How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac with/without Software

Jose Henline
May 23, 2018 Preview 30.4K Preview 6
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I deleted some necessary files by mistake, how can I get the deleted files back on Mac? Is it possible to recover deleted files on Mac after emptied Trash? When browsing the Apple Support Community, we can easily find many users talking about similar files recovery related problems. Here is a comprehensive summary of how to recover deleted files on Mac.

How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac without Additional Software

Although Apple doesn’t offer undelete button to restore deleted files, there are so many possibilities to recover deleted files on Mac without software. You can follow below guides to recover the deleted files before they are gone for good.

Recover Deleted Files on Mac from Trash

When you delete files on Mac, they always go to Trash bin. So if the files have been deleted recently, there is a chance that the files could be in the Trash and you can recover deleted files from the Trash.

Step 1. Click the Trash icon in Dock.

Step 2. Preview and find the recently deleted files in Trash.

Step 3. Just right click on the items in the Trash and then choose "Put Back". The deleted files will be restored in their original folder.

If you want to recover deleted photos and music on Mac, the steps are different. Check the guide below.

Recover Deleted Photos on Mac

If you have deleted photos from Photos app on your Mac, then you can’t find them in Trash bin. When you delete photos from the Photos app in less than 30 days, you can recover deleted photos on Mac from Recently Deleted Folder. Go to Recently Deleted Album, you'll see a list of photos you've deleted and select the photos you want to recover, at last click the Recover button at the top right.

If you have deleted photos in more than 30 days, your photos will be erased. You can only recover them from backup or using Mac photo recovery software.

Recover Deleted Music Files on Mac

When you delete Music from iTunes library, they are usually moved to Trash or kept in iTunes Media folder. If the music files are deleted to Trash, you can directly drag them to the desktop. In iTunes, choose Preference in iTunes menu, navigate to Advanced tab and make sure there is a tick in the box marked 'Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library'.

Then click File from the iTunes menu bar to choose “Add to Library…” and select the recovered music files, at last all deleted music files will reappear in your iTunes library.

Recover Deleted Files on Mac using Terminal

  1. Open Terminal application on your Mac.
  2. Type in the following Terminal command: cd .Trash. Hit Return.
  3. Then type in the name of the file you would like to recover using the following command: mv xxx. Replace the "xxx" part of the full name of the file you deleted. Hit the "Return".
  4. Type Quit in the Terminal and press the "Command" and "F" keys simultaneously to launch the Finder.
  5. Enter the name of the deleted file in the search bar.
  6. Click on the file you found in Finder and drag it onto your desktop or the location you wish to save the file. Then close the window.

Recover Deleted Files on Mac from Time Machine

If you have turned on Time Machine, you may have backed up the files between your last edit (if any were recent) and deleting them. Follow below guide to recover deleted files on Mac even from emptied Trash by using Time Machine. Or you can view detailed steps to retrieve deleted files from Time Machine: How to Restore from Time Machine on Mac.

Step 1. Click the Time Machine icon in menu bar and choose “Enter Time Machine”. 

Step 2. A window pops up and you can use the arrows and timeline to browse the local snapshots and backups.

Step 3. Find the deleted files you want and then click “Restore” to recover deleted files to their original location.

Recover Deleted Files on Mac from Other Backups

If you have uploaded the files before deleted to online cloud storage services like iCloud Drive and Dropbox or cloned your drives regularly as an extra backup insurance policy, then your files may still be there. You can go to the cloud website or check the cloned copies and search for deleted files, and then select and restore them.

However, if none of above ways works, you still can follow the guide below to recover deleted files from Mac. And you must stop using your Mac to store new data immediately since the deleted files are overwritten by new data, it will be impossible to recover them.

Fast Way to Recover Deleted Files on Mac from Emptied Trash Bin

However, to recover deleted files on Mac, more and more users prefer to a piece of professional data recovery program. Since those solutions without using software won’t work all the time, especially when your Trash Bin is emptied, or your deleted files are hidden deeply. And in fact, a dedicated Mac Data Recovery app is always the best choice for users, if you want to recover your deleted files successfully.

Cisdem Data Recovery, in terms of capability and efficiency to recover deleted files, is the best pick for mac users. It is designed to recover deleted photos, emails, videos and other documents from Mac, hard drives, flash drives, memory cards, etc. In addition, it is easy to use and can fast recover your deleted files. With Cisdem Data Recovery, you can:

  • Recover deleted files under any situations: from emptied Trash, deleted by using "Cmd + Shift + Del" button, deleted by choosing “Empty Trash”, accidently power-off and more; 
  • Recover more than 200 unique file formats: pictures, videos, audio, emails, documents, folders, archives, etc.
  • Repair corrupted videos in many formats
  • Recover form any storage devices & disk formats: Mac hard drives, external hard drives, Mac notebooks, desktops, Mac server, USB drive, camcorder, memory cards, SD card, digital camera, mobile phone, laptop, MP3, MP4 player and more;
  • Recover data in 3 steps with 30X faster speed;
  • Allow to check and preview the found data to select specific files for recovering;
  • 100% clean and only require read-only access to devices.
  • Free lifetime upgrade…

