recover the file after reopening. Cons: (1) If the file was never saved, there will be nothing to fall back on, because AutoRecover is only triggered for documents already stored on disk. (2) If your file gets corrupted but Word does not freeze, there is a good chance that the corruption will carry over to the AutoRecover file. (3) After you quit Word normally, all AutoRecover files get deleted.

AutoRecover is not an AutoSave function:

  • If you've never saved your document (it is still unnamed) and Word crashes, you will lose all your work, whether AutoRecover was enabled or not.
  • If a document contains unsaved changes and you attempt to close it, Word will ask you to save changes. This will be your only chance to get the document on disk, whether AutoRecover was enabled or not.
  • If the document is on disk and AutoRecover is enabled, Word will periodically save temporary files that will be used to rebuild your document only if Word crashes. After you quit normally, these files disappear.
  • Sometimes Word leaves AutoRecover files behind. Just in case, check this folder: YourHomeFolder/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2011 AutoRecovery and try to open any files in there. If you are successful, immediately do a Save As.

AutoBackup: This is a Word feature that keeps a copy of the saved file, although one version behind (this file is named "Backup of..."). If you leave the feature permanently on, within a couple of days you'll be finding "Backups of..." all over your disk. Despite that, it's the best choice, particularly when working in large documents that you cannot afford to lose. However, you still must do manual saves (and no save means no backup).
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Unless you'd already saved the document before attempting to create the PDF, there's nothing you can do at this point, as in general the document would never have made it from RAM to your hard disk.

There could be temporary Virtual Memory file somewhere, in which case your only chance would be a file recovery utility.
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101 people were helped by this reply

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