How to Restore Previous Version of Excel File on Mac

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I have been working with an Excel spreadsheet (Excel for Mac 2011 14.1.0) and obviously I must have overwritten some parts and saved the document. How do I restore a previous version of an excel file on a Mac?

In other cases, a spreadsheet seems to just disappear entirely from your Mac. Luckily, macOS and Microsoft Office both include their own basic version-control systems, making it possible to view and recover previous versions. Even if both of those tools are unable to find the version you need, it’s possible to use third-party software to restore the previous version of an Excel file on your Mac. In this article, you’ll learn how to use all three techniques to restore an old version of an Excel spreadsheet.

Part 1: Restore Excel Files on Mac With Time Machine

The Mac operating system itself includes tools that make it easy to revert to old versions of files. Many Mac-native applications integrate with Apple’s built-in versioning system, which allows you to view and recover old versions of files. Unfortunately, Excel does not integrate with this particular system. However, if you use Time Machine to back up your Mac, you can use it to restore an old version of your Excel file. Here’s how:

  • 1. Navigate to the lof cation oyour Excel file in Finder and choose Enter Time Machine in the menu bar.

  • 2. Go through the versions presented and find the one that you want to restore to.

  • 3. Select the Restore button.

  • restore past versions of excel file on Mac - Restore With Time Machine

While this fix is the most convenient way to restore an old version of an Excel file (or any other kind of file), not everyone uses Time Machine to back up their Mac. Luckily, there are other easy techniques, which you’ll learn about next.

Part 2: Restore Previous Version of Excel File on macOS with the Built-in Tool

Even if Microsoft Office doesn’t integrate directly with Apple’s versioning framework, it does include its own version control system, intended to restore files lost during power outages or computer crashes. Follow these steps:

  • 1. To look through Office’s backups, start by opening the Excel file in question and click File in the menu bar. Browse to Restore > Restore to Last Saved to Recovering.

  • 2. Find the spreadsheet version that you need to restore in the list presented.

  • 3. You can choose to either click the Restore button or hold down the Option key and click the Restore button. If you hold down Option, you can click Restore a Copy and restore your old version without overwriting the current version.

recover past versions of excel file on Mac - Built-in Tool

Office’s built-in versioning system works well in many cases. However, it isn’t perfect: if you can’t find the right Excel file at all, it won’t be able to help you. Additionally, Excel doesn’t take snapshots very frequently, so the correct version might not be available. Fortunately, even if neither of the previous two solutions are able to recover the particular version you want, there’s a third option: AnyRecover.

Part 3: Recover Lost or Deleted Excel Files on Mac with Software

When nothing else can find the Excel file version you need, AnyRecover can help. It’s a tool that searches your hard drive for remnants of missing files and pieces them together into a usable format. If your Excel file is truly nowhere to be found, or if you completely overwrote a spreadsheet with something else, AnyRecover Mac Data Recovery can oftentimes find the entire file intact.

AnyRecover Mac Data Recovery

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Features of iMyFone AnyRecover:        

Perfectly suited for recovering lost or accidentally deleted spreadsheets.

It has a free trial so you can make sure whether it will work with your files before purchasing.

Work with macOS version 10.9 and above, and it works with MacBook Pro, iMac Pro, MacBook Air, MacBook, iMac and more.

Restore a variety of document types aside from Excel, like PDF files, zip files, Word documents, and much more.

Recover the previous version of Excel file in Microsoft Excel for Mac 2011, 2016 and 2020.

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Here’s how to use AnyRecover to recover deleted or lost Excel files on Mac:

Step 1: Download and install the Mac version of AnyRecover. Once it’s installed, start the program. Select the folder or hard drive that your Excel file was in and click the Start button to begin your scan.

AnyRecover Excel File Recovery - select a location

Step 2: AnyRecover must comb through the entire folder or storage device to look for deleted or overwritten files, so it can take a long time for this process to complete, depending on the size of your hard drive. You should begin to see results appear soon after starting the scan.

AnyRecover Excel File Recovery - scan selected drive

Step 3: Once the scan is complete, take a look at the results. You may have to look through a large number of deleted or overwritten files to find the one you want. As soon as you find the Excel file you want, click Recover and choose a place on your Mac to save the recovered Excel files.

AnyRecover Excel File Recovery - scanned files preview and recover

Bonus Tip: How Can I Avoid Losing an Important Excel File on Mac Next Time?

Nearly everyone has overwritten, lost, or corrupted a file in some way before. Some people have developed effective strategies to protect themselves against file loss. A popular technique is using Save As to save to a new file name before making a significant change. This way, if the change needs to be reverted, you can simply open the old version.

Additionally, if you haven’t set up Time Machine backups yet, now would be a great time to do so. In addition to safeguarding your data from accidental deletions and overwrites, Time Machine can also allow you to restore your entire Mac’s hard drive if you were to lose or break your computer. In this configuration, your Mac will constantly back up your files to the hard drive in an external storage device.


Losing an Excel file that you’ve been working on for hours or days hurts. Luckily, the version control features built into macOS, Excel, and a third-party software like AnyRecover make it easy for you to view and restore previous versions of Excel files on your Mac. Even if you didn’t plan ahead with your own version control strategy, it’s possible to restore an old version when you make a mistake. After recovering your file, make a plan to prevent it from happening in the future, either by separating versions into different files or by taking advantage of your Mac’s powerful backup capabilities.

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By Simon Marcus , to Document Recovery

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

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