How to Recover Deleted or Lost Partition on Mac

You can lose a Mac partition in an instant by pressing the wrong button by mistake or being hit with a power outage. Fortunately, the damage can be undone with the use of Disk Drill. It is an effective data recovery solution that can help you recover from lost or deleted partitions and many other data loss scenarios. macOS Sonoma Ready!

Partitions on Mac OS X
How to Recover Deleted Partition on Mac OS X

Multiple Partition Recovery Methods

Disk Drill restores lost or deleted partitions on your Mac using three powerful recovery methods.

Universal Partition Search
Universal Partition Search

This method scans the disk for known partition headers. Discovered partitions are mounted as a virtual disk image that can be scanned to recover lost files.

Scan for Lost HFS+ Partition
Scan for Lost HFS+ Partition

In this method, Disk Drill locates reformatted HFS+ partitions and rebuilds them using the backup copy of the header. It uses the header to attempt recovery of data structures present before the reformatting occurred and mounts found data as a virtual disk image.

Rebuild HFS+ Catalog File
Rebuild HFS+ Catalog File

In cases where HFS+ partitions cannot be mounted correctly, this recovery method tries to rebuild the catalog file. The rebuilt file is mounted as a virtual disk image and can be scanned for lost data.

Steps to Recover Lost Partition on Mac

1. Install Disk Drill for Mac

Once you have downloaded Disk Drill partition recovery software by CleverFiles, you can add it to the dock right from your Applications menu. This will let you launch Disk Drill quickly whenever you need to recover partitions or change your settings.

  • Download Disk Drill

    Download Disk Drill

  • Drag to Applications Folder

    Drag to Applications Folder

  • Launch Disk Drill

    Launch Disk Drill

2. Connect External Drive

If you are recovering a lost partition from an external drive (USB drive, smart card, etc.), go ahead and connect it now.

Even if you are recovering a lost partition from your Mac's internal hard drive, you may still want to have an external drive to save the found data to. Now launch the Disk Drill app.

recover files from external hard drive mac

3. Select the Disk to Recover Deleted Mac OS Partition

Once Disk Drill opens, you will see the list of available disks. Select the disk you wish to recover a missing partition from and click the "Search for lost data" button, rather than selecting any individual partitions.

Select the Disk to Recover Deleted Mac OS Partition

4. Alternatively: Select Unpartitioned Space

Sometimes you will want to recover data only in an unpartitioned disk space. This may happen when not all partitions are lost or erroneously formatted. First, click and select the disk as you did in step 3.

Then click and select the newly appeared unpartitioned space (it will be shown as a separate partition titled "Unallocated", "Not partitioned" or "Basic Data Partition"). This means that Disk Drill will only scan and search for lost data in disk space which is not part of any existing partition. The actual data is probably still there untouched and recoverable, but that depends on many factors.

Alternatively: Select Unpartitioned Space

5. Scan and Relax

Make sure you have selected the whole disk or unpartitioned space. Now click Recover (or Rebuild). The scanning may take some time. Just sit back and relax until it completes. Partitions that are found will immediately be scanned for lost files and folders.

Scan and Relax

6. Review & Recover Found Data

Everything Disk Drill finds after scanning will be displayed in the resulting list. You must preview the files by clicking the "eye" icon next to the name in order to determine if the file is fully recoverable or if it is corrupted. In case of deep scanning, the original file names are most probably lost, so you might need to go through the whole list of found items to locate the ones you need. Once you have identified the files you want, check the box next to their name, select the destination folder and click "Recover" to complete Mac recovery of your partition.

Review & Recover Found Data

7. Prevent Partition Loss with Recovery Vault

If you enable Recovery Vault to protect your drives in Disk Drill, your files will be recovered much faster and with much higher accuracy. If you ever need to recover missing partition on Mac OS X, the Recovery Vault database will be found during scanning and you will be able to recover your files using our award-winning unique Mac partition recovery software.

Prevent Partition Loss with Recovery Vault

That's it! You now know how to recover deleted partition on Mac OS X. Why not download the free Disk Drill Basic today and give it a try?

Lost Partition Scenarios on Mac

There are multiple ways you can lose a partition full of important data on your Mac. Here are some of the most common issues you may face that may require you to restore a partition on Mac.

Accidental deletion

Accidental deletion

You can easily make a mistake and manually delete one of your disk’s partitions.

