Recover lost Powerpoint files in Office for Mac 2016

I’m finding the new Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 rather buggy, and this evening PowerPoint crashed losing all my changes throughout the day!

Powerpoint has a ‘Restore’ command under its ‘File’ menu, which was… empty.

There are lots of answers on Google to restore under this scenario for PowerPoint 2011, but nothing for the new version

So after working backwards from a solution for Excel 2016, I discovered that you just have to look in:

/Users/”User Name”/Library/Containers/

(Obviously change “User Name” with that of the user you lost the file under)

You should hopefully see some files with the word ‘_autorecover’ appended at the end. Identify one with a timestamp close to where you want to recover.

Copy that file somewhere safe (such as the desktop) and give it a .pptx suffix at the end.

Finally you can try opening with PowerPoint but it may tell you that it is corrupted. If this happens try one of the following strategies:

  • Change the suffix to .ppt and try open again with PowerPoint 2016
  • Open with Apple KeyNote instead
  • Change the suffix to .rtf and try open again in PowerPoint (this was suggested in the comments, I haven’t tried myself)

37 thoughts on “Recover lost Powerpoint files in Office for Mac 2016

  1. Hello Andrew,

    I had the same issue, I spoke with Microsoft support and this is the solution to the corrupted autorecover file:

    1. Find the file per your instructions
    2. Append .rtf to the end of that file
    3. using “open with” open the .rtf file with powerpoint

    That brought my file back from the dead!

    1. Thanks for that! I’ll try adding rtf to the end next time. Seems strange since that would indicate a ‘Rich Text Format’ document right?

      1. Alternately, I appended the file with .ppt instead of .pptx and it opened in powerpoint just fine.
        Running the newest version of Office for Mac on El Capitan.

        Thank you for saving me a lot of time!!

      2. I appended my file with .ppt rather than .pptx and it opened in powerpoint right away.

        Thank you so much for this!!

    2. THANKS SO MUCH!!! It worked for me! I had to “enable all applications” though to get it to open with powerpoint. Cant believe this was so difficult to recover.

  2. You my friend are a genius! 6 hours work nearly lost!! Took me three hours to find this and open with Keynote though! Thanks so much for taking the effort to post this solution.

  3. This was really helpful! I was so frustrated not being able to locate those lost files – many times over! And yes, surprising that keynote could open the recovered files while powerpoint kept saying the file was corrupt!

  4. What worked for me is not appending anything at the end, but simply right clicking it and “open with” powerpoint. Remember once inside the “open with” dialog box you have to change “Recommended Applications” to “All Applications” to be able to choose powerpoint as a program to open with. Cheers!

  5. Thank you so much, I had lost very important work and thought I’d be up all night re-doing it!

    One Tip: Even when I saved it and changed it to .rtf, the file wouldn’t open so I changed to .ppt (the older version of powerpoint) and it worked! Marvellous!

  6. You guys are the best! I was so upset when this happened. Literally helped me save hours of work with an approaching deadline! Changing to just .ppt worked for me.

    1. Hi Sam, in theory PowerPoint should just allow you to recover the file in the ‘File’->’Recover’ menu. In practice this doesn’t seem to work, therefore likely a bug for Microsoft to work on. This article is just a work-around.

  7. so, I have a 3rd option– it’s messy and inefficient. After having done it, I question whether or not it would have been better to just re-write the presentation I lost on ppt… but nevertheless this is the internet, so I’ll share:

    1. download a data recovery app (consider Cisdem Data Recovery, I’ve heard it’s good)
    (pro tip: try serial seeker for a deeeeeep discount)
    2. run looking for all .ppt and .pptx docs
    3. recover these
    4. individually change their suffix to .rtf
    5. “open with” (select all apps, not just recommended) PowerPoint
    6. choose to repair and the file will open (sometimes).

    they’re all weird/coded names, so your best bet is to find a file about the same size as the one you lost/deleted. this could take a while!

    good luck!

  8. I worked 4 hours yesterday on a PPT presentation. Today my MAC would not wake up from sleep mode. So I had to restart it, and could not recover my PPT file. I checked the recovery folder, but it was empty, even browsed through the time machine snapshots at different time stamp, and the recovery folder was always empty. Any chance to recover my 4 hours work ?

    1. As far as I can tell, with Powerpoint 2016 the recoverable files will be in that folder or not at all. If you are using Powerpoint 2011 it is in another folder (not sure which one).

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