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Effective Techniques for Recovering Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac

Effective Techniques for Recovering Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac

Have you ever experienced the sinking feeling in your stomach after you’ve realized that your precious photos on your Mac were accidentally deleted? Whether it’s due to a system crash, mistaken deletion, or even permanent deletion, losing irreplaceable memories can be devastating. Fortunately, there are various methods to recover these photos, even after they have been permanently deleted. This comprehensive guide will walk you through several ways to recover permanently deleted photos on a Mac. From using software applications like Disk Drill to leveraging cloud backups, each method detailed below aims to provide a fail-proof way to get your cherished pictures back. For an in-depth discussion on restoring your photos, you can also visit Apple Discussions, where you can see a detailed guide on how to recover permanently deleted photos on mac.


Common Scenarios:

Accidental Deletion 😓

  • You were cleaning up your files and accidentally deleted a folder containing important photos.
  • You realized the mistake only after emptying the Trash.
  • The photos were not backed up elsewhere, making recovery crucial.

System Crash 😱

  • Your Mac experienced an unexpected crash or shutdown.
  • The corrupted system files led to the deletion of your precious photos.
  • Standard recovery methods didn’t work, requiring more advanced solutions.

Disk Failure 💔

  • A sudden hard drive or SSD failure resulted in the loss of your photos.
  • Replacing the faulty drive didn’t restore the lost data.
  • Specialized recovery methods are needed to recover permanently deleted photos.

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

Method 1: Using Disk Drill 💿

  • Download and install Disk Drill from their official website.
  • Open the application and select the disk or partition where the photos were originally stored.
  • Click on “Recover” and wait for the scan to complete. Disk Drill offers a deep scan option, which can find even permanently deleted files.
  • Once the scan is complete, browse through the list of recoverable files and select the photos you want to restore.
  • Click “Recover” again and specify a location to save the recovered photos.

Note: Disk Drill is highly recommended for its extensive recovery capabilities and user-friendly interface.

Conclusion: Disk Drill offers a robust and efficient way to recover permanently deleted photos on your Mac without requiring advanced technical know-how.

Method 2: Using Time Machine 🍏

  • Connect your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  • Open the folder that originally contained the deleted photos.
  • Launch Time Machine by clicking on its icon in the menu bar.
  • Navigate through the backups, using the timeline on the right side of the screen.
  • Select the date and time that likely had the desired photos, and click “Restore”.

Note: Ensuring regular backups with Time Machine can be a lifesaver in cases of accidental data loss.

Conclusion: Time Machine is an excellent built-in option for recovering deleted photos, provided you have a backup.

Method 3: Using iCloud Photos ☁

  • Open Photos application on your Mac.
  • Click on the “iCloud” tab to see if your deleted photos are backed up there.
  • If found, select the photos and click on “Download” to save them back on your Mac.
  • Go to and log in with your Apple ID.
  • Navigate to “Photos” and check the “Recently Deleted” album for any recoverable images, then click “Recover”.

Note: Photos in iCloud’s “Recently Deleted” album are stored for 30 days before being permanently deleted.

Conclusion: iCloud Photos can be an effective means to recover deleted photos, provided they were synchronized and deleted within the last 30 days.

Method 4: Using Terminal Commands 🖥

  • Open Terminal on your Mac, usually found in the Utilities folder.
  • Type the command "cd .Trash" and press Enter.
  • Then type "ls" to list the contents of your Trash.
  • If you find your deleted photos, move them back to the Desktop by typing "mv [filename] ~/Desktop/".
  • Press Enter, and check your Desktop for the restored files.

Note: This method assumes that the files are still in the Trash and not permanently deleted.

Conclusion: Using Terminal commands can be a simple and quick method for users comfortable with command-line operations to recover deleted files.

Method 5: Using Google Photos 📸

  • Visit Google Photos and log in with your account details.
  • Check the “Photos” and “Albums” sections to see if the deleted images are saved there.
  • If you find the photos, select them and click on “Download” to save them to your Mac.
  • Also, check the “Trash” section within Google Photos for recently deleted items.
  • Click “Restore” to move the photos back to your Google Photos library, and then download them.

