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Effective Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Mac

Effective Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Mac

Losing important files on a Mac can be a frustrating experience, but fortunately, there are several ways to recover them. Whether you accidentally deleted the files, formatted your disk, or your computer crashed, tools like Disk Drill can come to your rescue. This detailed guide outlines multiple methods to help you recover deleted files on your Mac. Learning how to navigate file recovery techniques not only saves your valuable data but also boosts your confidence in managing your system efficiently. From utilizing built-in features to leveraging third-party applications, here are the best ways to recover deleted files on your Mac. For more insights on this topic, Apple Discussions offers an excellent thread on how to recover deleted files on mac.


Common Scenarios:

Accidental Deletion of Files 🗑

  • One of the most common scenarios is deleting a file by mistake. You might have intended to delete a different file or simply clicked the wrong button.

Accidentally deleting important files happens to everyone. In such cases, the deleted files usually end up in the Trash folder, but if you’ve emptied the trash, the files aren’t entirely gone—they’re just harder to retrieve.

Emptying the Trash 🗑

  • This is a step further from accidental deletion. If you’ve emptied the Trash, recovering files becomes more challenging, but still possible.

Emptying the Trash doesn’t permanently erase the files; it just makes them invisible to the system. Tools like Disk Drill can still recover these files by scanning your storage drive.

Disk Formatting 🔄

  • Formatting a disk inadvertently removes all the files on it. This often happens when users are trying to set up a new file system or repartition the disk.

Formatting the disk usually erases all data on it, but with advanced software, many files can still be recovered. Using specialized applications such as Disk Drill can help retrieve most of the lost data even after a disk format.


Step-by-Step Guide. How To Recover Deleted Files On Mac:

Method 1: Using Disk Drill 🛠

  • First, download and install Disk Drill from its official website.
  • Launch the application and grant it the necessary permissions for disk access.
  • Select the storage device from which you want to recover files.
  • Click the ‘Search for lost data’ button to begin the scanning process.
  • Once the scan completes, review the list of recoverable files and select the ones you wish to restore, then click ‘Recover’.

Note: Disk Drill offers a user-friendly interface and powerful recovery capabilities, making it highly recommended for file recovery on Mac.

Conclusion: Disk Drill is a versatile tool that provides an easy and effective way to recover deleted files on a Mac. Its comprehensive features allow you to retrieve files lost due to various reasons, ensuring your data is never permanently gone.

Method 2: Using Time Machine ⏳

  • Connect your Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  • Open the Time Machine application from the Menu bar or System Preferences.
  • Navigate to the folder or location where the lost files were originally stored.
  • Use the timeline on the side to go back to a date before the files were deleted.
  • Select the files you want to restore and click the ‘Restore’ button.

Note: Ensure that your Time Machine backups are up-to-date to avoid data loss. Regular backups can save you a lot of trouble.

Conclusion: Time Machine is a built-in Mac feature that simplifies file recovery. Regularly using it for backups ensures that even if files are deleted, they can be easily restored.

Method 3: Utilizing the Trash 🗑

  • Open the Trash folder located on the right side of your Dock.
  • Browse through the deleted files in the Trash.
  • Find the files you want to restore.
  • Right-click on the files and select ‘Put Back’.

Note: This method works only if you haven’t emptied the Trash after deleting the files.

Conclusion: The Trash folder is your first go-to place for recovering recently deleted items. It’s simple and straightforward and should always be checked first before trying other methods.

Method 4: Recovering from iCloud Drive ☁

  • Open a web browser and go to the iCloud website.
  • Log in with your Apple ID and password.
  • Navigate to the iCloud Drive section.
  • Browse through the available files to find the deleted item.
  • Select the file and click on the download or restore button.

Note: Files deleted from iCloud Drive can often be found in the ‘Recently Deleted’ folder within 30 days after deletion.

Conclusion: iCloud Drive provides an efficient way to back up and restore your files. As long as you have your Apple ID credentials, recovering files from iCloud is relatively easy and secure.

Method 5: Using Recent Files 📁

  • Open the Finder application on your Mac.
  • Navigate to the Recents section in the sidebar.
  • Look through the list of recent files to locate the one you deleted.
  • Right-click on the file and choose ‘Restore’ or ‘Move to a desired folder’.

Note: This method works best for files that were recently used and not permanently deleted.

Conclusion: The Recent Files feature in Finder is convenient for quickly recovering recently deleted files. It’s an effective way to find files that you have recently worked on without diving into deeper recovery methods.

Method 6: Recovering from Email Attachments 📧

  • Open your email client and search for past emails that may contain the deleted files as attachments.
  • Use keywords to filter through emails more efficiently.
  • Locate the email with the desired attachment.
  • Download the attachment back to your Mac.

