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Ask Max: Where are hidden or temp files stored on my Mac?

Asked on 01/28/2010:

Hi Jacob -

I'm not sure if this is in your arena, but I'll try.

Is there a place on a Mac (like the hidden /tmp area) where temp files are created as you're typing an email in a web-based email program (like Yahoo)?

I was typing along, and somehow, Yahoo's advertisements bar (normally located to the right of the body of my email) jumped into the main frame where one writes the actual email text.

The ads pane is no longer on the right side of my screen, and my message has been replaced with the advertisement. I can't undo, I can't get rid of it, and my drafts folder now shows a draft of an email that contains none other than the advertisement.

I'm pulling out my hair to find a way to recover the text that I was typing, and thanks to no help from yahoo thus far, I'm getting nowhere. I'm thinking that this data has got to be saved somewhere, on some server, but I'm hoping that there also exists a temp file of the text somewhere on my machine. Any ideas?




There are a few things you can try. If you have the page open still, you can try saving a Web Archive of the page. Select "Save As..." from the File menu and save a Web Archive of the page. Then open the Web Archive with the TextEdit application. It will look awful, but scroll down through the page and see if the text is in there someplace. I did a test and found it down at the bottom of the page.

Before you close the Yahoo Mail page you can look through the Safari Cache file found here: Macintosh HD/Users/(YourUserName)/Library/Caches/ Search through it for words that you know you used in the email text, that should lead you to the data, if it is there.

If that fails, you could also try changing the "To:" address of the draft and send it to yourself instead. Perhaps the sent version of the email will exclude the advertisement.

- Jacob

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