Microsoft Office

How do you force quit Microsoft Word on a Mac?

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Write on: sort out Word crashes on your Mac

Has Microsoft Word frozen on your Mac? Can’t get the app to close in the normal way? Worried you’re going to lose the Word document you’re working on? We’re going to show you how to force quit Microsoft Word on Mac and – hopefully – get your Word document back without any lost work.

How do I force quit Microsoft Word on Mac?

If Microsoft Word is completely stuck and unresponsive, give it a minute or two to see if it rights itself. Sometimes software just needs a little time to think about its puropose in life before it comes back to you, as if nothing ever happened.

If it’s definitely not responding, then the force quit routine is the same as it would be for any other Mac app:

  1. Click on the little Apple in the top-left corner of the screen
  2. Choose Force Quit
  3. Select Microsoft Word from the list of apps that appears
  4. Click Force Quit (as shown below)
Force Quit Microsoft Word

If you’re lucky, at this point you might get a prompt to save any unsaved changes. Most likely, however, Microsoft Word will just shut down. You can tell it’s been quit, because the little dot next to the Microsoft Word icon in the Dock will disappear.

How do I recover unsaved work in Microsoft Word?

The best thing to do if you’ve been forced to quit Microsoft Word without saving work is to simply re-open Word on your Mac. There’s a good chance Microsoft’s automatic document recovery will kick in and offer up the unsaved document as soon as you’ve re-opened Word.

If that doesn’t work, there are a couple of things you can try. First, check if anything is saved in Word’s AutoRecovery folder.

To access that, you need to do the following:

  1. Open a Finder window
  2. Click Go from the menu at the top of the screen
  3. Hold down the Option key on your keyboard and select Library, which should now appear in the drop-down menu
  4. Open the following folders: Containers > Microsoft Word > Data > Library > Preferences > AutoRecover
  5. Look for any files that have been saved recently. They might have cryptic file names, especially if you hadn’t previously saved the document.

If you’re using a service such as Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox or Apple iCloud to store your documents, you might also check in there to see if there’s any previous versions of the document that you can revert to.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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