fixed : where are my Office 2011 AutoRecovery files ?

UPDATE : the updated version of this post for Office 2016 / Office 365 (Word 15 / PowerPoint 15 / Excel 15) can be found here :

fixed : where are my Office 365 AutoRecovery files ?


Question :

I accidentally messed up the Office documents (Word/PowerPoint/Excel) I was working on, and I didn’t save it before, so I wanted to get the auto-saved version from the AutoRecovery-folder as I’ve done before in Office 2008 and 2004.

I forgot where to find the AutoRecovery-folder, so I used Office 2011’s build-in Help-option to get a hint. It told me I would be able to find the folder via this path :

~/Users/username/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2011 AutoRecovery

But when I open that folder I have a “Office 2004 AutoRecovery” and a “Office 2008 AutoRecovery”-folder, but there’s no such folder for Office 2011…

I checked in the Office 2011 Preferences to make sure Auto-saving is switched on, and it is… so where did the folder go ? where are my auto-save documents ?

 

Answer :

You might have guessed : there’s a fault in the Office 2011 Help file. Nowadays, the AutoRecovery-folder is located in an entirely different location on your Mac. The correct path is this :

~/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/Office 2011 AutoRecovery

But there is yet another tiny hurdle to get to it : in the current version of OSX, the user’s Library-folder is a hidden folder. So if you want to access it, the easiest way to do so is :

– in the Finder, click on “Go” in the top menu bar

– when the pulldown menu appears, press the ALT-key on your keyboard (a.k.a. OPTION-key) and an extra option named “Library” will appear in the pulldown menu

– while holding the ALT-key, click on “Library” and your personal (hidden) Library-folder will open in the Finder

– there you can navigate to Application Support–>Microsoft–>Office to find the “Office 2011 AutoRecovery”-folder you are looking for

That’s it.

Enjoy !

😉

Note : It is not clear if this problem is due to OSX 10.9 “Mavericks” or that it is occurring with all installations of Office 2011 for Mac. Either way, the solution is as mentioned above.

UPDATE :

it turns out that there’s a bug in Excel 2011 for Mac : even though the Autosave does save  a file with an .xlsx file extension, it’s not a true .xlsx file ! trying to open it will lead to an “Microsoft cannot open this file”-error. The solution is to change the file extension to either .xlsb (Excel binary format) or .xlb (older Excel backup format), to enable Excel to recognize the file and enable it to open.

[ a big Thank You to Paul Preston for noticing this problem and for Bryan P for posting the solution on Superuser.com ]

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138 thoughts on “fixed : where are my Office 2011 AutoRecovery files ?

  1. Had the same thing happen…excel crashed. Have autosave set to 1 min. Pop up window, like always, asking to send report and open autosaved version…but it opened a blank spreadsheet that I started with…no (auto-saved version behind the file name). Looked in the office 2011 auto recovery file, and it’s not there either. Any ideas?

    • @Paul :

      Thank You for noticing this problem in Excel 2011 !
      Could it be you are experiencing the problem regarding a bug in the file system that prevents the Autorecovery file to be opened ?
      Or is your problem something else ? Maybe you don’t even have any Autorecovery file that’s been saved ?

      I’ve updated the original post with the solution to the faulty file extension – hope this helps.
      😉

    • AutoRecover only prompts when it was a previously SAVED version of a file.

      In Word2010 (I believe in 2007 as well), even if you have an UNSAVED document, and you have a computer failure (ie, power outage), there will still be a recovery file created, provided you have AutoRecover setup (see below).

      NOTE: If you have an UNSAVED document that was lost, you will have to manually open it, you will NOT be prompted to recover it!

      In XP — Navigate to: C:\Documents and Settings\YOUR_USER_NAME\Application Data\Microsoft\Word

      In it will be a bunch of .ASD files (hopefully). You are probably going to be looking for the one called AutoRecovery save of Document1.asd, but you can sort by date/time if you have multiples to find the latest one.

