7 Ways to Recover Emptied Trash on Mac Free or Without Software

Connie Wisley
May 13, 2024 Preview 12.3K Preview 2
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All the files that moved to trash will stay in your Mac Trash bin and you can turn back to cancel the deleting by putting them back at anytime. Even if you accidentally emptied Trash bin, as long as we take actions quickly, it is still possible to recover the emptied Trash bin on your Mac. 

This article outlines 7 ways on how to recover emptied or deleted Trash on Mac, for free, even without using any 3rd party software. 


Recovering emptied Trash on Mac is not an easy task, even though you can restore without software, you have to use a backup. Using data recovery software is the best bet, like Cisdem, which is neither expensive nor complex.




Can I Recover Emptied Trash on Mac?

Yes, we can.

Usually, when you move files to Trash, they are not permanently deleted. You can easily restore them by putting them back. But if you empty the Trash bin, are these files gone for good?

No! In fact, the erased files still remain on your Mac hard drive. When you permanently delete files or empty the Trash, you only lose their directory entries. That means you are not allowed to access or view them in normal way. Meanwhile, the spaces of trashed files are marked as free and can be occupied by new files you add. Once overwritten by new data, the deleted or emptied files would become unrecoverable.

So stop working with the hard drive where Trash was emptied to avoid file overwritten, and take quick actions to recover lost files, this is just why a dedicated data recovery program is highly recommended because of its high recovery rate.


How to Recover Deleted Files from An Emptied Trash on Mac?

To recover deleted files from emptied Trash bin on Mac, one of the most important issues to address is how many files can be brought back. To get the highest recovery rate, it makes sense to use a professional Mac Trash recovery tool, which avoids recovering files in vain.

Cisdem Data Recovery can be your first option in this case. Due to its powerful recovery ability, fast scan speed and easy-to-use UI, it is highly evaluated and recommended by users even those tech authorities. Cisdem can be used to recover deleted or emptied Trash files in different scenarios:

  • Accidentally or mistakenly deleted files from Trash bin.
  • Tap “Empty Trash” button from the Trash window.
  • Press Command + Shift + Delete keys to delete files from Trash.
  • Press Command + Option + Shift + Delete to empty Trash without warning.
  • Right click the Trash icon in Dock and select “Empty Trash” or “Secure Empty Trash”.
  • Enable the "Remove items from the Trash after 30 days" option in Finder Preferences.
  • Use third-party data erase tool to erase the Trash files.

This Mac trash recovery tool is 100% safe to use on Mac running macOS 10.9 or above. It can recover nearly all deleted files from your Trash, Mac hard drive, even external storage devices. By supporting files in 200+ formats, like video, audio, photo, this tool helps you recover all types of file. Also, it supports repairing damaged videos, images and even documents.

How to Restore Files from Trash on Mac after Emptying?

  • Step 1. Run Cisdem Data Recovery on your Mac.
    Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery on your Mac, then launch the program for scanning.
    Free Download macOS 10.9 or later
  • Step 2. Choose the location.
    Go to Hardware Disk, choose the Mac hard drive to recover your deleted files.recover emptied trash mac01
  • Step 3. Start scanning.
    Click “Search for lost files” to find the trashed files. Go to Type and check files under different folders. Or you can use the filter to quickly search files with keyword, file size, date created or modified.cisdem data recovery
  • Step 4. Preview and recover the found files in Mac Trash.
    Double click on the files to preview. Then select them and recover to local drive or cloud as you like.


How to Recover Emptied Trash on Mac for Free?

Like many other users new to this recovery issue, you may be looking for a possible way to recover emptied Trash on Mac for free. And luckily, we do have solutions to do so.

Part 1. How to Recover Emptied Trash on Mac Without Software Free?

The premise of adopting this option without downloading any 3-rd party software is, you have backed up the Trash files in your external hard drive or online storage services. For your reference, 4 kinds of backup platforms will be explored as following.

Option 1. Recover Emptied Trash Mac Free from Time Machine

If you have turned on Time Machine for backup, then there are possibilities to recover emptied Trash from Mac Time Machine.

Steps to recover files from emptied Mac Trash without software
  • Step 1. Click Time Machine in the menu bar and select “Enter Time Machine”.
  • Step 2. Then a window pops up. And you will see all your backup files. Use the timeline or on-screen up and down arrows to locate the Trash files you need.
  • Step 3. Select the files and tap “Restore” to restore them from Time Machine

If Time Machine is not turned on, how to recover emptied Trash on Mac without Time Machine? Please keep reading.


Option 2. Recover Emptied Trash Mac Free from iCloud

If you set up iCloud Drive on your Mac and store your files into it, the files will be synced with your iCloud account. So you may find a backup of your Trashed files in iCloud. 

