I was using OneNote for Mac, and created 30+ folders and content. I have an iMac with Time Machine backup. I took my iMac to a computer shop and got an upgrade to my hard drive. When the computer was returned, all of the programs worked, with the exception of OneNote, the One Note App icon bounced up and down and did not open.

I spoke to a technician who said folders should be in the OneDrive cloud, but after checking the OneNote cloud, none of these folders where there. The technician recommended I remove OneNote for Mac, and re-install. I did, and OneNote worked, but none of my previously created folders appeared.

Next I tried to go into the Time Machine, back in time, and see the ~/Library/Containers/com.microsfot.onenote.mac files from different dates. I copied a version and tried to replace the currently working com.microsoft.onenote.mac file with the version from TimeMachine, but when I did this and re-ran OneNote, the OneNote for Mac App icon returned to bouncing up and down, and had to be force quit, removed, then reinstalled.

Has anyone had this problem with OneNote for Mac and been able to successfully recover and recreate their folder structure and content? Does anyone know how I can recover the OneNote folders that I created before taking my computer to the shop? Is it possible for me to use a version of OneNote that will read these folders and import them back into OneNote? I put a lot of information into this folders and really want to be able to view them and their content in One Note, again.

  • How did you recover the file from Time Machine, via the Time Machine UI or directly in Terminal? In the second case, how are the permissions set on the file now?
    – nohillside
    Jun 4, 2020 at 8:49
  • If the APPLICATION does not launch it needs to be reinstalled and is not likely any missing notes file. Trash the old App file and reinstall from your original source. Once the app launches you will see if finds any files restored from Time Machine or if it merely asks you to log into the free OneDrive account associated with your OneNote. Jun 4, 2020 at 20:53

3 Answers 3


Thank you for all of your recommendations. Unfortunately, after trying these steps I could not recover any files, as I could not get OneNote to work after performing the steps described.

With what seemed like no options left, I decided to take my old hard drive back to the computer technicians that had installed my new hard drive. I asked them to see if they could get One Note to work using my old hard drive.

On my old hard drive, the technicians were able to see the missing OneNote folders. They were able to determine that Onenote on the MAC had not synchronized with OneNote in the cloud, resulting in the folders that I had worked on not being uploaded.

Using my OneNote cloud password, they were able to upload the folders from the old hard drive to the cloud. After that, I have been able to retrieve the folders from the cloud and work locally using OneNote. I was so thankful!

Thank you again, for doing your best to help me!


You could try to recover your data using Time Machine Backup. Chose the backup that is closest in time to when you lost it. Enter Time Machine and select the backup that's closest to the time you lost the data. In that backup select the folder you want to restore and click on the restore button.

If you still can't find this folder or the files you can use a data recovery app to recover deleted files. There are several apps available for this purpose but none are cheap. I successfully used Stellar Date Recovery to recover some files I accidentally deleted. This application has a free trial period which you can use for this. There are others as well. I'm not associated in any way with Stellar Recovery software. It's just the one I tried and it worked.


OneNote 2016 and newer appears to only save using OneDrive and only has a locally cached version on your computer. They don't offer the ability to save a local copy as that's only a Windows feature.

The most likely issue you are running into is that you're signed into the wrong Microsoft account. Check to see if you have multiple accounts and if you use an account with a custom domain name, see if signing in with the Work/School option instead of the Personal option works. You should try signing in using your web browser and visiting onenote.com or office.com and picking OneNote.

The location of the cached local files appears to be at this location below:

~/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.onenote.mac/Data/Library/Application Support/Microsoft User Data/OneNote/

However I suspect it's a simple matter of being signed into a different Microsoft account.

  • As of June 2021 the location of the OneNote cache appears to be: ~/Library/Containers/Microsoft\ OneNote/Data/Library/Caches/com.microsoft.onenote.mac Jun 10, 2021 at 14:37

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