There are various ways to recover lost or deleted files on a Mac computer. Some rely on native macOS capabilities. In other cases, you may need to use third-party recovery software. Before you consider using macOS capabilities or third-party software, a useful first step is to check whether your files really are lost or deleted.
1. Recover files from the Trash bin folder
You can use the search feature to make sure a file isn’t in your Trash bin folder. Click the search bar in the top-right corner of the Trash bin window. There you can enter the name of the deleted file. If you find it right-click on it and select the Put Back option to restore it. You can also drag it from the Trash window and drop it into a folder.
When the Trash is empty, you only have two options for recovering data: using a backup or using third-party software. Third-party data recovery software can even restore files that are permanently deleted. The best Mac recovery software is user-friendly and able to recover permanently deleted files.
2. Restore files from a Time Machine backup
If a deleted file isn’t in the Trash bin you can try using Time Machine. Time Machine is a built-in feature on a Mac that monitors your hard drive activity and creates backups of all new and modified files. When you open Time Machine, you can go back in time and display an older version of the folder where the lost file is still present. The following steps will help you to recover deleted files from a Time Machine backup.
- Connect the storage device that contains your Time Machine backup.
- Open the folder where your files were last located in Finder.
- Click the Time Machine icon located in the Menu Bar.
- Choose Enter Time Machine.
- Scroll back through Time Machine until the file appears in the Finder window.
- Select the file and click Restore to recover it.
Recover deleted files with Disk Drill
There are popular third-party data recovery software applications for Mac. It will help you to recover deleted Mac files from your internal hard drive and other digital storage devices. It can even restore files if the disk is corrupted. These apps are user-friendly so you can use any of them even if you have limited experience with file recovery.
To install, go to the official websites and download the installation file. Drag it to the Applications folder.
Apple imposes some restrictions so you need to grant access to the storage devices. You can do this by clicking the Lock icon on the bottom left of the Privacy tab in System Preferences. Select Full Disk Access and drag and drop the application icon into the Full Disk Access list. Now you can launch the app and follow the on-screen instructions to find and restore deleted files.
Recover deleted files from iCloud Drive
iCloud Drive is Apple’s cloud storage service. Files that you save on iCloud Drive can be recovered for up to 30 days after you delete them.
- Log in to iCloud.com.
- Click Settings.
- Click Restore Files.
- Click the checkbox next to each file you want to restore.
- Click the Restore button.
5. Recover deleted files using Terminal
The purpose of this solution is essentially to provide another way to access files in the Trash bin folder. When you need to recover deleted files quickly, this is a good option.
- Open Terminal through Utilities on Mac.
- Type the command cd. Trash and hit return.
- To view the Trash folder contents type ls -al ~/.
- Type mv filename ../ and hit Return again. You must type in the full file name and extension.
- Type Quit to exit Terminal.
Losing important files can be a very frustrating experience and might hamper your work or even land you in some professional trouble. As you can see from the above, there are various ways to recover lost or deleted files when using a Mac. Some ways use native macOS capabilities and others use third-party software. You can select a method that best suits your particular needs and circumstances.