RECOVER YOUR UNSAVED FILES WHEN AN OFFICE APP CRASHES: MAC, PPT
I don’t often write personal life stories - I just don’t find them “techy” enough. But I am, today, going to share with you a little anecdote - an incident that I find worth sharing.
It was about 8 o’clock at night. My dad had been working on a presentation on his MacBook using the Microsoft PowerPoint app (yeah, not the Keynote app, simply because it’s not as compatible with his work-life). He was on the app for over 6 hours by then - 6 hours of work, not saved once. Saving work isn’t really a habit, considering none of the Office apps on the MacBook had ever crashed. But today was different.
During the tedious work of editing his presentation, the worst thing on earth happened. Microsoft Office simply stopped responding, with the rainbow wheel of death began to spin to mourn the crash. Six full hours of work, all gone in a jiffy? I, being the geek, was responsible for the solution of the problem.
And I did, and that is what I’m going to share with you.
A quick Google search turned up some interesting, yet fruitless, results. All the information seemed to correspond to the Word app, probably because it is used a lot more. There were no official solutions to the problem, and the only possibilities I found were on the Apple Support forums.
I didn’t want to force quit the app considering that would be the ultimate stab at the presentation software. Instead, I started looking for the AutoRecover file that would hopefully have stored the remaining bits of the presentation. After a little research online, I found it.
Go to Documents -> Microsoft User Data -> Office 2011 AutoRecovery. [In newer installations, it is located in Finder -> Go -> (press the option key) Library -> Application Support -> Microsoft -> Office -> Office 20XX AutoRecovery]
But wait, it did not contain anything. Some more Google time!
You need to unhide hidden files. You do that by... Open the Terminal app, and paste the following: defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles YES
You then need to immediately Relaunch the Finder app; do that by right-clicking the Finder icon in the Dock and choosing ‘Relaunch’.
Now the files were visible. But there was another problem - how do you open them? The “My Presentation” file had no file extension! In a forum thread I had read that you’ll have to change the Excel AutoRecovery file extension in order to open it - form .xlsx to .xlsb (the ‘binary file, basically).
For PPT, you need to rename the 'no extension' file to a ".pptm” file. Then you can open it.
So I finally force quit (right-click on the dock icon -> Force Quit) the PowerPoint app, and I opened the .pptm AutoRecovery files with all hopes. Success.
Phew! I saved six full hours of work. The last save was 7:33 PM, just a few minutes before the crash.
Now, RESAVE YOUR WORK. Use the Save As option and save it as a .pptx file, and you are all done.
And there you go! I kept my “Geek” title up, saving my dad’s work.
Now, for a few suggestions:
#1. Save often. I do that by pressing Command + S, the simplest way.
#2. Use any of the Apple iWork apps, at least for other presentations. Unlike Office, these apps have nothing called Save! Everything is saved automatically, irrespective of whether the app crashes or whether it is closed by mistake. In fact, you can shut down without saving your work and the iWork app will open the document as you left to when you turn on your Mac again. This is the best solution I’ve found.
#3. Make sure the AutoRecovery time in the Office app preferences (Word -> Preferences) is 10 minutes or lesser. Depending on the importance of your work, the lesser the better; depending on the load on the computer, the more the better (you don’t want the app to crash because of it trying to save the AutoRecovery file every minute).
Hope you found this article helpful, in case you are in the same situation as I was.
That is it. The idea behind this anecdote is to help you readers, and the users of the internet, to solve such undocumented problems.
Have a great day!