Free Download

Steps to recover deleted files on Mac

  1. Launch Cisdem Data Recovery on Mac.
  2. Select the drive to find deleted files from emptied Trash. 
    Select the drive that you need to recover deleted files from and then click the “Search for lost files” button to start scanning. select and scan drive
  3. Preview and recover deleted files on Mac. 
    When data recovery is done scanning, you will be shown a list of the files it has found. When you find a potential file, use the preview feature to know if the file is fully recoverable. Once you have selected your files, select the location where you want to store the recovered files and then click the “Recover” button.preview and recover

Congratulations! You now know how to restore & recover deleted files on Mac OS. Also, you can watch the video to recover your deleted files on mac instantly and successfully.

FAQ about How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac

Q: What situations can lead to data loss?

A: There are many situations that can lead to data loss, such as accidental deletion, securely emptied Trash, mistaken operation, permanently deleting files by using "Cmd + Shift + Del" button, unplanned formatting, power surges, etc. And there is no need to get worried when you lose Mac files either from hard drives or from Trash, this is because all those deleted or lost files can be easily recovered.

Q: Why is it possible to recover deleted files on Mac?

A: When you delete some important Mac files by mistake, it doesn’t mean you lose them permanently; you just remove the entry of the file from hard drive directory instead of the file itself. It continues existing on your hard drive, even after you empty it from the Trash Bin.

As long as new files have not overwritten your deleted files, there is a good chance that you can recover them on Mac with some third-party file recovery software like Cisdem Data Recovery.

Q: Is there a recently deleted folder on Mac?

A: In Photos app, there is a Recently Deleted folder that stores photos deleted in less than 30 days. When you delete documents, music and other files on Mac, they are moved to Trash. You can restore them anytime as long as the Trash has not been emptied.

Q: How to recover deleted files with free software?

A: Many users want to recover deleted files for free. For Windows users, there are some free data recovery software like Recuva. But for Mac users, there are none. Many Mac data recovery software claim to be free, but they only allow you to recover files with limited size and features. So buying a full version of Mac data recovery is unavoidable.

Q: How do I recover permanently deleted photos from Mac?

A: You can try Cisdem Data Recovery to scan and recover permanently deleted pictures on Mac. And this app also allows you to recover other permanently deleted files like documents, videos, music files, etc.

Q: How to recover deleted photos from a memory card?

A: First, you need to connect your memory card to your Mac via card reader. Second, open Cisdem Data Recovery and choose scan mode, then select the memory card for scanning. Third, preview all found photos and select the ones you need to recover. At last, tap Recover button. These steps can also be available for any external storage devices like SD card, USB drive, external hard drive.

Q: Where are recovered Word files stored on Mac?

A: Cisdem Data Recovery allows you to store the recovered files in specific location. If you mean where stores the AutoRecover word files, you can check this guide for details: How to Recover Word Document on Mac

Q: How do I recover overwritten files on Mac?

A: If you have turned on Time Machine backup or use internet-hosted backup system, like Crashplan or Backblaze, you may have one or more previous versions of the file or even the latest version stored. Then you can find the version you want and restore it after overwritten.

Things You Should Remember to Protect your Mac

  • Always shut down your Mac properly cause that abrupt shut down leads to physical and logical damage.
  • Download any third-party apps from reliable resources to avoid virus attacks.
  • Install reliable antivirus app to protect Mac system from external threats.
  • Turn on the firewall to block any unwanted incoming network connections. Navigate to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall tab, and click the padlock icon at the bottom left to unlock system settings. Then click the Turn On Firewall button. You can click Firewall Options to make changes.
  • Backup Mac files to other places or upload them to cloud. You can also clone the whole hard drive for backup.
  • When using external storage devices like SD cards, external hard drive and USB drive, eject them properly.
  • If you always use Mac in public places, there are more things you should pay attention to. For more info: How to Secure Your Mac in Public Places
  • Get a Mac data recovery tool like Cisdem Data Recovery and you can recover deleted files on Mac in time.

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Jose Henline
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Jose specializes in reviews, how-to guides, top lists, etc. on PDF, data recovery and multi-media. On his spare time, he likes to travel or challenge some extreme sports.

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Comments (6) Leave a Reply

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  • Solar65

    It have done so well in recovering my deleted photos.

    7 years ago commonReply

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  • Gagnon54

    Very comprehensive list!

    8 years ago commonReply

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  • Debbie

    This program is asking for a registration code. Do I need to buy this software before I can use it?

    8 years ago commonReply

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    • Rosa Reyes

      I'm afraid yes, but at a very competitive and worthy cost when compared with other applications in the market.

      8 years ago
  • Thériault

    hello, rosa, thanks for your tips. Thumbs up!:)

    8 years ago commonReply

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  • Messia Smith

    Just forgot when I deleted my "meeting records" and "meeting photos" folders in my Mac. I thought I deleted it by accident. I tried the mentioned software. Good job! Almost 600 files have been found in minutes. Thanks a lot...

    8 years ago commonReply

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