How to Recover Unsaved/Lost/Previous Version/Deleted Excel File on Mac

|by Dodson, Updated on Jan 4, 2022

While working with Excel sometimes we forget to save the files or want to get back to the previous version. In some other cases, Excel files get lost due to unprecedented system shut down, or the files get deleted accidentally. If you have lost an Excel file on your Mac due to one of the above-mentioned reasons and want to get back it then you have come to the right place. Here in this article, I have provided working ways to restore deleted Excel files, unsaved and previous Excel files on macOS.

Part 1. Best Way to Recover Permanently Deleted Excel File on Mac

Among all the situations where recovery of an Excel file is required, the most common one is accidentally deleting Excel files. There are many ways one can retrieve deleted Excel files on Mac, but the easiest and less time-consuming way is using Data Recovery software.

There are many software's available in the market with the best being iBatsoft Data Recovery for Mac. I have tried most of the other Excel recovery software for Mac claiming to be the best, but no one even came close to the usability of iBatsoft. It is equipped with a plethora of exciting features. Below are some of the top features of iBatsoft.

Your Best Software for Recover Permanently Deleted Excel File on Mac

4256 Users
  • The iBatsoft Data Recovery software for Mac supports recovery for almost every popular file type including Excel files.
  • It works on almost any scenario whether you want to recover deleted Excel files from Mac, Emptied Trash recovery, or unexpected system crash.
  • To recover Excel files on Mac better, It has two scanning modes. The Quick scan is a faster way to restore data whereas Deep Scan is to retrieve files that you are not able to find by Quick scan.
  • The software is compatible with any storage device you might have better inbuilt Mac storage, USB flash drive, Hard Disk, SSD or Memory card.
Download for macOS Download for Windows

Now that I have listed all the top features of iBatsoft Data Recovery for Mac, it's time to provide a step-by-step guide on how you can find permanently deleted Excel files from Mac with it.

  1. Click the DOWNLOAD button to free download the software. After downloading the installation file complete the installation process. Once the iBatsoft Data Recovery for Mac is installed on your Mac, open it.
  2. On the first screen you will get the option to select the location of the deleted Excel files and tap on Scan.
  3. As you have only selected document file types depending on the amount of data you have stored on your Mac iBatsoft will take a few minutes to complete the scan. Once the scan is completed go through the results. Select the Excel files that you want to recover and click on Save.

It's that easy to recover deleted Excel files on Mac using iBatsoft Data Recovery for Mac. Literally, it's a three-step process: select the file type, select the drive to scan and lastly get the files back.

Part 2. How to Restore Unsaved Excel File on Mac

There are occasions when we are not looking to recover deleted excel files but to restore unsaved excel files. I have provided three different working ways you can recover unsaved Excel files on Mac.

Method 1. Recover Unsaved Excel File from the Recent List

Sometimes we start working on an Excel file and completely forget to save it. And when we are already on the next file somehow remember that the last file was unsaved. It's still not too late the unsaved excel file can be recovered from the recent list. Follow the below steps to find the unsaved Excel file.

  1. Stop editing on the current Excel file that you are working on.
  2. Hover over the top left corner of your screen to open the Menu bar. Under the Menu bar, tap on File. Look for Open Recent and select it.
  3. You will see all the recent Excel files that you were working on. For more recent files press Shift+Command+O on your keyboard and the recent list will appear. Select the file that you left unsaved and open it.
  4. Now when you have opened the unsaved file press the Save or Save As... option immediately to save the file so you don't end up losing your entries.

It is easy to recover unsaved Excel files from the recent list. Just go to the recent list, open the unsaved file, and tap on the Save option.

Method 2. Recover Unsaved Excel Files from Mac Temporary Folder

If you tried recovering the unsaved Excel file from the Recent list but were not able to. You can try recovering it from the Mac temporary folder. When we start working on a file Mac creates a temporary file in the temporary folder. By default, you will not be able to find this folder, it is sort of a hidden folder. Follow the below steps to get back unsaved excel files from the Mac temporary folder.

  1. Go to Finder and head over to Applications.
  2. Under Applications find utilities, open it, and look for Terminal. You can also use Spotlight by pressing the Command+Space bar to search for the terminal.
  3. Once you have found Terminal, open it, and on the command line screen enter this command open "$TMPDIR" and press enter.
  4. Terminal will open a Temporary Folder for you. Under the temporary folder look for Temporaryitems.
  5. Open Temporaryitems and the unsaved Excel file will be there. The name of the file will be something like ‘~Excel Work File’ and the file extension will be .tmp. If you have more than one unsaved excel file, go through them, and pick the one that you want to get back.
  6. After finding the file copy it to a normal like on your Desktop or Downloads folder. Change the file extension from .tmp to the usual excel file extension.xls or .xlsx.

This is how you can restore unsaved excel files from a Mac temporary folder.