      If there are NO .ASD files in this folder, make sure this is the folder it is set to save to.

      In your ribbon, click File, Options, Save and see if a) AutoRecover is checked and b) Where they are being saved to.

      Hope this helps someone!
      uFlysoft Data Recovery

      • @stevenleeeyan :

        Thanks for the feedback !

        Your info only seems to go for Office 2011 for Windows (since you are referring to XP and C:\ which are definitely Windows-only situations). As far as we’ve experienced, the situation is slightly different for Office 2011 for MacOSX.

        Thanks for your tips anyway.

  2. I experienced a similar problem. My Mac crashed this morning upon awakening. After the reboot, I was asked if I wanted to open the last saved version of the Excel file I had been working on. (I wasn’t given the opportunity to open an AutoRecovered version.) I chose yes, but the file that opened hadn’t captured any of the work I did yesterday.

    I was able to navigate to the Office 2011 AutoRecovery folder. Inside I found a variety of Word docs, one as recent as today, but only one Excel file — from Nov 2013. I checked, and AutoRecover is set in Excel for 10 minutes.

    Any idea where else my Excel AutoRecover files might be hiding? Is there a way to search files (including these Autorecover files) by date? Can one search for the files with the ‘fake’ .xlsx extension? Any help you can offer is greatly appreciated.

    Doug

    • @Doug Williams :

      Thanks for the feedback !
      Sorry to hear about your troubles.

      To search for files within ALL files on your Mac, do this :
      – in the Finder (a.k.a. ‘when you can see your Desktop’) press the CMD + F key combo on your keyboard
      – in the search window that appears, at “Search:” select “This Mac”
      – then click the “Kind” button, and select “Other…”
      – in the window that appears, make sure there are check marks at “File visibility”, “System files” and “Last modified date”
      – then click “Kind” (or whatever is indicated on the button that used to say “Kind”) and adjust it to “File visibility” and set the button behind it to “Visible or invisible”
      – then click the “+”-button on the right side
      – on the next filtering line, change “Kind” to “System files” and set it to “are included”
      (and you might even want to set an extra filtering line “Last modified date” “is within last 1 day(s)”)
      – then in the search field top right, type “.xlsx” or “.xlsb” or “.xlb” and press ENTER
      …that should give you a list of all files on your Mac with that file-extension

      You could also try typing “Autorecovery” in the search field. That should give you a list of all Office 2011 Autorecovery folders available on your Mac. By clicking on them, you could see if any of them contains the Excel autorecovery file you’re looking for.

      Hope this helps.
      😉

      Note : I remember having read somewhere that no autorecovery files will be saved at all until you have saved the file you are working on at least once… I can’t find any info to confirm if that suggestion is true or false however…

      • Thank you a lot you saved me, it is really working, I found all my missing files. Thanks

      • I knew my file was there because I could see it in the save as menu, though was greyed out. When I went to finder, however, the autorecover folder was there but empty, even with “show hidden files” toggled on. Thank you very much for sharing your search settings!

      • I just want to say…a million times over…thank you so much. I had a word document that I thought was gone forever…hours of my life I wouldn’t get back! And with your help…I found it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

      • Mate, I cannot thank you enough. I’ve seen 300 posts and none solved my issue. Yours did. Bloody miracle, and I truly appreciate that people like you take time to share knowledge and help others. Noble.

  3. Thank you for this info! My computer defaulted to saving several files in this folder – and though I knew they were there, had no idea how to access them or how to find the folder!

  4. You are a lifesaver and you don’t even know it. I was about to cry because I had worked on a paper for 8 hours and saved it to the stupid Autorecovery folder. When I couldn’t find it I thought it was lost forever, but then I searched in Google and found this answer. Thanks so much!

