How to recover a document saved to Office 2011 AutoRecovery

Recently I was writing an article for a client, and 20 minutes before deadline, I went to upload the file. And it was not there.

I looked in the recent documents file. Nothing.

I searched in Finder… nothing.

I obsessively looked through every folder I could see… still nothing. Yet I knew it was there because I saved it several times in order to avoid the very action I was taking now! And I could not find it anywhere. It was like it had never existed.

Half-writing the article in my head again while I fruitlessly looked through the entire contents of my computer, (I SO did not want to have to start from scratch again) I remembered that the folder option it had saved to was strange – an document recovery file of some sort. I only briefly glanced at it, unconcerned, figuring I would do a search for the filename when the time came.

Only if it is saved in the AutoRecovery folder, it does not appear in the search results. And I did not know that.

I searched for “document recovery” in my directory and found nothing. I Googled “searching for lost document saved in document recovery” and found a bunch of things that didn’t help. I was wasting time and beginning to worry.

I tried to look at the commands that directed where Word sent lost documents in order for them to be recovered again, and couldn’t find a thing. And then I remembered if I clicked ‘save’ on a new document, it would tell me the name of the file it was automatically sent to – and it was “Office 2011 AutoRecovery”.

You bastard!

You bastard!

BINGO! I thought, and searched Finder for Office 2011 AutoRecovery and up it came! Only the FOLDER WAS EMPTY. As empty as my hopes and dreams at that moment.

No Library. WTF.

No Library. WTF.

Turning to trusty Google again, I typed in “saved to office 2011 autorecovery” and was sent (thankfully) to this page that described step-by-step instructions to find a document saved into that file that looks like it has vanished without a trace. Only I couldn’t get past step two – after clicking on Finder, and then Go, I couldn’t find the next option of Library. Little did I know that the Library option is hidden if you are using OS X Mountain Lion, which I only realised after reading one of the comments to the original post. Only they didn’t tell me how to unhide it.

Back to Google I went (what would I do without you!), I typed in “where is library in mountain lion?” and was directed to this page about how to reveal your Library folder. WHY IS THIS SO HARD?! Why is Library hidden? Gah.

Anyway, it turns out after you have clicked on “Go”, you need to hold down the Option button for Library to reveal itself. It will disappear again if you take your finger off. I followed the rest of the instructions and finally found my file. Sitting there in computer Siberia, hidden away from regular Joes like me just trying to write stuff. Holy Jebus.

So, TL;DR :

how to recover a document saved to Office 2011 AutoRecovery:

Click Finder > Go > Hold down the Option key and choose Library > Application Support > Microsoft > Office > Office 2011 AutoRecovery.


May this save you from a similar heart attack in the future.




  1. The Plumbette says

    Crap!! I would have been stressed and worried as all heck if this happened to me! At least you can pass this knowledge on now for others who find themselves in the same position.

  2. says

    Another thing we (using the Royal we here) learned the hard way was to never work on an assignment saving to your USB as you go … especially a 50-page Year 12 maths assignment … it can easily corrupt. Thank the Google Gods for finding how to fix that one too!

  3. Svetlana Abramenko says

    You are my hero!!! Got a few grey hair, but I found it! Nothing worked until I read this. I felt so desperate. Thank you

  4. Shain says

    I had the heart attack, but it sure did save me! I ran a disk recovery program and saw the file sitting in the auto recovery folder, just no idea how to access it.
    Thank you soo much!

  5. Steph says

    Thank you soooo much! I had read the article with the step by step recovery information, but I couldn’t find “Library” and I was freaking out! Then I found your website and it saved me!

  6. Phillip Dinis says

    Yup. Thank you very much!
    Some computer guru at Apple is laughing about how he/she hid Library under the option key.

  7. Susan Stewart says

    Thank you so much! This exact thing happened to me yesterday and I was so mad because I could not find it anywhere and thought I was going to have to re-write it. Thank you!!!!

  8. Jeffery McWhorter says

    This just happen to me and I was pulling out the hair that I do not have trying to find my file….Thank you sooooooooooooooo much!

  9. kseahox says

    Oh my gosh. Bless you. Why do they make this so difficult?? I found the same instructions, but the “option” step threw me off. I stayed up late last night working on a spreadsheet only to find it missing this morning. THANK YOU!!

  10. Mark says

    I really am thankful to you, thank you, I am a 3rd year law student, my computer crashed and half of my work of an 4000 words essay was gone, but you helped me recovered it! thank you <3

  11. Irfan Gul says

    SAME EXACT THING HAPPENED TO ME! I figured they were in this this folder but the files just wouldn’t show. Did all sorts of stuff including show/hide hidden files but no avail. Thanks a ton!

  12. Nab says

    THANK YOU! I have never gone from hopeless to ecstatic before in the matter of a couple of lines, but you are truly a lifesaver

  13. Mai says

    I was just about to re-write an entire brief I worked the whole day on. THANK YOU, you are the BEST.

  14. Anthony says

    I went to so many websites in a frantic state trying to find the file I KNEW I JUST saved. You were the only person who clearly explained the right answer. Normally, I don’t bother to leave comments like this…but THANK YOU, you saved me many hours of pain that I just can’t afford.

    • says

      Well that’s very kind of you to make the effort! I appreciate it. I always think clear language is the best (and I couldn’t find it anywhere for this situation!).

  15. Jennifer says

    you just saved me. Microsoft is evil, why would that be the default save folder?! Thank you thank you thank you

  16. Matt says

    Sweet Jesus, thank you. I’ve been working on an Excel file all week, and it’s due on my boss’ desk this morning. I go to open it, POOF, the file was gone. I cannot explain the rage that I felt, and the surprise at how much rage I am apparently capable of. (I work at a Christian university, and I was yelling some pretty terrible things at my computer while the rest of the building listened. Pretty sure you can’t just drop the eff-bomb at full volume at a Christian university and get away with it, but we’ll see.) Anyway, this has never happened to me before. I looked for an hour. No one explained it as precisely, as accurately, and as plainly as you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You saved me an ass-chewing.

    • says

      Oh man you made me laugh! you poor thing. It’s a horrible feeling, because you KNOW YOU SAVED IT! Worst thing ever. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall, though! I hope nobody heard you (or only someone with a sense of humour). So pleased to hear it all worked out and I was of some assistance.

  17. Margaret says

    YOU ARE A LIFE SAVER. Nothing else was working and I was freaking out. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I was searching for an hour and then you finally saved me, you are wonderful

  18. Laura says

    i just don’t get it though… where is the logic in hiding autorecovered files?! their the ones you often need the most!!!
    honestly though… thank you….

  19. Nick Harsh says

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I literally spent 5 hours this morning working on an Astronomy Lab only to do the same thing you did. When I went to attach it so that I could turn it in I about started crying in the coffee shop I am at. I searched and searched this is the ONLY post that helped me find it. My day is no longer ruined! lol


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