4 Ways to Restore Overwritten Word Documents on Mac?

Did you accidentally replace a Word document on Mac with one having the same name? It certainly feels like a nightmare when a necessary file is gone because you weren’t being careful. But all hopes are not lost. This post summarizes the four solutions that will most likely help you recover replaced files on Mac.

Let’s start by understanding where the replaced files go and the chances of getting them back.

Where does the replaced Word file go?

When you overwrite a Word file, either by saving changes or replacing it with an identically named one, you tell the operating system to mark the blocks that store the original data as available and write new data to the hard drive.

However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the new data will be kept on the exact blocks the original data was saved or that the blocks will be immediately erased. If the actual data on the drive hasn’t been deleted, there’s still a chance of recovery using a reliable tool.

Can you restore an overwritten Word document on Mac?

Yes, it’s possible to restore an overwritten Word document on Mac if the file meets one of the following conditions:

  1. New data haven’t overwritten the blocks where the original Word document is stored.
  2. You backed up your Mac before replacing the Word document.
  3. You have enabled One Drive to save your Word documents.

How to retrieve replaced Word documents on Mac?

There are four ways to recover replaced Word documents on Mac. You can obviously recover from a backup, local or cloud. Or restore to a previous version using the in-app restore feature in Microsoft Word. Nevertheless, if you have no precautions taken, the only solution is to use a reliable data recovery tool.

Way 1: Recover replaced Word files from Time Machine

If you have configured Time Machine to back up your Mac, you should have at least a copy of the original Word file available to restore from. Even if the backup happened before the Word document is created, there’s still an opportunity to get the file back using the local snapshot as long as you have set Time Machine to back up automatically.

As stated in Apple’s document, Time Machine saves one snapshot roughly every hour and keeps it for 24 hours. But it may vary in cases. In my own experience, I haven’t plugged in my backup disk since the initial backup (months away), but I still have a local snapshot that was taken 2 hours ago available for me to restore files.

If that’s your case, follow these steps to recover the overwritten Word document from Time Machine:

  1. Insert your Time Machine backup disk to your Mac. (Skip to step 2 if you are taking a chance with the local snapshot.)
  2. Open the folder that contains the replaced Word document.
  3. Click on the Time Machine icon in the top-right of the menu bar, then select Enter Time Machine.
  4. Select the Word document you want to restore, then press the Space Bar to preview the content.
  5. Click Restore to recover the file.

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  1. Choose Replace if you don’t want to keep the other version. Otherwise, choose Keep both.

You can then find the recovered file in its original location.

Way 2: Restore overwritten Word documents from Cloud backups

Many Cloud backup services such as iCloud or Dropbox allow users to recover deleted or replaced files within 30 days. If you have synced your files with iCloud on your Mac, here are the steps to get the overwritten file back:

  1. Visit iCloud.com (https://www.icloud.com/) and sign in to iCloud.
  2. Click Account Settings.
  3. Click Restore Files under the Advanced tab.
  4. Select the Word file you want to restore and click Restore.

If you back up your Mac with Dropbox, follow these steps to recover the replaced document:

  1. Visit Dropbox.com (https://www.dropbox.com/) and log in to Dropbox.
  2. Locate the file you want to restore to a previous state.
  3. Click the three-dot drop-down menu, then choose Version History.
  4. Find the exact version you’d like to recover.
  5. Click Restore twice.

It will soon direct you to the home page and show you a message saying that the document is restored.

Way 3: Retrieve replaced Word files with a previous version

Microsoft Word keeps different versions of your documents on the app in case you need to revert to a previous state. But it only works when the file is saved on One Drive. If your overwritten Word file was uploaded to One Drive, here are the steps to retrieve it:

  1. Open the Word file that replaced the original document.
  2. Click File > Restore or Browse Version History from the menu bar.

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  1. Locate the version saved before the replacement, select it, then click Open Version.
  2. Once the document is open, check whether it’s the one you want to restore.
  3. Click Restore when you confirm the version you need.

Way 4: Recover overwritten Word documents with Mac Data Recovery software

If none of the solutions we mentioned are available to you, it’s time to invest in a reliable Mac data recovery tool. At the same time, stop saving any data to your Mac to mitigate the risk of overwriting the original file.

Data recovery software can scan every corner of your hard drive to find the original data if it still physically exists. Though there are various Mac data recovery tools to choose from, selecting one with a better algorithm like iBoysoft Data Recovery will certainly improve the chances of recovery.

You can ask a friend for recommendations or find one with a good reputation online. Regardless, you should consider these things before deciding:

  1. Does the software support your Mac model, macOS version, and other document formats besides Docx?
  2. Does the software provide a free preview so that you know whether it can find your file before purchasing?
  3. Is the software safe to install and easy to use?
  4. Do its developers update the software?
  5. Does the brand have rich experience in recovering data?


Hopefully, you have had the overwritten Word document recovered and realized how important data backup is. Whatever it is, it’s time to start backing up your Mac or the essential files on it. You can choose the built-in Time Machine, a cloud backup service, or simply copy the files to different devices.

No matter what backup method you choose, remember to do it regularly. Some day, these backups may save you a lot of hassles when you accidentally delete or overwrite a file.

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