    • @Shayla :

      It was a pleasure helping you 😉
      Just to secure your documents even more :
      – make sure you often save your documents manually (so, press the CMD-S key-combo every few minutes when you’re working on an important document… it is really old fashioned, but it’s more reliable than autosave…)
      – be aware that the Excel backup routine appears to be buggy, and a lot of the time Excel doesn’t save any autorecovery file at all…

      Good luck !
      😉

  5. THANK YOU! I had an issue with a Word doc saved multiple times on my mac, and then it literally disappeared. I just finished saving as then nothing. Gone. I searched through everything and even looked through the Library/ApplicationSupport/Microsoft folders only to discover the Office/Office 2011 folder didn’t even exist! Yet I was clearly using the application suite. I used Terminal to discover if the file was ever recorded and low and behold, found a record of it in Library/ApplicationSupport/Microsoft/Office/Office2011 Autorecovery.
    I used your Go search tip to force it to look up ~Library/ApplicationSupport/Microsoft/Office (and hopefully, potentially re-map the pathway to Office). It worked. I found it. THANK YOU.

    Round about way but without your tips I would be losing it right now.

  6. I’m finding Powerpoint doesn’t comply with the above.

    I found the system folder, but it doesn’t seem to have much in it, even though Powerpoint and Word are being used with autosaves.

    I can’t find any autosaved versions, whether searching by .ppt, .pptx, .tmp PPT*.tmp (which one post elsewhere had said it was stored as).
    My partner lost a day’s work and there was no recovery file anywhere. She’s now saving baselines as she goes, with different version numbers to be sure.
    Any ideas?

    • @David :

      Thanks for the feedback.
      Sorry to hear about the loss of your (partner’s) PowerPoint documents.

      One issue you might have, is that you for any recovery version to be saved, it seems essential that you have a first version saved manually…

      Hope this helps you prevent future loss…

      Without any intention of being rude or objurgatory :
      – auto-saves by Time Machine backups might give an extra level of
      – manual ‘old school’ saves by just pressing the CMD + S key combo every time you stop typing for a few seconds might even be the most secure and time saving way of securing your ‘under construction’ work

      Good Luck !

    • @David :

      Sorry to hear you might have lost your files.

      It appears that you need to manually save the first version, and only after you’ve done that, autosaves will be save by any Office application…

      So if you open a new ‘untitled’ document and never manually save any version of it, the autosaved files may not be saved…

      Hope this prevents any problems in the future.

      Good Luck !

  7. I’ve tried all of your suggestions to no avail.
    – in the Finder, click on “Go” in the top menu bar ++ I did this ++

    – when the pulldown menu appears, press the ALT-key on your keyboard (a.k.a. OPTION-key) and an extra option named “Library” will appear in the pulldown menu ++ I did this but no extra option appeared ++ PLEASE HELP ME.

    – while holding the ALT-key, click on “Library” and your personal (hidden) Library-folder will open in the Finder

    – there you can navigate to Application Support–>Microsoft–>Office to find the “Office 2011 AutoRecovery”-folder you are looking for

    • @Katherine Longwell :

      Sorry to hear you can’t find any autorecovery files.

      Aren’t you able to find the “Office 2011 AutoRecovery”-folder ?
      Or did you find the folder, but isn’t there anything in it ?

      …in case of the later, to prevent future loss, you should make sure you do not keep working in a new untiled document,
      as untitled documents may not be autosaved… so, after starting a new Office document, make sure you ‘immediately’ save it manually, and only after that autosaves may be saved…

      Hope this helps, to prevent future losses…

  8. This was so helpful! Thank you so much for this post, which will save me countless hours.

  9. Thank you so very much! You’ve just saved me from having to try to reconstruct about 5 hours of inspired work. I had tried everything, including uninstalling Xtrafinder, uninstalling old versions of Office, running file recovery programs…. Your hidden-folder suggestion was the solution.

