How to Recover Missing Documents Folder on Mac Catalina, Mojave or Earlier

2019-07-16 03:27:18 / Posted by Rosa Reyes to Recover Follow @ Rosa

People search queries like “Documents folder missing Mac” or “Documents folder disappeared from Mac” and hope to find a way to get the missing Documents folder back. This problem is not uncommon. It can occur during everyday use of your Mac or after an upgrade (such as from macOS 10.14 Mojave to 10.15 Catalina). There can be different situations. In some cases, the Documents folder is still there, and it’s easy to make it reappear. In some cases, however, the folder is not on your Mac’s hard drive anymore. This guide will cover all the scenarios and show you how to recover lost Documents folder.

Scenario 1. Mac Documents folder missing from Favorites

On Mac, the Documents folder is typically found under the Favorites section in the left sidebar in Finder. If your Documents folder is missing from Favorites and appears under the iCloud section instead, then this method is for you.

If your Mac is running on macOS Sierra or later, then you are able to add the Documents folder (as well as Desktop folder) to iCloud Drive for instant access on all your devices. Once this feature is enabled and set up, the Documents folder will disappear from Favorites, and you can find it under iCloud section in the Finder Window.

Can you move Documents back to the default location by just disabling the said feature? No, it’s not that simple. You may end up having an empty Documents folder. Check out the steps below.

Step 1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > iCloud. At present, the files in the Documents folder exist both on your Mac and on iCloud Drive.

Step 2. Click Options next to iCloud Drive. In the Documents tab, unselect the checkbox before Desktop & Documents Folders.

unselect Desktop & Documents Folders

Step 3. A warning message will pop up. Click Turn Off and then click Done. Note that this action will remove the files from the Documents folder on your Mac. They still exist in the cloud.

click Turn Off

Step 4. The missing Documents folder is back in Favorites now. However, it’s empty. Go to Favorites > iCloud Drive > Documents (which is newly created). Select all the files and move them back to the old Documents folder. Likewise, you can do the same with your desktop files.

iCloud Drive folder in Finder

Step 5. Delete the files in the iCloud Drive folder in Finder.

Scenario 2. Documents folder missing from Mac’s Finder

What if the Documents folder doesn’t show up in Finder sidebar at all? You just can’t find it under Favorites or any other section. You may think that you have accidentally deleted Documents folder. As a matter of fact, it’s very likely that the folder gets hidden somehow. It’s super easy to make it visible again.

Step 1. Open Finder. In the top menu bar, select Finder > Preferences.

Step 2. In the Finder Preferences window, select the checkbox next to Documents.

Finder Preferences

Step 3. The disappeared Documents folder will appear immediately.

Scenario 3. Documents folder missing from Mac Dock

If Documents folder suddenly disappears from the Dock, you can get it back with just three clicks of your mouse.

Step 1. Open Finder. Control-click Documents.

Step 2. Select the option Add to Dock.

Add to Dock

Scenario 4. Recover lost/deleted/missing Documents folder or files

When it comes to the above-mentioned situations, it’s not hard to get the folder back to normal. However, what if for some reasons it is lost or deleted and no longer there on your Mac? In such a case, you will need to restore the folder from backup (if available) or recover it using data recovery software.

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac can recover all common file types and formats on different devices. The guide below will show you how to use it to recover Documents folder, its files, and other folders or files on MacBook, iMac, etc.

Supported file types

Image: JPG, PNG, GIF, PSD, RAW, BMP, etc.

Audio: MP3, AAC, M4A, FLAC, OGG, RX2, etc.

Video: RM, DV, MKV, MOV, M2TS, MPG, DVR, etc.

Document: DOC, PAGES, KEYNOTE, PDF, MOBI, etc.

Archive: 7Z, DB, ZIP, RAR, ISO, ARJ, XAR, etc.


Supported devices Mac's internal storage, external HD, SSD, USB flash drive, SD card and more
Supported file systems FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, HFS+, ext2, ext3, ext4, NTFS, APFS

Step 1. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery. Launch it. From the five data recovery solutions, select the one that suits your situation the best. Advanced Data Recovery is the most powerful and widely applicable.

select a recovery solution

Step 2. In the Where did you lose your files window, select the drive or partition on which the missing Documents folder is located. Click Scan.

click Scan

Step 3. As scanning goes on, you will be able to see and preview real-time scan results. In the left panel, go to the Path tab, select the checkbox next to the Documents folder and click Recover. You can easily preview files and switch view mode. Also, under the Type tab, you can efficiently filter files for recovery.

preview and recover

Once it finishes recovering, you will be able to find the once-disappeared folder in Finder.

Note: To be able to work properly, data recovery software will require read-only access to lost data from your startup drive. If the Steps to recover data on macOS High Sierra window pops up after you click the Scan button, please follow the 3-step instructions it gives to disable Mac’s System Integrity Protection. You can turn the protection on once the missing Documents folder is recovered.

turn off System Integrity Protection

It’s also possible to restore deleted or missing Mac Documents folder from Time Machine backup.

Step 1. Connect your Time Machine disk to Mac.

Step 2. Click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar at the top of your screen. Choose Enter Time Machine.

Step 3. In the lower right corner of the screen, you can scroll through the timeline and look for the backup made before the Documents folder went missing.

restore missing Documents folder from Time Machine

Step 4. Select the item(s) you need to restore and click Restore.


Don’t worry if the Documents folder on your Mac goes missing. In most cases, it’s still on your Mac, safe and sound. You can effortlessly bring it back. If, unfortunately, you have lost or deleted the folder or some files in it. It’s also easy to get them recovered. In addition, it’s strongly recommended to regularly backup Documents and other important folders on Mac.

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