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 in the old days of Office 2008 and 2004.

But now I am using Office 365, and I can’t find the AutoRecovery folder anywhere… where is it ?


Answer :

You might have guessed : nowadays, the AutoRecovery-folder is located in an entirely different location on your Mac.

If you are running Office 2011 for Mac (whether as part of Office 365 or not) the correct path to the AutoRecovery-folder is this :

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

And if you are running Office 2016 for Mac (whether or not as part of Office 365) the correct path to the Word 15‘s AutoRecovery-folder(s) is :


for PowerPoint 15 the correct path is :


and for Excel 15 the correct path is :


BEWARE : it’s not straight-forward to get to this folder in recent/current versions of OSX and macOS, as 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 further using the paths listed above to find the AutoRecovery-folder you’re looking for

That’s it.

Enjoy !


NOTE # 1 :

It is advisory to also switch on the “file overwrite protection” (or “double backup”) option as it stores the previous version of the file you are working on. In Word, you turn this feature on from Word –> Preferences –> Save and then mark the “Always create a backup copy” check box. This way, whenever you click “Save”, a backup version is made of the previous/stored version before it overwrites the stored version of the file… so with it turned on, you at least have one prior version of your file.

NOTE #2 :

If you do not see the autosave file you were expecting to find in the AutoRecovery-folder, you might need a ‘show hidden files’-app to find it. Especially Excel-autosave-files tend to be hidden.

There are various ‘show hidden files’-apps :

The FREE one in the Mac App Store is Show Hidden Files: best finder but you could also use another FREE app like Hidden Files Toggle (by or Funter (by or HideSwitch (by

Just beware! that you can mess up OSX or macOS entirely is you accidentally delete or alter files that are hidden in regular use !

[ a big Thank You to thekurrgan for discovering this and posting this find here ]

NOTE #3 :

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 and to Rich Michaels for posting his updated solution on ]

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23 thoughts on “fixed : where are my Office 365 AutoRecovery files ?

  1. Pingback: fixed : where are my Office 2011 AutoRecovery files ? |

  2. This article saved my life!! Thought I lost 2+ hours worth of work and none of the other articles explained it in this level of detail. Found it and am so relieved. Thank you!!

      • I lost 11 hours of work because I thought I had autosaved but hadn’t. After several options from others users, yours was the solution that worked and I was able to find my lost file! Thank you so much!!!!!

    • @Laura Clemons :

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Why would you want to change the default autosave folder location ?
      The autosave folder is not to be used for anything else than autosaved versions of your ‘in the works’ Office docs.
      Autosave files are irrelevant in daily use, they only become important when Office crashes or something like that.

      You should save your regular Office docs wherever you like on your Mac, preferably somewhere in your Documents folder or on your Desktop.

      enjoy 😉

      • Why would you want to change the default autosave folder location? Because my Mac crashes all the time and it’s really difficult to locate the hidden folders every time. If I could set the backup file autosave location it would be glorious.

      • @Laura Clemons :

        If that is your problem, I would suggest another solution :
        make an alias of the autosave folder, and place that alias in your Documents folder

        hope this helps 😉
        enjoy !

  3. Also, you stated: “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)”.
    What are the implications of this file format versus .xls or .xlsx?

    • @Laura Clemons :

      Thanks for the feedback.
      .xls-files are Excel files formatted in the old Excel file format that can be read by any version go Excel
      .xlsx-files are Excel files formatted in the newer XML-based 2007 Excel file format and can only be read by Excel versions from Office 2007 and newer

      since the release of the .xlsx-format in 2007 was over a decade ago, using it shouldn’t be a problem for any currently used PC or Mac running Excel
      so, if you didn’t do so already : start saving your Excel files in .xlsx-format

      enjoy 😉

  4. I read about ten aticles before bumping with this one, which explains correctly the hidden folder thing. Thanks for helping me recover 2 hours of work.
    Thanks a lot from Argentina, muchas gracias!

  5. This happened to me and none of these options proved effective. I was working on a document I had shared through 365 with a colleague. The document suddenly crashed with an error message that says “Hmmm, that address doesn’t look right.” Closing that, Word disappeared. When I reloaded, the document was gone. Not in Onedrive or in any other backup folder. I’m told there is a glitch somewhere between 365 and Mac, but the document seems to have vanished completely. Microsoft support was anything but. I fear I’m completely out of a whole day’s work, unless anyone else has an idea. I’m done with Microsoft. Back to Google docs. Sigh.

    • @KC :

      Sorry to hear.
      Do you have TimeMachine backups active on your Mac ?
      If you’ve been working on this all day, it just might be that some TimeMachine backups have backuped the document that you were working on…

      Good Luck !

  6. It really worked for the problem I had! Powerpoint constantly opened the same recovery file and couldnt make it stop. I deleted the files in the address the article said and I dont have the issue any more.

    Thanks for the support!

    • @Lucien Dantuma :

      Thanks for your feedback !

      The path you have found for the location of the autorecovery-file in Excel 16.21.1 is :
      /Users//Library/Containers/ Support/Microsoft//((Autorecovered-)).xlsb

      Thank you for clarifying this, but I cannot confirm your finding using Excel 16.22.
      Could it be that things have changed with the introduction of the Microsoft Error Reporting application that automatically jumps into action when Excel unexpectedly quits (or crashes) to recover your file ?

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