    Cheers,
    Karl

  10. My sincere thanks for helping me locate my autorecovery files! You’re a life saver! 🙂

  11. Thanks A lot !!!! i read like 2 or 3 other post, and this one was the only one who actually help me to solve the problem, WITH A SINGLE KEY “ALT”

  12. OMG!!!!! You safe my liiiifeeee! I was crying, and i tried your solution! You’re the beeeeeest!!!!

  13. Oh my God, thank you!!!! I was losing my mind as I couldn’t find the 2011 recovery folder even though the setting is turned on….. I thought I’d just lost 4 hours of work with delivery of the document due to a client is today. You saved my ***. Thanks again.

  14. I lost a powerpoint that I was working on and it popped up as autorecovery…and then it immediately shut down again… I followed all the steps (I think) and I can’t find it anywhere. I found the autorecovery folder and there isn’t anything in it that is recent at all. Help!?

    • @Allyson :

      Sorry to hear you couldn’t find any autosaved PowerPoint files (yet ?)…

      Did you get the note saying there won’t be any autosaved files of any document entitled “Untitled” ?

      It’s unclear why Microsoft decided on not autosaving “Untitled” documents, they might be under the assumption that as long as you don’t (re)name your document your document is not of big importance to you, but it’s something we have to live with (until Microsoft see the light)…

      So… are you sure you have made an initial Save of the PowerPoint presentation you are looking for ?
      If not… there’s no way of recovering your presentation that I know of…
      If you did do that initial Save & Rename, there should be an auto recovered version of your presentation somewhere,
      and I might be able to help you find it…

      Please let me know…
      Good Luck !

      • I’m having the same problem with my power point. i did save it originally, and i can find that version, just not a recovered version.

        i have been searching for hours!!

  15. Thank you so much!! This helped me a lot. Who knew by holding down the alt key the library link would appear…….

  16. Dear sweet Jesus….THANK YOU. I knew the damn excel file didn’t disappear, but I’ll be damned if I couldn’t find it.

    This is why I use apple…and why I really wish I didn’t have to use office.

  17. OHHHH! Such a big help!!! I was about to submit my assessment, then suddenly I can’t find my fileeeeee, I just freaked out. But then, I searched for this one!!!! Thank YOUU!!

  18. Thank you thank you thank you!!! I tried other suggestions to find my paper and thought it was lost forever!!! Stupid Office had eaten it!! But I managed to find it in the layers of hidden folders thanks to your post!!!
    THANK YOU!!!!

  19. Thank you so much, I was looking at a loss of 3 days solid work! Thank you again. All the other different forum posts were useless!

  20. A little late perhaps, but I was working on a powerpoint recently and my Mac crashed. I last saved the document two days prior to the crash but had added information to the powerpoint since then. I cannot find any autosave files despite having auto-save activated prior to the crash. I’ve looked in the folder you mentioned and also looked in that same folder on Time Machine but to no avail. There’s only a blank file that says powerpoint temp with no information in it. Any suggestions? Or is this data lost forever?

    • @Jimmy :

      judging from the amount of problems that PowerPoint generates, it seems like some versions of PowerPoint may still not save any autorecovery-files even if you have autorecovery switched on and you have saved the initial version (under a different name than “untitled”)

      I don’t know a solution for this problem that will always work…
      Upgrading to Office365 and PowerPoint 15 might help…

      Good Luck !

  21. Thank you!!!! I was getting ready to wipe tears away after two different Microsoft reps could not help me. Luckily, I decided to give google one more search and found your post. Your instructions were spot on and saved the day for me. Thank you Mac genius!!

    • @cindy :

      That’s good to hear !
      Thanks for the feedback !

      It’s so strange that Microsoft still hasn’t corrected the faulty info on this in their helpdesk-manuals and their online help-database.

      enjoy !
      😉

  22. I was working on a file that was saved on a remote server that was accessed through VPN. PPT crashed, and when it automatically reopened only a very old version reopened. I tried the search suggested here for my local HD and did not find the autosave file. I tried searching “Shared” which is the server that the original document was saved on, but it’s just spinning forever saying “searching shared”. Is there any hope that a file saved on a remote server would have autorecovery files saved there or somewhere else on my local HD?

