[2023] 4 Proven Ways to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac

Rosa Reyes
May 24, 2023 Preview 21.2K Preview 1
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Photo loss is impossible to avoid on a Mac, there are several common reasons for causing this: accidental deletion, crashed photo editing, physical damage, and malware infection. While the most frequent cause for photo loss on Mac is an unintentional deletion.

If the photos went to the Mac Trash after a deletion, it's easy to restore. But things can be totally different if you have permanently deleted the photos in following cases:

  • Delete photos in Photos' Recently Deleted folder after 30 days
  • Permanently delete photos from Mac Trash bin
  • Deleted Mac photos are missing

To solve this, we write a guide to show you how to recover permanently deleted photos from iPhoto or Photos apps or other library on Mac, no matter you are using the latest MacBook Pro, Air or iMac versions.

Can You Recover Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac? Why?

Yes, we can.

When we permanently delete photos or other files in Mac Trash, it doesn’t mean that the files are completely and instantaneously erased. We just lost the portal to access to your files, which become invisible but are still stored on your Mac.

Deleting files can be done and finished in a flash, but erasing data, especially a large amount of data, takes minutes to end, which adversely impacts your MacBook or iMac’s performance and productivity. Therefore, when permanently deleting photos or other files on mac, Mac just marks the location where your photos were saved as available to add new files. If there are new files to be added, your deleted Photos will be overwritten and may be gone forever, that’s why stopping writing to your Mac is required if you want to recover deleted photos from Mac after emptying Trash bin.

The Easiest Way to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac 2023 (MacBook Included)

We well understand that your photos or files have been permanently deleted from your iPhoto or Photos app on Mac, and it seems that there is no need to check your Trash bin. But you are recommended to do so, maybe you can just find that your deleted photos lying there in Trash bin with a different file name. If there is no surprise, the easiest way to recover permanently deleted photos on Mac is using a professional data recovery program, and Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac is recommended.

Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac is able to detect and recover permanently deleted files such as photos (PNG, JPG, GIF, PSD, BMP, RAW, etc.), music files (ACC, MP3, M4A, FLAC, etc.), movies (DV, MKV, MOV, etc.), archives (ZIP, TAR, RAR, 7Z, etc.), emails and other files on Mac, external hard drive, USB flash drive, SD card and other storage devices. It works for almost all data loss scenarios: Empty the Trash, Permanently delete photos from iPhoto or Photos app, Upgrade your macOS, Format your drive by mistake…

Main Features of Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac

  • Recover permanently deleted photos from iPhoto or Photos app or other photo library/folder
  • Recover deleted photos from both internal and external hard drive
  • Restore photos, audios, videos, documents, archives, etc., 200+ types of file
  • Repair corrupted videos
  • Fix problematic images and documents from scan results
  • Scan records traceable to avoid repeated scanning
  • Preview recoverable items before recovery
  • Save recovered files to local drive or cloud storage platforms

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac after 30 Days?

  • Step 1. Download and install.
    Click on the button as following to download the program, then install it onto your Mac.
    Free Download
  • Step 2. Select the hard drive where you deleted or lost the photos.
    Go to Hardware Disk recovery and choose the disk from the list.recover deleted photos mac 01
  • Step 3. Scan to find permanently deleted photos on mac.
    Click Search for lost file, go to Type>Pictures, select the folder of a photo format. Or you can use the filter by entering keyword, file size or date created to find the deleted photos quickly.recover permanently deleted photos mac 02
  • Step 4. Recover permanently deleted photos on mac.
    Once you are done scanning, double click on the photos to preview and pick the files that you want to recover. Then click on Recover to get the permanently deleted photos back on Mac.recover permanently deleted photos mac

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from Mac Free (Freeware Solution)?

If you are looking for a free solution, freeware tools like PhotoRec are available. PhotoRec restores deleted photos, audios, videos, documents and others from both internal and external hard disk, it supports common file systems like FAT, NTFS and exFAT. When you launch it on your Mac, it will open a Terminal window, where you can use Arrow keys to select options and press Enter for next step, based on the instructions offered on the interface. If you don’t feel confident with Terminal, then you can just ignore this tool. In some cases such as RAW photos recovery, PhotoRec won’t completely recover all the files, which means you may lose a little bit of data.

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from Mac Free?

  1. Download and install PhotoRec to your Mac.
  2. Run the program with Terminal, enter your Mac user password.recover photos mac free01
  3. Select the Mac disk where you saved the photos and press Enter to continue.recover photos mac free02
  4. Choose the Partition type and press Enter to continue.recover photos from mac free03
  5. Choose filesystem type and press Enter to continue.recover photos mac free04
  6. Then choose the destination to save the recovered photos on Mac and enter C to start the photo recovery process.recover photos mac free05
  7. Check the recovery status and go to the destination folder, preview the recovered photos on you Mac.recover photos mac free06

Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from Mac Free with Time Machine Backup

Also, you can recover permanently deleted photos and files on Mac for free without third-party software if Time Machine backup is available. As you know, Time Machine is the backup application to save your files to an external storage device. If there is any data loss, you can get the files back from your Time Machine backup effortlessly. 

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from Mac with Time Machine?

  1. Connect the external hard drive you use with Time Machine to your Mac.
  2. From the top-right menu bar, click the Time Machine icon and select Enter Time Machine.enter time machine
  3. In the lower right corner of the screen, you can scroll back and forth in search of the data and time when you last did a backup. In Finder, navigate to the folder from which you inadvertently deleted needed files, say, some important photos.
  4. Once you locate the photos, select them and click the Restore button. The photos will be restored to their original locations on your Mac’s hard drive.recover permanently deleted files on Mac from Time Machine backup

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from iCloud on Mac

In the case that you have backed up the permanently deleted photos on iCloud and didn’t enable the sync feature, you can recover the Mac photos from iCloud via re-downloading. This is also very useful to recover recently deleted photos that are missing on your Mac. 

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from iCloud?

  1. Go to icloud.com on your Mac, log in with your Apple account.
  2. Find iCloud Drive icon and double-click to enter it.restore from icloud01
  3. Find the permanently deleted photos, select it and click on the Download button to restore the photos back to your Mac.restore from icloud 02


If you are on the Finder or Desktop, you can immediately search for deleted Photos in the Trash. If the Trash does not have such files, open Time Machine and look for files from the exact time before deletion, and press restore. If any of the above free data recoveries can't resolve your problem, go for a trial version of the Cisdem Data Recovery program. Download, install and mount it on your MacBook, iMac, or Mac Pro/mini, it will restore your permanently deleted photos without a hassle!

Rosa Reyes
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Rosa has worked in Mac software industry for more than eight years. She believes that the purpose of software is to make life better and work more productively. In addition to writing, Rosa is also an avid runner.

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  • Renaud

    I used both PhotoRec and Cisdem Data Recovery to recover my lost travel photos. I love Cisdem better. Although PhotoRec takes no money, it is much more difficult to operate in recovery process compared with Cisdem.

    0 months ago Reply

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