4 Proven Ways to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac in 2021

Rosa Reyes
time March 16, 2021 Preview 11.1K
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Photo loss is impossible to avoid on a Mac, and there are several common explanations why it happens: accidental deletion, crashed photo editing, physical damage, and malware infection. While the most frequent cause for photo loss on Mac is an unintentional deletion, which mostly occurs as users organize their images and delete duplications. 

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 or others in your Trash Bin. 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.

Why We Can Recover Permanently Deleted or Other Files from Mac?

When we permanently delete photo 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, they become invisible on your Mac, but the data is still stored on your Mac.

Why? 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 added to your Mac, 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 lost or deleted data from Mac.

The Easiest Way to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac 2021

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, archive, etc, 200+ types;
  • Restore from internal hard drive on mac, from external storage devices: SD, SDHC, USB, Media Player, etc.;
  • 5 recovery modes: Basic, Advanced, Trash, Formatted Drive, External Devices;

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac?

  • 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 a recovery mode.
    Five types of solutions to bring back missing or deleted files are present. You need to choose the one that fits your requirements and proceed. five data recovery solutions
  • Step 3. Scan to find permanently deleted photos on mac.
    You preview the data in full detail while scanning. However, you can stop searching when you see the required photos in the preview list. When you stop the search, move to step 4.scan for deleted files
  • Step 4. Recover permanently deleted photos on mac.
    Once you are done scanning, pick the files that you want to recover. Then click on Recover to get back the permanently deleted photos on Mac.preview and recover photos

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from Mac Free?

If you are looking for a free solution, freeware tools like PhotoRec are available. It 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 open it on your Mac, it will open a Terminal window, you can use Arrow keys to select and press Enter to go to next step, there will be instructions offered on the interface. If you don’t feel confident with Terminal, then you can just ignore the tool. In some cases such as RAW photos recovery, it won’t completely recover all the files, and 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 on Mac Free with Time Machine Backup

Also, you can easily 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 devices, if there is any data loss, you can get the files back from your Time Machine backup. 

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

  • Step 1. Connect to your Mac the external hard drive you use with Time Machine.
  • Step 2. From the top menu bar, click the Time Machine icon and select Enter Time Machine
  • Step 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 family photos.
  • Step 4. Once you locate the photos, select them and click the Restore button. The photos will be restored to your Mac’s hard drive.recover permanently deleted files on Mac from Time Machine backup

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos on Mac from iCloud

In the case that you have backed up the permanently photos on iCloud and didn’t enable the sync feature, you can recover the permanently deleted photos on Mac from iCloud via re-downloading.

  1. Go to icloud.com on your Mac, login in;
  2. In the iCloud Settings menu, choose iCloud Drive;restore from icloud01
  3. Find the permanently deleted photos, select it and click on the Download button to restore the photos 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 don't support you and you 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 or other files on Mac.

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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