Tuesday, May 28, 2024

    How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac?

    Summary: Accidentally deleted some important files on Mac? Looking for a proven solution to restore them? Here are some reliable methods to help you undelete files on macOS Catalina and earlier.

    recover deleted files on Mac

    It takes nothing but a keystroke or mouse click to delete a file. However, there’s still no undelete button on your keyboard after emptying the Trash.

    Imagine this scene: You’ve spent hours editing a working document. When you intend to send it to your leader, you accidentally hit the delete button. Or you deleted some files and emptied the Trash to clean up your Mac but realized that you needed one of the files back.

    Most people may have experienced that horrible stomach-churning pang of dread. No worries. This article is going to show you 4 ways to recover recently or permanently deleted files with and without software.

    Is it Possible to Recover Deleted Files?

    Sure, it’s possible to recover deleted files and bring them back to the world, whether the files deleted by moving to the Trash, by emptying the Trash, or by the Command+Shift+Delete command. When you delete files, all the system really does is to remove the relevant information of the files and to mark the space that the files were taking up as free and available for use. Nothing actually happens to the files until any new file is saved in the same location.

    Note: If you deleted files on Mac, you should stop doing any operation on your device immediately, including saving new files or editing existing documents. Doing this will ensure that no write operation is performed on the device and increase the chances of successful data recovery.

    How to Undo Undelete in Finder?

    If the last thing you did in the Finder was to delete a file or files, you can select Edit from the top menu and choose Undo Move,  or press Command+Z, then the items return to their previous positions.

    How to Restore Deleted Files from Trash?

    Trash is a place where your deleted files are saved temporarily. If you recently deleted files, you can check it first.

    Step 1: Open the Trash in the Dock.

    Step 2: Locate the file/folder you would like to recover. Step 3: Right-click on it and choose Put Back or drag the file to the desktop.

    Restore deleted files from Mac Trash

    You’ve scoured the Trash but no sign of needed files? Here are three reasons why you can’t find deleted files. Firstly, you may have emptied the Trash after deleting. Secondly, you’ve deleted files by using the Command+Shift+Delete command and the files bypass the Trash. Thirdly, if you have enabled the option called Remove items from the Trash after 30 days, your deleted files will be emptied from the Trash automatically after 30 days.

    How to Recover Deleted Files with Time Machine?

    Can’t find any deleted files in the Trash? You may find the files in Time Machine. It is a built-in tool available in macOS, which works with a number of devices to back up your data. If you have enabled Time Machine on your Mac to automatically and periodically back up your personal data, you can restore deleted files with ease. Steps are as follows:

    Step 1: From the macOS menu bar, click Time Machine > Enter Time Machine.

    Step 2: Click the up arrow to navigate to the time before the deletion of files.

    Step 3: Locate the files from the backup Finder window.

    Step 4: Click spacebar to preview a file, select the deleted files, and click Restore.

    Restore deleted files from Time Machine backups

    How to Recover Deleted Files from the Cloud?

    If you have been using a cloud-based platform, like iCloud or Dropbox, for your file management, you can typically restore deleted or lost files from some types of trash folders offered by the cloud providers. Take iCloud as an example:

    Step 1: Open Safari and connect to the iCloud website.

    Step 2: Once signed into iCloud.com, click the Settings button.

    Step 3: Scroll to the bottom of the screen, find Restore Files below the Advanced section, and then click it.

    Step 4: Select each file you want to restore or click Select All.

    How to Recover Deleted Files Using Terminal?

    macOS also provides a command-line method of recovering deleted files, but this method only works when you don’t empty the Trash.

    Step 1: Go to Finder and click on your Applications folder.

    Step 2: Click on the Utilities folder.

    Step 3: Double-click on Terminal to open the application.

    Step 4: Type in the following Terminal command: cd .Trashand hit the Return key on your Mac

    Step 5: Type ls and hit Return. This command will list all files in the Trash folder. Step 6: Type mv filename ../. Remember to replace filename with the name of the deleted file.

    Step 7: Type Quit to exit the Terminal window.

    How to Recover Deleted Files with Mac Data Recovery Software?

    If everything fails to recover deleted files, as the last choice, free Mac data recovery software can be utilized to get lost data back. Tools like iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac knows exactly what to do to restore deleted files even emptied from Mac Trash on macOS Catalina and earlier. This software offers advanced algorithms for deleted file recovery, no matter what type of file you want to recover, including documents, photos, videos, emails. It works great on internal hard disks, external hard drives, SD cards, memory cards, USB flash drives.

    Step 1: Free download, install and open iBoysoft Data Recovery on your Mac computer.

    Step 2: Select the drive where you deleted files and click Scan to search for all deleted data on this drive.

    Step 3: Click the eye icon to preview the scanning result.

    Step 4: Click Recover to restore the deleted files you want.


    To sum up, deleting a file doesn’t get rid of it completely. You can first simply check the Trash and restore deleted files. Even worse, if you have emptied the Trash, you can also recover the files with Time Machine or iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac.

    However, by far the best way of making sure you don’t encounter any data loss disaster is to make regular backups of your Mac.

    Katrina is a tech lover who digs IT trends and helps others with practical tips and solutions. Until now, she's been writing and sharing tons of related articles.

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