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How can I recover a lost file?

Last updated on 30 Aug 2022
4 min read

Lost data is a sensitive issue that we take very seriously. We put special care into safeguarding your Sketch documents and keeping the Mac app stable, so your work is safe.

However, there are occasions when files appear to be misplaced, this can be caused by different things. We’ve gathered a list of common causes and solutions to locate and recover your files.

After trying the following solutions, please contact us if your document is still missing. Provide as many details as possible about how this happened.

I can’t find my file after updating Sketch

Sketch updates are unable to alter or touch your documents. You can safely update Sketch, your local or workspace files are left untouched throughout the update process.

Sometimes a Sketch update can run parallel to a macOS update or after scheduled maintenance by your organization. In this context, your files might be moved unintentionally by someone else, or shortcuts like the Recent Documents section may appear empty after the maintenance.

Check with your organization if a file backup was made. Also, see the question below about how to search for Sketch files on your computer.

I can’t find my file after Sketch crashed

A crash cannot delete your file, and most likely, all your changes will still be there when you reopen the file.

If Sketch crashed before you were able to save your file, please follow these steps:

  • Open Finder and select Go > Go to Folder… from the menu bar
  • Paste in the following path: ~/Library/Mobile Documents/Sketch
  • This is where unsaved files are temporarily kept. Please note that due to the nature of this folder, the file may not contain the latest changes.

You can also take a look at the following question that covers how to search for Sketch files on your Mac.

I can’t find a Workspace file, what can I do?

Check your Trash Folder

If you saved a file to your Workspace and now cannot find it, try looking for it in the trash folder of the Workspace. Go to Documents and click on the Trash folder option on the left panel.

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Check if the file was moved to a restricted project

Check with your Workspace Admin to see if the file is now in a restricted project.

If this is the case, it is normal that you can no longer see the file. To regain access, you’ll need the Admin or the Editor that created the project to grant you access.

I can’t find a local file, what can I do?

There are several methods we can try to find a local file.

Method 1: searching with Finder

  1. Open a new Finder window
  2. Go to the top right corner and type .sketch in the Search box
  3. Press enter (or select Filenames: Contains “Sketch” from the Search dropdown menu and then change the NAME field to Everything ).

Finder search term

  1. Once the search is complete, you can sort the Date Modified column so you can see the most recent files first

Finder Search Results

Method 2: searching with the Terminal application

If the previous method does not yield results, you can use the Terminal application on your Mac to look for the file:

  1. Open Terminal (Finder > Applications > Utilities)
  2. Enter the following command and press “enter” sudo find / -name “*.sketch” -print
  3. Enter your password (you will not see it in the terminal window as you are typing it) and press “enter”
  4. Wait until the search finishes, and don’t worry if at the beginning you get some errors that read “Operation not permitted” this is normal.
  5. Once the search has finished you’ll see quite a lot of information. To narrow it down, press ⌘F on your keyboard to activate the search field and enter your file’s name.

Tip: you can use partial match searches, this will yield more results.

Once you enter the search term, click the arrows < or > and macOS will highlight the files that have the matching name and the path to the files location:

Search results using terminal

Method 3 - Using iCloud to recover a file

If you have iCloud sync enabled you can look for a backup of your file in your iCloud account:

  1. First, check if iCloud Sync is enabled. Go to the Apple Menu  > System Preferences > Apple ID and select iCloud in the left panel and then click the Options button next to iCloud Drive:

iCloud in System Preferences

A list will pop up. Check if Sketch appears on that list:

Sketch in the app list that backs up files to iCloud

  1. If Sketch is on the list, log into your iCloud account, go to the Settings section and click on the option at the bottom of the page:

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Note: If you use a file storage service that supports file versioning you can also look for a backup of your file. Google Drive is one example of these services but it requires you to set it up to sync your files so it can track changes.