[2021] Top 5 Way to Recover Unsaved/Deleted Excel File on Mac

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Unforeseen accidents like unexpected shutting down and malware attack can happen while we're working on Excel spreadsheet and many people may get fret about the data loss, i.e. the Excel files get lost. But don't worry, there are still ways to recover the unsaved as well as deleted Excel files. Now read on to learn more about the effective methods and try them yourselves.

Part 1: Can an unsaved Excel file be recovered?

YES, Of course. Getting back unsaved Excel files is definitely possible. Unsaved Excel files can be recovered either from the temporary folder of your Excel worksheet or the AutoRecover folder. Both methods work for various versions of Excel on Mac including Excel for Microsoft 365 for Mac, Excel 2019 for Mac, Excel 2016 for Mac, Excel for Mac 2011.

Method 1. Recover Unsaved Excel Files From Mac Temporary Folder

Step 1: On Mac, Go to Applications -> Utilities -> Terminal.


Step 2: Once the Terminal opens, type "open $TMPDIR" and press the return key to open the temporary folder.

Step 3: Navigate through all the folders and select the folder with the name "TemporaryItems".


Step 4: Find the unsaved file you need under the "TemporaryItems" folder and then restore it.


Not all unsaved excel files can be found in the temporary folder.

Method 2. Recover Unsaved Excel File From AutoRecover

AutoRecover is a wonderful feature available in some office applications which attempts to recover unsaved Excel file on Mac in the event of a program or system crash. It resists risks of data loss by regularly saving a copy of the file in the background.

Step 1: Click on Finder, then press the return key on your Mac.

Step 2: Once you've done the above steps, type"/Users/username/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.Excel/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery" and click the "Go" button to open up Excel's AutoRecovery folder.

Step 3: Find the unsaved Excel file you need, then recover it to another folder on your Mac.



This method requires that you save the Excel file initially. It won't work if you haven't saved the Excel sheet once.

Bonus: How to Configure the AutoRecover Feature

Although AutoRecovery is a built-in feature that is turned on by default on Mac, you might still need to check and configure it to make sure everything is set without any mistake. See the steps below:

Step 1: From the menu bar of Excel, select "Preference".

Step 2: In the Privacy and Sharing section, click on "Save".

Step 3: Check "Save AutoRecover info".

Step 4: Then enter/adjust the frequency with which you want AutoRecover to save files.

configure autorecover

Part 2. How to Recover Deleted/Lost Excel File on Mac

If you have deleted your Excel files by accident or lost them due to some reason, there are 3 ways to get them back.

Method 1. Recover Deleted Excel File on Mac From Trash

The most direct and easiest way to recover deleted Excel files is to looking for them in the Trash. All files in the Trash remain there until the folder is emptied, which can happen either automatically after 30 days or manually.

Step 1: Double-click the icon to open Trash.

Step 2: Search for and locate the Excel file you want to recover. Right-click it and select "Put back" to restore it.

recover deleted excel from trash

Method 2. Recover Deleted Excel File on Mac Using AnyRecover

If your Excel files gets deleted permanently, Trash cannot help you anymore and you need to find an alternative. AnyRecover for Mac is a data recovery tool designed to enable users recover lost data from Mac. Whatever the situation under which your Excel files got lost is, this software is powerful enough to help you out with just a few clicks. Thanks to the deep-scan feature and unique data recovery algorithm, AnyRecover recovers lost data with an extremely high success rate and at a fast rate.


1,000,000 + Downloads

Capable of recovering lost Excel files due to various reasons: accidental deletion, emptied Mac Trash, virus attack, Mac OS X upgrade or reinstallation and more.

Supports 1000+ file types recovery, including photos, videos, office documents, audios and emails.

Recovers your data without overwriting original data. It's 100% safe to use.

Fully compatible with the latest Mac OS and all Excel versions.

Free trial is available and every user can scan, preview and recover 3 files for free.

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The Steps to Recover Deleted/Lost Excel Files on Mac with AnyRecover:

Step 1: Download, install and launch AnyRecover on your Mac. Select a location from which you want to recover the Excel files and click the "Scan" button.

select location mac

Step 2: AnyRecover will then begin an all-round and deep scan on your selected location. You just need to wait patiently for a moment.

scanning selected drive

Step 3: When the scan is complete, you can preview the files first, choose what to recover and click on "Recover".

Method 3. Recover Deleted Excel File on Mac With Time Machine

Time Machine is another option to recover deleted/lost Excel files on Mac. But you need to note that this method works only if you have the corresponding backup data of the lost Excel files.

Step 1: Connect your Time Machine backup disk to your Mac.

Step 2: Open the folder that contained the deleted Excel file. Click the Time Machine icon in the Menu Bar and choose Enter Time Machine.

Step 3: Browse all the files using the Timeline or Up and Down arrows to find the Excel file you need exactly. Select and click "Restore".

time machine folder


If you have accidentally closed an Excel file without saving it on Mac or deleted it by mistake, or Mac shutting down causes your Excel files to get lost, don't panic yet. After reading the guide, you now learn about various methods to recover unsaved/deleted Excel files, among which AnyRecover for Mac is probably the best choice as it provodes an all-in-one solution to get the job done efficiently. Try it and gets back your lost Excel files in an instant!

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By Simon Marcus , to Document Recovery

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

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