    • @Lost-on-the-server :

      That’s an interesting situation… we don’t have any experience with that…
      If you can’t find any autorecovery file on your local HD, you should search the remote server…
      but that might not be that easy…
      our suggestion would be to ask the remote server’s System Administrator… or maybe Microsoft themselves…

      Good Luck !

      • Thanks for your response. My administrator told me that in my situation (using VPN to a work on a file saved on a remote server) autosave does not work. The only solution in the future is to save as a local copy.

      • @Anthony :

        That’s really sad to hear… saving a local copy completely collides with the basic idea behind working on a remote server… maybe the System Administrator should contact Microsoft on how to fix this…

        Good Luck !

  23. Hi,
    I just lost my powerpoint which I spent the afternoon working on. I’ve found the temporary file but I have two problems:
    1. When I add an extension (.pptx or .ppt) the file tries to repair itself, then declares that it’s corrupted and refuses to open
    2. On closer inspection, the last associated time on the info page was around the time I started working, not the time that I lost the work. Does that mean it hasn’t been working all along?

    Interestingly, the last time this happened I hadn’t saved an official version – it was an untitled .pptx – and autorecovery worked perfectly. This time I had already saved it to my disk and now it seems to be lost forever 😦

    I thought that autorecovery saved images of your slides too? is that true? if so, where might I find these? even if I have to retype some stuff it’s far easier than starting again from scratch :/

    thanks!

    • @betsy :

      Thank you for your feedback.
      At this moment, PowerPoint is the most problematic of all Office apps when it comes to autorecovery.

      Things might have changed for the better with te introduction of Office365 and PowerPoint 15, but we haven’t been able to test that thoroughly yet…

      If you can’t get your PowerPoint document back using the directions in the original post, your last hope may be in your TimeMachine-backups…

      Good Luck !

  24. Million thanks. Worked perfectly. Recovered 4 hours of creative writing. Found the folder Autorecover in the hidden folder, ‘Library. ‘ Thank you

  25. Oh my gosh! This was pretty damn close to being literally life-saving! I couldn’t find my blog write-up for a client ANYWHERE, and I had spent an hour and a half researching and writing this blog, so needless to say, I was very upset when it disappeared! Thank you thank you thank you!

  26. Holy crap! After hours of searching for that temp file, I finally found it! Thank you! You’re my new mac hero. Can’t believe it worked. Time for a beer. I wish I could buy you one! Many many thanks for sharing the knowledge.

  27. Oh my god you have NO IDEA how much you just saved my life!!!! thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  28. Fabulous walk-through and help with the updated version of OS X- could’t find the library for the life of me!

  29. Hey man! Thanks! Saved my buddy and me a huge ton of grief and re-writing! Really appreciate this gem of information my friend!

  30. Thank you so much! I was so upset and all of my searches for solutions yielded no recovery. Following this has restored hours and hours of my work at a new job. I really cannot thank you enough!

  31. Thanks a lot Paul Preston and Bryan P….!!!…your help saved me a lot of re-doing time….

  32. THANK YOU!!! My Covering Letter is successfully recovered, maybe I’ll even get the job now 😉

  33. i just want to say thank you for literally saving me so much time!! i was literally crying until i came across your suggestion!!

  34. I wonder if you might be able to help. Just lost 9 hours of work on excel.

    I have managed to get onto the hidden library folder, after pressing the pesky alt button, then I click on application support, but in that folder there is no folder called Microsoft.. what can this mean??? And where are my recovered folders?

    I am tearing my hair out/about to cry. Please help!

