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 :

~/Users/username/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Word/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery/

for PowerPoint 15 the correct path is :

~/Users/username/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.PowerPoint/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery/

and for Excel 15 the correct path is :

~/Users/username/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Excel/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery/

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 ZandorSmith.nl) or Funter (by Nektony.com) or HideSwitch (by CreativeCag.com)

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 Superuser.com and to Rich Michaels for posting his updated solution on answers.microsoft.com ]

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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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