How to Retrieve Deleted Files on Mac

Losing important files can be extremely frustrating, especially on a Mac, where data recovery may seem complicated. Whether you accidentally deleted a crucial document, emptied your trash, or encountered a system crash, there is hope for recovering those precious files. This article will discuss different ways to recover deleted files on your Mac more efficiently.

1. Understanding Data Recovery on Mac

How to Retrieve Deleted Files on Mac

What Happens When You Delete Files?

Deleting a file on your Mac doesn’t immediately get permanently erased from the storage drive. Instead, the system marks the space previously occupied by the file as available for new data. The deleted file remains recoverable until further data is overwritten in that space.

The Importance of Quick Action

To increase the chances of recovering deleted files, it’s essential to act promptly. Avoid using the Mac extensively after data loss to minimize the risk of overwriting the deleted files.

2. Built-in Recovery Options on Mac

Utilizing Time Machine Backups

Time Machine is a built-in backup feature on macOS that allows you to restore your files to a previous time. If you have enabled Time Machine and created regular backups, you can easily retrieve deleted files from a specific backup point.

Accessing Recently Deleted Items

In macOS, there’s a “Recently Deleted” feature in the Finder, similar to the trash bin on other platforms. If you still need to empty your trash, you can find recently deleted files and restore them with a few clicks.

3. Third-Party Data Recovery Software

Top Data Recovery Tools for Mac

Several third-party data recovery software options are available for Mac, offering advanced features to help you recover deleted files efficiently. Some popular tools include Disk Drill, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, and Stellar Data Recovery.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Data Recovery Software

  • Choose and install the data recovery software that suits your needs.
  • To recover files, first launch the software and choose the drive from which you want to retrieve the data.
  • Begin scanning and patiently wait for the software to analyze the industry.
  • Once the scan is complete, browse the recoverable files and select the ones you need.
  • To safely restore the chosen files, click the “Recover” button.

4. Cloud Services and File Synchronization

Recovering Files from Cloud Storage

You can retrieve deleted files from their trash or recycle bins using cloud storage services like iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Check the cloud service’s settings and restore options to recover lost data.

Using File Synchronization to Prevent Data Loss

File synchronization services like Dropbox or OneDrive can help prevent data loss by automatically backing up your files in real-time. By enabling sync, you create an additional copy of your files, which can be accessed in case of accidental deletion.

5. Seeking Professional Data Recovery Services

When to Consult Data Recovery Experts

Suppose the above methods fail to recover your deleted files, or the data loss is due to a hardware issue or severe system crash. In that case, it’s time to consider professional data recovery services. Professionals with specialized tools and expertise can handle complex data loss situations.

What to Expect from Professional Services

Professional data recovery experts will examine your storage drive and attempt to retrieve the lost files using advanced techniques. While the success rate varies depending on the condition of the industry and data, these services offer the best chance of recovering critical files.

6. Precautions and Best Practices

Creating Regular Backups

Regular backups are the most effective way to protect your data from permanent loss. Time Machine, external hard drives, or cloud-based solutions are excellent options for maintaining a secure backup of your important files.

Understanding Secure File Deletion

Understand how to delete files to ensure sensitive data securely doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. The “Secure Empty Trash” option or specialized file shredding software can help ensure unrecoverable data.

7. Using Terminal Commands for Data Recovery

For advanced users familiar with macOS Terminal, there are specific commands that can help in data recovery. Tools like “grep” can search for particular strings in deleted files, while “dd” can create a disk image for further analysis. However, using Terminal commands requires expertise and caution to avoid unintended consequences, so it’s best to proceed with care or seek professional guidance.

8. Checking External Devices and Cloud Sync Conflicts

If you can’t find a deleted file on your Mac’s local storage, check external devices like USB drives or SD cards that might have a copy. Additionally, when using multiple devices with cloud sync enabled, ensure that file conflicts or deletions on one device don’t propagate to others. Reviewing cloud sync settings and conflict resolution mechanisms can save you from data loss headaches.

9. Preventive Measures for Future Data Recovery

While data recovery is a viable solution, preventing data loss in the first place is always preferable. Ensuring the regular maintenance of your system, timely updates of your operating system and software, and utilizing dependable antivirus software are essential in preventing potential threats and mitigating the risk of data loss.

