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Every Mac owner has experienced crashes, freezes, and the dreaded spinning baseball of death.

When these things occur, give your Mac a little time. The CPU may be temporarilly overloaded and will eventually return to normal processing.

If after 15 – 30 minutes, you’re still frozen, save everything you can and perform a force shutdown – What Do You Do When Your Mac Freezes… Force Shutdown

Unfortunately, this means you’ll lose any work you haven’t saved 🙁

Unless… you were working in Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.

Microsoft Office employs an Auto-Recover system that’s second-to-none. It’s so good that 90% of the time I’ve ended up losing nothing.

The trick is… knowing how it works.

Microsoft Office AutoRecover 

This post is written for users of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, although you’ll find much of the information applies to prior and subsequent copies of Office.

First thing, turn it on:

  • Open Microsoft Word.
  • In the Menu Bar, click Word then select Preferences…

Microsoft Word For Mac Preferences Menu

  • In the Output and Sharing section, choose Save.

Microsoft Word For Mac - Output and Sharing - Save

  • Under Save Options, you’ll find Save AutoRecover Info Every: X minutes.

Microsoft Word For Mac - AutoRecovery Parameters

  • Check the box to turn the AutoRecover feature on.
  • I suggest you change the AutoRecover timing to between 3 – 5 minutes, depending on your writing habits.

You must have saved your Document at least once for AutoRecover to function. Try to get in the habit of saving documents directly after creating them.

AutoRecover must be turned on individually for Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

How It Works

Once you save a document, AutoRecover works in the background dutifully saving that document according to the timing it’s been given.

If your Mac crashes or you have to force shutdown, AutoRecover makes a rescue copy of your document.

Apologies for the lack of images. I tried to make my Mac crash so I could provide screenshots of the kind of dialog boxes you might see… but, my Mac could not be fooled. Even after I yanked the power cable, it just restarted and lost no Office data 🙂

What To Do After A Crash

  • Restart your Mac.
  • After your Mac has rebooted, the Office application(s) and document(s) that were open during the crash should automatically reopen. If they don’t, open each application manually.
  • With each document you will be shown the file you were working on with the word “recovered” attached to the file name.
  • You have the option to keep the last saved version or the AutoRecovered version of the file.
  • Immediately, use Save As… to save the .docx, .xlsx or .pptx in a location of your choice.

If you’re not automatically given the option to open and save AutoRecovered files:

  • Locate the last AutoRecovered files by following this path: User>Documents>Microsoft User Data>Office 2011 AutoRecovery.
  • Open the files until you find the one you need.
  • Immediately, use Save As… to save the .docx, .xlsx or .pptx in a location of your choice.

Changing The Location Of AutoRecovered Files

By default, AutoRecovered files are saved in: User>Documents>Microsoft User Data>Office 2011 AutoRecovery.

Microsoft Word For Mac - AutoRecover File Path

If you’d like to change this location.

  • Open Microsoft Word.
  • In the Menu Bar, click Word then select Preferences…

Microsoft Word For Mac - Preferences

  • In the Personal Settings section, choose File Location.

Microsoft Word For Mac - Change AutoRecovery File Location

  • Select Autorecover files and click the Modify button.
  • Determine the new location you want to use and click Choose.

Microsoft Word For Mac - New AutoRecovery File Location

  • Close Preferences.

That’s it. Have a crash free week 🙂

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