    • @Charlotte :

      Sorry to hear you are running into a problem…
      Maybe you’ve already solved this (sorry for my delayed reply), if not, can you please tell me what version of Office you are using and what version of MacOSX / OSX / macOS ?

      the “Office 2004 AutoRecovery” and “Office 2008 AutoRecovery”-folder can be found here :
      ~/Users/username/Documents/Microsoft User Data/
      and the “Office 2011 AutoRecovery”-folder can be found here in OSX 10.9 “Mavericks” and newer :
      ~/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/

      Note #1 :
      if you never saved file you were working on (and it was still named “untitled”) there will probably be no recovery file saved anywhere on your Mac… (as you never initiated any save of the document…)

      Note #2 :
      if you find your recovered Excel-file and it has the .xlsx file extension, you will probably need to change that (rename it) to a .xlsb file extension to get a document you can (re)open in Excel

      Hope this helps – if not let me know, maybe I can help you figure out a solution (no guarantee though…)

    • @Charlotte :

      UPDATE : the problem you are encountering might have to do with the fact that you are using Office 2016 instead of Office 2011
      you can check which version of Excel you are using by clicking on the word “Excel” in the upper menu bar and then clicking on “About Excel” in the popup list ; if you see “version 15.xx” in the “About Excel”-window that opens, you are running Office 2016 for Mac (not Office 2011 for Mac) ; in that case the solution to your problem can be found in this updated post :
      https://macmanus.nl/2017/03/07/fixed-where-are-my-office-2016-autorecovery-files/

      hope this helps 😉

  35. Hello and thank you so much for the guidance!!!! I am stuck, and can’t seem to locate the Microsoft Folder. Once I get click “go” and press “ALT” aka “Option” key I click “library> Application Support and that’s where I get stuck. Microsoft Folder doesn’t seem to exist there… Can you please help? Thank you!!!!!

    • @Tamara Imperial :

      Thanks for the feedback.
      That’s odd to hear.
      Can you please tell me what version of Office you are using and what version of MacOSX / OSX / macOS ?

      the “Office 2004 AutoRecovery” and “Office 2008 AutoRecovery”-folder can be found here :
      ~/Users/username/Documents/Microsoft User Data/
      and the “Office 2011 AutoRecovery”-folder can be found here in OSX 10.9 “Mavericks” and newer :
      ~/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/
      and as far as my current knowledge goes the autorecovery-folder for the latest version of Office 365 (Word 15 / PowerPoint 15 / Excel 15) is still located in the same place :
      ~/Users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/

      …but maybe what you have installed on your Mac is so new & clean that it’s somewhere new, please tell me your version of Office and of OSX/macOS and I can have a look if I can find a new location to search for

      Note #1 :
      if you never saved file you were working on (and it was still named “untitled”) there will probably be no recovery file saved anywhere on your Mac… (as you never initiated any save of the document…)

      Note #2 :
      if you find your recovered Excel-file and it has the .xlsx file extension, you will probably need to change that (rename it) to a .xlsb file extension to get a document you can (re)open in Excel

      Hope this helps – if not let me know, maybe I can help you figure out a solution (no guarantee though…)

      • I think you’re probably right, I recently updated it! My versions: macOS Sierra 10.12.3 and microsoft word 15.18

        Are they too fresh and new? I did save the document, and remember clearly. It was an interview with answers and I remember saving it to use for my paper, and I accidentally saved my paper under the same name as the interview questions/answers and replaced them!! Ugh. Okay well now that you have a run down of the situation and more info about my system I really hope you can point me in the right direction. Thank you so so much again!

      • @Tamara Imperial :

        I think I have found the solution to your problem ;
        there appears to be a new location of Word 15’s AutoRecovery in Office 2016 for Mac :
        ~/Users/username/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery/

        for PowerPoint 15 the location is :
        ~/Users/username/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.PowerPoint/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery/

        and for Excel 15 it is :
        ~/Users/username/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Excel/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery/

        please send feedback on whether this was of any help 😉

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