10. Safeguarding Against Physical Damage

Sometimes, data loss is not due to accidental deletion but physical damage to the storage drive. Protect your Mac from physical damage by handling it carefully, avoiding sudden drops or impacts, and using protective cases or sleeves when transporting it. Regularly check your drive’s health to detect any signs of impending failure and take timely action.

By incorporating these additional points into the article, readers will have a more comprehensive understanding of how to retrieve deleted files on their Mac and how to prevent future data loss. Remember to emphasize the importance of data backup and the various recovery methods available, empowering users to tackle data loss situations confidently.

Here are some practical tips to help you effectively retrieve deleted files on your Mac:

How to Retrieve Deleted Files on Mac

Act Quickly

Taking quick action can have a major impact on the successful recovery of data. When you realize a file has been deleted by mistake, take immediate action to enhance the chances of successful recovery.

Utilize Time Machine Backups

Time Machine, the built-in backup feature on macOS, can be a lifesaver. Regularly create backups of your files using Time Machine, enabling you to restore deleted files to a previous point in time easily.

Check the Trash

Before panicking, check your Mac’s trash bin. If you need to empty the trash after deleting the file, you can still find it there and quickly restore it to its original location.

Use Data Recovery Software

Explore reliable third-party data recovery software designed for macOS. These user-friendly tools can scan your storage drive for recoverable files, simplifying recovery.

Avoid Writing New Data

To maximize the likelihood of successful recovery, avoid writing new data to the drive from which the files were deleted. Using the computer minimally during the recovery process helps preserve the deleted files.

Cloud Services Backup

If you utilize cloud storage services such as iCloud or Dropbox, searching their trash or recycle bins for deleted files is advisable. Often, you can recover your data directly from these cloud services.

File Synchronization

Enable file synchronization services like Dropbox or OneDrive. These services maintain real-time backups of your files, providing extra protection against accidental deletions.

Learn Terminal Commands (Advanced Users)

Learning specific commands for advanced users familiar with macOS Terminal can offer additional data recovery options. However, be cautious when using Terminal commands and back up your data before attempting actions.

Professional Data Recovery Services

When all else fails, consider seeking professional data recovery services. Specialists in data recovery have specific tools and techniques that they utilize to retrieve data from drives that have been damaged or corrupted.

Regular Data Backups

Prevent data loss incidents by making regular backups of your important files. Back up your data to external drives, cloud services, or dedicated backup software to safeguard against unexpected deletions.

Secure File Deletion

When permanently deleting sensitive data, utilize the “Secure Empty Trash” option or specialized file shredding software to ensure unauthorized users cannot recover the data.

Handle Hardware Carefully

Handle your Mac and its storage drive with care to prevent physical damage. Avoid dropping or subjecting the device to physical shocks, leading to data loss due to hardware damage.

Following these tips can improve your data recovery success rate and take proactive measures to protect your important files from accidental deletions and data loss incidents. Regular backups and preventive measures are key to safeguarding your data and maintaining peace of mind.


Losing files on a Mac doesn’t have to be a disaster, thanks to various data recovery options. You can often retrieve deleted files successfully by acting promptly and using built-in features like Time Machine or third-party data recovery software. Moreover, cloud services and file synchronization offer additional protection against data loss. Remember to create regular backups and exercise caution while deleting sensitive data to safeguard against accidental loss.


How to Retrieve Deleted Files on Mac

1. Can I retrieve files that have been deleted from the trash on a Mac computer?

If you still need to empty the trash, you can find recently deleted files and restore them easily.

2. Are third-party data recovery tools safe to use?

Yes, reputable data recovery tools are safe to use and won’t cause further harm to your system.

3. How often should I back up my Mac data?

It’s recommended to create regular backups, ideally daily or weekly, depending on how frequently you update your files.

4. Can I recover files from a formatted Mac drive?

Recovering files from a formatted drive with the right data recovery software or professional services is possible.

5. What should I do if my Mac’s hard drive fails?

In case of a hard drive failure, it’s best to stop using the Mac immediately and seek professional data recovery assistance.

Awais Mahmood

Awais is passionate content writer and SEO Expert. He has experience of 3+ years in content writing, digital marketing and web optimization.
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