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Effective Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Mac

Effective Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Mac

Accidentally deleting files on your Mac can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Whether it’s an important document, cherished photo, or essential system file, the immediate reaction is often panic. However, there are several effective methods you can use to recover these deleted files, and this article will guide you through each one. I’ve personally tested various techniques, and I can confidently share the detailed, step-by-step process for recovering deleted files on macOS. From using powerful third-party software to leveraging built-in Mac features, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get your files back. For further reading, don’t miss our comprehensive Article on Medium: Recovering Deleted Files on MacOS.


Common Scenarios:

Deleting Files by Accident 🗑

  • We’ve all been there; a slip of the finger and an important file gets tossed into the trash.
  • Accidentally hitting delete while organizing your files.
  • Double-clicking ‘Delete’ instead of ‘Open’ can instantly erase files you need.

Emptying the Trash 🗑

  • You might think the Trash was just a bit too full and decided to empty it.
  • Emptying the Trash can permanently delete files you thought you no longer needed.
  • It’s easy to overlook an important file when emptying your Mac’s Trash.

Software Crashes 🖥

  • Software crashes can lead to unsaved files and unexpected deletions.
  • File corruption due to a crash can render essential files inaccessible.
  • Backup failures during a system crash can result in data loss.

Step-by-Step Guide. How To Recover Deleted Files On Mac:

Method 1: Using Disk Drill 🛠

  • Download and Install Disk Drill from the official website. You can find it by searching for Disk Drill on Google or directly accessing Disk Drill.
  • Open Disk Drill and select the disk or partition where the lost files were located.
  • Click on the ‘Recover’ button and the software will begin scanning for deleted files.
  • Once the scan is complete, browse through the list of recoverable files and select the ones you wish to restore.
  • Click on the ‘Recover’ button again to save the recovered files to a new location.

Note: Avoid saving recovered files to the same partition to prevent overwriting.

Conclusion: Disk Drill is an efficient tool, especially for recovering files from a recently formatted or corrupted disk.

Method 2: Restoring from Time Machine 🕰

  • Connect your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  • Open the folder where your deleted files were originally located.
  • Click on the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and choose ‘Enter Time Machine’.
  • Navigate through the timeline to find the deleted files.
  • Click the ‘Restore’ button to recover your files to their original location.

Note: Ensure your Time Machine backups are up to date to recover the most recent versions of your files.

Conclusion: Time Machine is a reliable option for restoring files if you regularly back up your Mac.

Method 3: Using macOS Terminal 💻

  • Open the Terminal application on your Mac.
  • Type the command ‘cd .Trash’ and hit Enter to navigate to the Trash folder.
  • Use the command ‘ls’ to list the files in the Trash folder.
  • Type ‘mv [filename] [destination_path]’ to move the file from the Trash to your desired location.
  • Ensure the file has been restored to the new location.

Note: Terminal commands should be used with caution, as incorrect usage might result in data loss.

Conclusion: macOS Terminal is a powerful tool for advanced users comfortable with command-line interfaces.

Method 4: Checking Recently Deleted in Gallery Apps 🖼

  • Open the Photos app on your Mac.
  • Navigate to the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder in the sidebar.
  • Select the photos or videos you wish to recover.
  • Click on the ‘Recover’ button to restore them to your Library.
  • Verify that the files have returned to their original location.

Note: Files in the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder are only kept for 30 days before they are permanently deleted.

Conclusion: This method is handy for recovering recently deleted media files within the Photos app.

Method 5: Using iCloud Drive ☁

  • Sign into your iCloud account on your Mac.
  • Open the iCloud Drive folder from Finder.
  • Click on the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder in iCloud Drive.
  • Select the files you wish to recover and click on ‘Recover’.
  • Check that the files have been restored to their original location within your iCloud Drive.

Note: iCloud Drive keeps recently deleted files for 30 days before permanently removing them.

Conclusion: iCloud Drive is a reliable option for recovering files that were synced with your iCloud account.


Watch on Youtube: Effective Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Mac


Precautions and Tips:

Stay Safe with Backup Solutions 🛡

  • Always keep a recent backup of important files using Time Machine or any other reliable backup solution.
  • Utilize cloud storage services like iCloud or Google Drive for added redundancy.
  • Regularly check and update your backup settings to ensure they cover your most crucial data.

Additional Tips

It’s always a good idea to have more than one method of backing up your files. Besides Time Machine and iCloud, consider using external hard drives or other cloud storage solutions such as Dropbox or Google Drive to diversify your backup strategy. Keeping multiple backups ensures that, in the event of a failure in one system, you still have other ways to recover your data.

If you’re working with critical files, like business documents or extensive project files, it might be worth investing in professional data recovery services. These services can be costly, but they are often necessary for the recovery of highly important files. Companies like Ontrack offer specialized data recovery services which can recover data from physically damaged disks as well as deleted or corrupted files.

For individuals who frequently delete and restore files, certain software solutions provide continuous backup and recovery options. Software like Acronis True Image offers a comprehensive backup and recovery suite that can automatically save versions of your files, making it easier to restore specific editions if needed.

Lastly, always keep your operating system and recovery software up to date. Updates often contain critical security patches and improvements that can make the recovery process more efficient. Be sure to check for software updates regularly and apply them as needed to ensure you’re always protected against the latest threats and vulnerabilities.


Recovering deleted files on a Mac doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following the methods outlined in this article and utilizing tools like Disk Drill or the in-built Time Machine feature, you can maximize your chances of recovering lost data. Always remember to maintain regular backups and keep your software updated to prevent future data loss. For additional guidance, check out other resources and don’t hesitate to consult with professional data recovery services if needed.

While each recovery method has its strengths, the best approach often involves a combination of several techniques to ensure the highest probability of success. Stay proactive about your data protection and recovery strategies to keep your important files safe and accessible.


First, check the Trash bin. Sometimes, deleted files are still there, allowing you to easily restore them. Just right-click and select Put Back.

Open Time Machine by clicking the icon in the menu bar. Navigate to the date and time when the files existed and click Restore.

Yes, the Time Machine and the Trash bin are built-in tools that assist with recovering deleted files on macOS. They are highly effective.

Yes, you can use third-party software like EaseUS or Disk Drill to recover deleted files. These tools offer options to scan and retrieve lost files.

Professional data recovery services involve specialized technicians using advanced tools to retrieve lost files. They can recover files from severely damaged or formatted storage devices.

Yes, log into and head to iCloud Drive. Check the Recently Deleted folder and restore the needed files from there.

Avoid adding or deleting files on your Mac's drive to prevent data overwriting. This ensures higher chances of recovering the deleted files intact.

Yes, the Terminal command line can be used with tools like Photorec to scan and recover deleted files, though this requires some technical knowledge.

Though Disk Utility primarily focuses on repairing and formatting, it can sometimes assist in identifying and addressing disk-related issues that might have caused data loss.

Absolutely. Setting up regular Time Machine backups or using external drives ensures you always have multiple copies of your important files, making recovery simpler.