Note: Google Photos offers an effective backup and recovery solution for those who use it to sync their photos.

Conclusion: Google Photos is a reliable alternative for recovering lost photos, especially if they’re not found locally on your Mac.


Watch on Youtube: Effective Techniques for Recovering Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac


Precautions and Tips:

Prevention is Better Than Cure 🛡

  • Always back up your photos using multiple methods like Time Machine, iCloud, and Google Photos.
  • Avoid emptying the Trash immediately after deleting files; give it some time.
  • Regularly check your disk health to prevent failures that could lead to data loss.
  • Consider using a professional recovery tool like Disk Drill as your first line of recovery, given its comprehensive feature set.
  • Utilize cloud storage solutions to have an extra layer of precaution against data loss.

Further Reading

Recovering permanently deleted photos on a Mac can be tricky, but knowing various methods and tools such as Disk Drill, Time Machine, and iCloud Photos makes the process easier. Beyond these primary methods, there are additional strategies and tools you can employ.

Photo Recovery Software Alternatives: Although Disk Drill is highly recommended, there are other software options like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and Stellar Data Recovery. These tools offer deep scans to track down lost files, even those that seem unrecoverable.

File Recovery Services: For those dealing with catastrophic disk failures or corruption, consider professional data recovery services. These services specialize in recovering data from damaged or failed storage devices, although they can be costly.

Cloud Backups: Utilize cloud services like Dropbox or OneDrive to back up your photos regularly. Cloud storage offers an excellent layer of redundancy, allowing you to access your files from any location with internet connectivity.

Regular Maintenance: Regularly maintain your Mac to prevent issues that could lead to data loss. Cleaning up unnecessary files and ensuring software updates can help keep your system running smoothly.

Document and Review Data: Keeping an organized folder structure for your photos and regularly reviewing them can make it easier to identify if something goes missing. Use metadata and tags within macOS Photos to help manage and locate images quickly.

Having a comprehensive recovery plan is vital. While it’s reassuring to know that tools and services are available, proactive steps to protect your data can make recovery an easier and less stressful process.


Losing valuable photos can be distressing, but fortunately, there are various methods to recover them. This guide provides an in-depth look into different techniques, from using software like Disk Drill to leveraging cloud storage solutions. No matter the cause of the loss—be it accidental deletion, system crash, or disk failure—it’s crucial to act quickly and utilize the appropriate recovery method. Ensuring regular backups and having a well-thought-out recovery plan can save you significant time and stress. For further reading, you can explore additional tips and detailed guidelines on photo recovery.

2024’s Best Data Recovery Apps for Mac & Windows: An Unbiased Review from Reddit Discussions


Recovery is possible through Time Machine. Connect the backup drive, open the Photos app, and locate the photos. Restore from the desired backup point.

Once Trash is emptied, recovery through normal methods is impossible. Alternative recovery methods or backups are required.

Open the Time Machine menu, enter the backup, and navigate to the Photos Library. Restore the required photos to their original location.

Without a backup, data recovery services can assist. Professionals may retrieve lost data using specialized services.

Experts use advanced techniques and tools to bypass system obstacles, potentially restoring data that standard methods can't. Companies like DriveSavers offer these services.

Regularly enable and use Time Machine for continuous backups. Syncing with iCloud provides an additional layer of protection for photo storage.

Yes, iCloud stores photos in sync. Deleted photos can be recovered from other synced devices or directly from the iCloud website.

Photos deleted within 30 days can be found in the Recently Deleted album of the Photos app, allowing for easy restoration to the library.

Connect the external drive, access it via Finder, locate the Photos Library backup, and copy the photos back to the Mac's library.

Utilities like Disk Drill or PhotoRec can scan the hard drive for recoverable data sectors, potentially restoring deleted photos.