How to Recover a Deleted/Unsaved Keynote Presentation on Mac

recover keynote document

It’s easy to spend hour after hour building the perfect presentation for wooing clients, communicating complex ideas, or showcasing unforgettable vacations. But accidentally deleting or losing those files can feel like a punch in the gut.

Luckily, there are ways to recover Keynote presentation files.

This guide focuses on how to restore deleted or unsaved Keynote files from your Mac computer. Inside, we’ll look at Keynote’s autosave feature, how to browse version histories, and four other methods of data recovery to bring your presentation back to life.

Does Keynote Autosave?

Thankfully, Keynote comes with a built-in autosave feature. This feature saves your work every few minutes so that if the program crashes or if you accidentally leave without saving, your work won’t necessarily be lost. When Keynote restarts, it’ll load the most recent autosave version.

To restore your most recent version using Keynote’s autosave:

  1. Open your file.
  2. Click File in the menu bar, then Revert to, then Previous Save.Revert to previous version
  3. You’ll then lose all changes since your previous autosave and revert to that version.

Since your Mac actually stores past versions of your Keynote file saved by the autosave feature, you can also restore your presentation to an even earlier version.

To restore a previous version from your Keynote version history:

  1. Open your Keynote file.
  2. Click File in the menu bar, then Revert to, then Browse All Versions….Select browse past versions
  3. After clicking Browse All Versions, you can navigate previous versions through the timeline to the right, the arrows next to the versions, or just by clicking the background versions.Navigate past versions
  4. Find the version you’d like to restore and select it.Find your desired version
  5. You can look through all the different slides to make sure it’s the right Keynote version. Once you’ve confirmed it’s the right one, click Restore.Click restore

How to Recover a Deleted Keynote File on Mac

If you can’t recover your Keynote files using the autosave feature, don’t panic. Just as you can recover PowerPoint, there are still a few other methods you can use to restore your Keynote presentations.

Method 1. Check the Trash Bin

The Trash Bin is the first place to look for your deleted Keynote document.

Apple developers created this special folder to give users a “second chance” for recovering files they deleted accidentally. If you’ve deleted a file, it moves to the Trash Bin, where it remains until you manually delete it (“empty the trash”) or until the system automatically removes it due to space constraints.

Unless you’ve emptied your trash after accidentally removing your Keynote file, you’ll likely find your deleted presentation in the Trash Bin.

To restore your Keynote file from the Trash Bin:

  1. Locate and click the Trash folder in your dock.
  2. Search through the files inside for your Keynote presentation.Find your file
  3. Once you’ve located the file, right-click it, and select Put Back. Doing so will restore the file to its original location, and you can then use and modify it normally.Select the Put Back option

Method 2. Use Data Recovery Software

If you’ve already emptied your trash, the next step is to try data recovery software.

When you delete a file, that file just becomes earmarked to be overwritten, not necessarily removed from your drive. As such, you may still be able to recover these files with data recovery software.

IMPORTANT: Stop using the affected drive immediately if you plan to use data recovery software. Each new piece of data written to the drive increases the odds of file corruption.

Disk Drill is a powerful yet user-friendly data recovery software used by experts and amateurs alike.

To recover your Keynote presentation using Disk Drill:

  1. Download Disk Drill and install the program.Install Disk Drill
  2. Grant Disk Drill the appropriate permissions. These permissions are required in order for the program to have the access it needs to find your missing files.Grant Disk Drill permissions
  3. Select the drive where you were storing your Keynote presentation. Then click Search for lost data.Select your drive
  4. Wait for the scan to finish. It might take a few minutes, depending on how full the drive is.Wait for scan to finish
  5. Once the scan is complete, click Review found items.Review found items
  6. Locate your deleted Keynote file. You can use the small “eye” icon next to the name to preview the file and ensure it’s the correct document.Find your file
  7. Once you’ve made sure you found the right file, select it and click Recover.Select your file and click recover
  8. Choose where you’d like to restore the file. Be aware that restoring to the same drive may cause corruption. You’ll see an indicator in the window that lets you know if your selected location is a safe restore point. Once you’ve selected your restore destination, click OK. Then you can use your file like normal.Select recovery destination

Method 3. Locate the Temp Folder

Even if Keynote is not responding or Keynote won’t open, you can still access temporary folders to get your files back.

Temporary folders or TMP folders are those which hold files used by an application during installation or removal. They’re also home to files an application uses on a temporary basis. If you cannot locate your file using other means, it may still be housed in these internal folders.

The best way to access these temporary files is by using Terminal, Apple’s utility that allows you to interact with your Mac using a command-line interface. It may look technical at first glance but using Terminal (especially to just open temporary files) is easy.

To restore your Keynote document by accessing temp folders:

  1. Open Terminal either through Finder or by using Spotlight (Command + Space).Open Terminal on Mac
  2. Once in Terminal, enter the command open $TMPDIR and hit Enter.Enter the proper command string
  3. Search through the files and folders to find your Keynote presentation. Then open it and save it to a new location.Locate your presentation

Method 4. Restore From Time Machine

There is one more method to recover deleted Keynote presentations—Time Machine backups. But in order to use it, you need to configure it beforehand.

As a result, if you save a Keynote presentation and Time Machine runs a backup, you can access that backed-up version straight through Time Machine—even if you’ve already deleted your Keynote file.

IMPORTANT: Keep your computer connected to your backup drive to get the most benefit from Time Machine. If your computer isn’t connected to the drive, Time Machine can only keep local snapshots unless you’ve created a backup partition on your hard drive.

To restore a Keynote file from Time Machine:

  1. Open Time Machine by clicking the icon in the menu bar. Then click Enter Time Machine.Enter Time Machine
  2. Find the backup you’d like to restore from. You can navigate backups using the timeline to the right, the arrows, or the background windows.Navigate your backups
  3. Locate the backup you’d like to restore from and your Keynote presentation. Select it and then click Restore.Find and restore your file

Wrapping Up

Keynote is a fantastic program for creating and editing presentations on the Mac. And if you accidentally delete your Keynote file, it can mean hours upon hours of hard work down the drain.

Thankfully, the Keynote document recovery methods covered in this guide are effective ways of restoring your presentation without the help of a professional data recovery specialist.

Alex Thompson is a writer who's made a career out of making complex topics easy to understand for readers. His expertise spans technical subjects like cryptocurrency and cybersecurity, where he crafts content tailored to his audience. A dedicated Mac user,… Full Bio