Note: This method works well for documents and files that you have shared or received via email.

Conclusion: Email attachments can serve as an unexpected backup for crucial files. Always check your inbox and sent items for files that might have been shared or received.

Method 7: Using File Retrieval Services 🔍

  • If standard recovery methods fail, consult a professional data recovery service.
  • Search for reliable file retrieval services in your area or online.
  • Contact the service for a diagnostic test and quote.
  • Send your device or disk to the service to recover your files.

Note: Professional services can be costly but often provide the highest success rate for complex data recovery scenarios.

Conclusion: Professional data recovery services are a last resort but can recover files that are otherwise deemed unrecoverable. They have specialized tools and expertise to tackle severe data loss situations.


Watch on Youtube: Effective Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Mac


Precautions and Tips:

Proactive Strategies to Prevent Data Loss 💡

  • Regular Backups: Schedule regular backups using Time Machine or other backup software to safeguard your data.
  • Cloud Storage: Utilize cloud storage solutions like iCloud Drive, Google Drive, or Dropbox for additional backup.
  • File Organization: Keep your files organized to avoid accidental deletion and ensure easy retrieval.
  • Disk Maintenance: Periodically check your storage disks for errors and repair them to prevent data loss.

Taking proactive measures can save you from the hassle of recovering deleted files. Regular backups, cloud storage, and proper file management can significantly reduce the chances of permanent data loss.

Essential Habits for Digital Safety 🚨

  • Immediate Action: As soon as you realize files are missing, act quickly to recover them before they get overwritten.
  • Use Data Recovery Software: Have trusted data recovery software like Disk Drill installed in advance.
  • Regular Software Updates: Keep your system and recovery software up to date to ensure optimal performance.
  • Avoid Suspicious Downloads: Do not download files from untrusted sources as they may corrupt your system or cause data loss.

Combining these habits with the right tools will help you maintain your system’s integrity and reduce the likelihood of experiencing severe data loss.


Additional Tips

For users keen on adopting additional high-authority tools and keeping their Macs in optimal condition, DiskWarrior and TechTool Pro are excellent software options. DiskWarrior specializes in preventing and repairing disk-related issues, ensuring your Mac runs smoothly and reducing the risk of data loss. TechTool Pro is another comprehensive solution that not only offers file recovery but also performs diagnostics to preemptively catch potential hardware problems.

Investing in external hard drives for backup is also a wise decision. Products like the Seagate Backup Plus or the WD My Passport provide reliable external storage solutions. These drives often come with their backup software, simplifying the entire process of keeping your data safe.

Moreover, keep your Mac updated with the latest OS and security patches. Newer updates often contain critical fixes and enhancements that improve system stability and data security. Refer to Apple’s official support page for guidelines on updating your Mac.

Finally, leveraging mobile storage solutions like SanDisk’s iXpand Flash Drive helps ensure your most important files are copied onto a portable drive. This hybrid approach—using both cloud and physical backups—ensures that you always have a copy of your critical data, accessible anytime and anywhere.


Recovering deleted files on a Mac doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By utilizing tools like Disk Drill, built-in features like Time Machine, and cloud services such as iCloud, you can efficiently restore your lost files. Remember, the key to managing data loss is timely action coupled with regular backups and proactive strategies.

For more comprehensive details and community assistance, you can always explore the focused thread on how to recover deleted files on mac at Apple Discussions. If initial recovery efforts don’t yield results, contacting professional data recovery services can make a significant difference. Following these methods ensures that you are thoroughly prepared to tackle any file loss scenario in the future.

Top 5 Best Data Recovery Software of 2024: An Unbiased Review for Mac & Windows Users, Based on Reddit Recommendations


Open the Trash, locate the file, right-click on it, and select Put Back to restore it to its original location.

Navigate to the Time Machine interface, find the file from a previous backup, and click Restore to recover it to your Mac.

Consider using third-party tools like Disk Drill for deep system scans and effective file recovery.

Log in to your cloud service (like iCloud), browse your files, and download the desired file to your Mac.

Open Terminal and use commands like cd ~/.Trash to navigate to the trash and move files back to their original locations.

Disconnect and reconnect the drive, then use the Disk Utility to verify/repair the disk, or recover files using recovery software.

Check if the file is stored in hidden locations by modifying Finder preferences to show hidden files using Shift+Command+..

Time Machine backups or cloud syncs may retain previous versions, allowing retrieval of earlier copies.

Consistent backups using Time Machine or cloud storage make file recovery straightforward should accidental deletions happen.

Third-party tools like EaseUS offer additional recovery options with advanced scanning capabilities for locating lost data.