Microsoft Word file names changing to .~WRD[4 Digits] and then deleting themselves

Copper Contributor
I have multiple word documents saved on an external hard drive. After upgrading to Microsoft Word for Mac Version 16.55 (21111400) and upgrading my mac to Mac OS Catalina Version 10.15.7, I started noticing issues when trying to save Word documents on my external hard drive. When I try to hit Command+Save (and sometimes before I even try to save), the file name changes to .~WRD followed by 4 random digits. Then I get an error message stating "Additional permissions are required to access the following files: /Volumes/G-DRIVE mobile USB-C/ Saved by Word 170)/.~WRD3512." When I hit the "Select" button, I am then taken to a menu that says "Please select the file .~WRD3512." But no file appears and I cant select "Grant Access." So I click cancel.
When I try to select File > Save, I get the message:
This document’s file has been changed by another application since you opened or saved it.
The changes made by the other application will be lost if you save. Save anyway?
If I select save, I get taken back to the Grant File Access page described above. So I cant save the document. Then, when I try to close out the document, it gives me the prompt:
Do you want to save the changes made to the document “.~WRD3512 [Compatibility Mode]”?
Your changes will be lost if you don't save them.
In the case of the lost document, since I couldn't save, I had to click "Don't Save." Then, I saw that neither the original document was in the folder nor was the renamed document. So my document completely disappeared, despite years of working on it and saving it multiple times. Since it was on an external hard drive, Time Machine didn't back it up and I have no idea where it is. Im absolutely mortified and stressed as this was a very long and important document. I simply cannot understand or believe how this happened. Has anyone had a similar problem to this? Do you know how I can recover the file? Does anyone know why this happened / what is happening?
Any info would be greatly appreciated
11 Replies
NEVER save a Word document directly to any external drive. Catastrophic corruption of the document is a very likely consequence. ALWAYS move the document to the local drive and open it from that location to edit it and then save back to the local drive. After saving and closing the file, you can move it to the external drive if you want a copy of it on that drive.

I experience the same issue when I save files located in folders connected to Google Drive (Version: I hope anyone would share experience on how to solve this problem. Thanks a lot.

@faisalmustafa wrote:

I experience the same issue when I save files located in folders connected to Google Drive (Version: I hope anyone would share experience on how to solve this problem. Thanks a lot.


I suspect that the problem here is that Google Drive isn't supported as a saving location in Word/Office. 


I have spent many hours with Msoft Tech Support about this problem.


We pursued:

1) changing the location of docs folder

2) reinstalling Word

3) reinstalling Office

4) my purchasing a whole other Office package

5) changing the file name

6) disconnecting external drives

7) copying and pasting the content into a new document

8) viewing raw data

9) recreating the document from scratch

10) reformatting the drive and installing a new OS


The problem recurred regardless of all this. Tis still repeatedly happening while attempting to save over an open document after adding a certain amount of text into the document. 


I have been working around the problem by navigating back to the doc folder, typing in the original file name and replacing the old document.


Most frustrating was losing transcripts from a 24 hour long (3-8 hr day) seminar. The only way to get a partial recovery of the data was to purchase a data recovery software which only recovered about 50% of the document.





What is the path the the folder where you are saving the files? Is it a folder on the C: Drive or another drive installed IN your computer. Is the folder being synchronized with any external destination (drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.)


Path is a fast 12 tb external USB 3 drive that works fine for every other application including real time writing of multitrack audio and video in Final Cut, Protools, Media Composer, etc....


@Music_Prof It doesn't matter how fast the interface is.  NEVER work on a Word document when it is located on any form of external\removable device and NEVER save a Word document directly to such a device!

So... reading the comments on this post, isn't there a solution for this problem?

Working locally is not a solution, as it happens with Sharepoint files...


I have been stung by this horrible bug AGAIN.  At least once I was able to recover the most current version of a doc using a recovery utility, but the reality is that Word has a serious problem in the way it saves temporary files.  The original NAMED file does not get updated properly if it is left open over a long period of time (which is not unusual when working on a document).


I save constantly, and it always says "saving to your Mac."  But at some random time the file name mysteriously changes to .~WRD#### and at THAT point, if I close the document before doing a Save As to create a fresh file, the WRD file is lost, and so is all the work since the last time the original file was closed!  Nor is there anything in the AutoRecovery folder.


It has nothing to do with using external drives, I save to a local drive on my computer and it still happens.  It's a bug, and I've seen posts in other places complaining of the same problem.  Sorry to the other posters on this thread, I don't have an answer, I'm just extremely pissed off!

I have dealt with this for a VERY long time and I have not tried contacting Microsoft about the problem as of yet because I'm not sure if there even is a fix for this, especially being that we're talking about working in a Windows (Microsoft) product on a Mac (Apple product).

I save incessantly and nowadays I'm always looking at the top of my screen to check and see if the ~WRD shows up on my doc. Admittedly, there are times when it doesn't do it, but it seems to do it more often than not. And yes, Mr. Doug Robbins, I DO save to an external drive, but I honestly don't believe that's the entirety of the issue. However, because I'm constantly monitoring how it saves the doc, I have found a minute/temporary workaround that guarantees I haven't lost anything as of yet.

When I save a doc and ~WRD appears on a doc, without closing the doc, I ALWAYS go back and re-save the doc over the file name I was originally working in. That way, it preserves the doc and I don't lose anything. But just be mindful that you have to make sure you are aware and paying attention to the name that appears at the top of your screen in the middle (Mac Users) so that you are working in the doc you want to be in. Constant monitoring of this and making sure you're saving to the right doc and the right place will guarantee (at least in my experience) that you don't lose anything.

I would assume this to be a temporary workaround until Microsoft fixes what is to us an issue...



Thanks for the response!  I've been doing kind of the same thing as you describe, but sometimes I just forget.  In this particular case, just as I closed the window I noticed the name had changed, but it was too late.


I do all the recommended saving and backups, but what fails here is the program's OWN method of saving, so there are no usable backups!  It's idiotic and I've considered dropping Word and Office apps for this reason alone.