Method 3. Recover Unsaved Excel File from AutoRecover

Some of the Microsoft Office applications such as Excel, Word come with an AutoRecover feature. It helps in recovering files in a system crash situation. The AutoRecover feature saves a copy of the file automatically in the background. By default, it is tuned to save a copy of the file you are working on every 10 minutes. This feature is lifesaving to recover unsaved excel files if your system shuts down suddenly.

Suppose your Mac faced an unexpected shutdown. Next time you will open an Excel app the AutoRecover feature will automatically find your work and open it as it was before. You should save the file as soon as possible without closing the Excel app or further editing. If for some reason auto recovery didn't show the file you were working on. Follow the below steps to find the unsaved file using Finder.

  1. Open Finder on your Mac.
  2. Go to the Menu bar and tap on Go.
  3. Under Go look for the Go To Folder option. Alternatively, you can press Shift+Command+G to open Go To Folder directly.
  4. Enter /Users/<username>/Library/Containers/ Support/Microsoft. Make sure to replace <username> with your own username.
  5. On the next screen you will see the unsaved Excel sheet move to a familiar location. Now you have recovered an unsaved Excel file using the AutoRecover feature.

Part 3. How to Recover Old/Previous/Overwritten Excel File on Mac

It's not just the unsaved Excel file each time that we want to get back. Sometimes we need to find old, previous, or overwritten Excel files. The two methods I have mentioned below work perfectly to restore old Excel files and overwritten Excel files.

Method 1. Recover Old Excel File on Mac with Time Machine

Each computer needs to have a backup system to keep a full backup of all the important files. This is necessary as there are many possible reasons one can lose access to highly important files. On Mac running computers the backup mechanism is called Time Machine.

As the name suggests It is a time machine that takes you to the past not in the real world but in the world of computers. If you have enabled Time Machine backup, then you can always restore to retrieve old Excel files on Mac.

  1. Attach your SSD or HDD in which you take Time machine backups.
  2. Open the folder where the deleted Excel files were located.
  3. Hover on the top right corner of your Mac screen to find the Time machine. If there is no Time Machine icon in the menu bar, open system preferences and you will find Time Machine there in the bottom right corner.
  4. Once you have opened the Time Machine you will find all the backups. Either scroll from the right edge of your screen or use arrows to go through them.
  5. Step 5: When you find the old Excel File you were looking for, select and tap on the Recover button. If you want to get back more than one old Excel file, select all of them and tap on Recover.

This is how you can recover old excel files on Mac with Time Machine. It is very simple to get your old Excel files back if you have a time machine backup. It works even if you have emptied your trash bin.

Method 2. Find Overwritten Excel File on Mac with Previous Version Feature

Suppose you have been given to work on an Excel file. You start editing it and make some changes only to find the changes are not in the right direction. Now you are in a situation where the original file is overwritten, and the current version is not something you want.

In this situation, you will want to find an overwritten Excel file on Mac. It is possible through the Previous version feature. Sounds interesting, follow the below steps to recover overwritten Excel files on Mac with the previous version feature.

  1. Open the current version of the Excel file in question. Hover on the top left corner of your Mac screen to find Menu options.
  2. From the menu bar, tap on File, on the next screen among all different options tap on Restore.
  3. Under Restore, tap Restore to last save to recover. Now you will see all the versions of the excel file. Go through the previous versions there might be a huge list if you have edited the file extensively.
  4. Once you have got to the mark where you decide this is the version, I want to restore click on Restore and the original version will be back.
  5. In case you want to restore the original version while keeping the current version, you will have to press and hold the Option and tap on Restore a Copy. A copy of the version you want to restore will be saved on your Mac while leaving the edited version as it is.

By following the above steps, you can recover previous/overwritten excel files on your Mac. All you need to do is open the file, go through the different versions, and restore the one you want to keep.

Part 4. How to Retrieve Excel Files on Mac from Trash

Have you accidentally deleted Excel files on Mac? No worries, you can restore them within a few minutes and follow simple steps. The way I am going to share is to recover deleted Excel files on Mac from the trash.

One of the easiest ways to recover deleted Excel files on Mac is by looking for them in Trash. Every file we delete on Mac first goes to Trash Folder and after 30 days it gets automatically deleted unless you manually do not empty the Trash Bin. If you haven't emptied trash recently and deleted some Excel files you can find them in the Trash Bin and get them back without any hassle. Follow the below steps to get the files recovered on Mac from Trash.

  1. Open Dock on your Mac and look for the Trash Bin icon in the far-left corner.
  2. Open Trash Bin and go through all the different files that are there in the bin. Note: Deleted files remain for 30 days in the Trash Bin or until you manually empty the bin.
  3. In case you find the deleted Excel file. Select and then right-click on it. On the context menu look for the Put Back option and tap on it. The deleted Excel file will be recovered, and you can find it in the exact same folder it was before getting deleted. If you want to recover multiple excel files select all of them, right-click and tap on Put Back.

By following the above steps, you can easily recover Deleted Excel files from Mac Trash Bin. You should be checking out your Trash Bin before digging deeper into the recovery process.

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