How to Recover Word Docs When Your Mac Shuts Down With No Warning

The AutoRecovery mystery solved in one easy-to-follow fix.

L.L. Kirchner


Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

As a freelancer, I am my own tech support. Which is one way of saying I can’t tell you how this works in other circumstances, like if you have a PC. What I do know is that piecing this solution was far more convoluted than it had to be, but in the end saved my ass.

So neither of us has to lose our precious work or time, here’s the fix.

The problem: the beachball of death

I was working on Word in my MacBook when suddenly keychain password requests started popping up. This has happened before, so I tried to hit save but was foiled by the spinning beachball.

After shutting down all open windows except Word to save memory, in hopes I might save my doc, Word finally shut down for me.

Most of the time Word when quits it’s not so problematic. There’s an AutoSave feature that runs in the background even if I don’t occasionally remember to hit save. Not this time.

When I reopened the doc, the entire day’s work was gone. The solutions I found were incredibly confusing and did not close the loop on fixing this problem. So here, I hope, is a simple and complete solution for finding where recovered docs are hiding on your Mac.

Here’s how I fixed it with AutoRecovery.

  1. The path I found to follow didn’t work using the folders visible from the desktop window search bars or spotlight, because AutoRecovery is a hidden folder. But in trying to figure out how to access it, I found the following path. This was critical later, so I’ll show it here:
  • /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/com.Microsoft/Data/Library/Preferences/AutoRecovery

2. To find hidden folders, start from the desktop menu, select “Go,” then:

>>Go to folder

>>>Then the path popped up.

Author screenshot. L: desktop menu. R: the window that appears when you click “go to folder.”



L.L. Kirchner

I write entertaining stories that sneak up on you. Florida Girls, my new novel, comes out May 28! Stay abreast of it all at