Steps to recover Mac files from emptied Trash without software
  • Step 1. Sign into icloud.com with your Apple ID and password on Mac.recover from icloud 01
  • Step 2. Choose iCloud Drive.recover from icloud 02
  • Step 3. Select the files that you emptied from your Trash bin, click “Download” icon to save the selected files to your Mac.recover from icloud 03

For files you can not find in your iCloud Drive, go to iCloud Drive Settingshomepage > Data Recovery > Restore Files, choose the files to restore, then download them to your Mac.recover from icloud 04

Option 3. Recover Emptied Trash on Mac Free from Google Drive

It is much likely that you are a Google user and benefit a lot from using the Google Drive service. If you have a habit to back up files in Google Drive, it would be possible for you to do a free Mac Trash recovery.

Steps to recover emptied Mac Trash bin without software
  • Step 1. Login into your Google account.
  • Step 2. Go to Google Drive.
  • Step 3. Right click on the file you want to recover from emptied Trash bin, choose “Download”. download to google drive
  • Step 4. Choose output folder as needed to save the files.

For files you cannot find in Google Drive, go to Trash, then find the files and right click to choose “Restore”.


Option 4. Check Attachments to Recover Emptied Trash Mac Free

Moreover, another backup option that most people could ignore is checking attachments in your mail box or messaging app. That’s because your trashed files might be received or sent as attachments via email or message previously.

Therefore, it’s a good try to recover deleted files from Mac Trash free by looking for attached files from your messenger archives or email history and downloading them again.

In fact, as you can see, for any important files that you have accidentally deleted from your Trash bin, if there is a backup in built-in utility, online storage service, email box, or file transfer program, there is always a way to recover them back in similar manner.


Part 2. How to Recover Emptied Trash on Mac with Software Free?

Don’t have a backup or need some time to evaluate Cisdem Data Recovery? Here is the free solution with free software.

Speaking of the best free Mac data recovery program, PhotoRec stands above others all, and has done for a long time. This open source software is dedicated in recovering photos from external and internal storage devices. Though there are not full features, it does more than just restoring photos, it can also recover videos, audios, documents and so on.

The interface is not user-friendly, same as other command-based programs, it is difficult to use. But it is worth spending some time to get familiar with it, since it is free, and can practically recover emptied Trash files.

Steps to recover emptied Trash on Mac for free

  1. Download PhotoRec from https://www.cgsecurity.org/, install it on your Mac.
  2. Select the disk where your Trash bin is located.recover trash photorec01
  3. Select the partition.recover trash photorec02
  4. Select the file system where your trashed files were stored.recover trash photorec03
  5. Choose output folder to store the recovered files.recover trash photorec04
  6. Start the recovery process and check the retrieved files in the output folder.recover trash photorec05

Last Trick: Recover Items from Emptied Trash Mac with Data Recovery Service

So far, once sadly you don’t succeed to perform the Mac Trash recovery, the end wit to recover emptied Mac Trash is contacting data recovery service center. When the Trash files are detected to be recoverable, restoring data from an emptied Trash with a data recovery service must be the most expensive one among all the recovery solutions, but in some specific cases it’s the most trustworthy choice.

Just search online to pick a reliable data recovery service, contact it for a recovery estimate, then ship your Mac hard drive to the recovery center, and wait for the technicians to retrieve your Trash files with specialized software or hardware.


Clarification of Mac Trash Recovery

  It's impossible to recover emptied Trash through Mac Terminal.

We noticed that many articles suggest users to recover emptied Trash using Terminal, running commands on your Mac to get trashed files back to their original locations. Well, this is quite misleading. Terminal only allows recovering deleted files that you have moved to Trash bin, but cannot restore files from emptied Trash. In other words, Terminal just puts deleted files from Trash back to original storage path, it cannot restore permanently deleted files. 

  It's impossible to recover emptied Trash with Undo Command.

We may know that Mac computer keeps track of every action you perform, allowing users to undo recent changes to files. Don’t be deceived by it. The Undo command (or Command+Z) won’t work if you need to reverse the emptied/deleted Trash and cancel the permanent removal of trashed files.


Final Words

If you’ve tried to recover emptied Trash files with backup and your files are still not back, talk or visit a local data recovery expert, by searching “data recovery services near me” online, you will get a list of local services to recover your files on Mac. 

But if you feel unnecessary to do this, the easiest way to recover emptied Trash on Mac is absolutely to use the best Mac Trash recovery tool --- Cisdem, which guarantees a high recovery rate. 

Connie Wisley
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Connie has been writing for Mac productivity and utility apps since 2009. Each review and solution is based on her practical tests, she is aways energetic and trustworthy in this field.

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Comments (2) Leave a Reply

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  • Sherry

    You're right, Connie. Using Terminal or Undo Command cannot recover my emptied Mac Trash. Some bloggers are really misleading. Though PhotoRec is free to use, I'm not that tech-savvy to deal with the complex commands. So I choose Cisdem. Thanks. It did well.

    0 months ago commonReply

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  • Jennie

    I don't have a backup, so I tried the data recovery tool, it helped.

    4 years ago commonReply

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