Inadvertent formatting

Inadvertent formatting

Formatting the wrong partition can lead to substantial amounts of lost data.

Incorrect command usage

Incorrect command usage

You may have used some operating system commands that damaged the partitions.

Power failure

Power failure

Sudden power failures can wreak havoc on your system and delete a disk partition.

Upgrade issues

Upgrade issues

Problems with operating system upgrades can result in logical partition damage.

Corrupted partition table

Corrupted partition table

The partition table can become corrupted, making it impossible to access its data.

Malware and viruses

Malware and viruses

Malware and virus infections can be responsible for deleting a Mac partition.

Physical damage

Physical damage

Exposing a disk to excessive heat or moisture can lead to a lost partition.

Recover Deleted Partitions from any Storage Device

Disk Drill enables you to recover a deleted partition from any type of disk-based storage media. Here are some of the devices that can have their partitions restored with this versatile recovery tool.

PC / MacPC / Mac
PC / Mac

Dell®, HP®, Acer®, Asus®, MacBook Pro®, MacBook Air®, Apple iMac® and more


HP®, Samsung®, Seagate®, Toshiba®, WD®, LaCie®, Intel®, Adata® and more

USB Drive
USB Drive

SanDisk®, Samsung®, Kingston®, Corsair®, Patriot®, PNY®, Verbatim®, Silicon Power® and more

SD / CF Card
SD / CF Card

SanDisk®, Transcend®, Toshiba®, Lexar®, Integral®, SP®, PNY®, Kingston® and more

Digital Camera
Digital Camera

Samsung®, HP®, Sony®, GoPro®, Canon®, Sigma®, Nikon®, Epson®, Panasonic® and more

iPhone / Android
iPhone / Android

Samsung Galaxy®, iPhone®, Lenovo®, Huawei®, OnePlus®, Google Pixel®, LG® and more


* If TRIM is disabled. Learn more >

File Types Supported for Mac Partition Recovery

No matter what types of files were stored on your list partition, Disk Drill can get them back. Its scanning algorithms have the ability to locate and reconstruct over 400 different file signatures. Here are some examples of the file types that can be restored.

MP3 (MPEG Audio Stream, Layer III), AIF, AIFC, AIFF (Audio Interchange File), WMA (Windows Media audio files)
BMP, JPEG, JP2, GIF, TIFF, PSP. Polaroid/Sigma: X3F. Pentax: PEF. Adobe: AI, APM, IDML, INDB, INDD, INDL, INX, LRCAT, PSB, PSD.
AVI, FLV (Flash video), M4V (iTunes video), MP4 (MPEG-4 video), MPG (MPEG video), WMV (Windows Media Video)
DOCX (Microsoft Word), PDF (Portable Document Format), PPTX (Microsoft PowerPoint), XLSX (Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet)
ZIP (Extended Zip File), RAR (WinRAR Compressed Archive), DMG (Mac OS X Disk Image), 7Z (7-Zip Compressed), CAB (Windows Cabinet File)
Other Files
Other Files
ACCDB (Microsoft Database), DB (Paradox), SQL (bundled SQL queries), MYO (MYOB Limited Windows File), OTF (OpenType Font)

Supported File Systems for Partition Recovery on Mac

Disk Drill can recover data from a deleted partition regardless of the file system used for storage. The tool is fully compatible with all of these file systems that you might be using on your Mac.



Apple File System is the newest file system format used by macOS and iOS systems. It supports full disk encryption and is optimized for use with modern solid-state drives and is designed to be used with large storage volumes.



HFS stands for Hierarchical File System and is the original file system used for organizing files on a Macintosh hard disk. It was not designed to handle large disks and does not make very efficient use of disk space.



The Hierarchical File System Extended was developed by Apple to address shortcomings in the HFS format. It reduces the minimum cluster size which enables the operating system to use disk space more efficiently.



The New Technology File System was developed as the file system for Windows NT. It is a Windows specific files system that can be scanned from a Mac with Disk Drill.



The File Allocation Table and Extended File Allocation Table file systems are native to the Windows operating system. You can scan a disk formatted in this way with Disk Drill for Mac and recover its lost files.



Disk Drill supports the Linux EXT3/EXT4 filesystems for scanning and data recovery. These file systems provide large file support for Linux systems.

Technical Specifications for Disk Drill for Mac

OS support
OS support:

Versions of Disk Drill are available for all versions of macOS from 10.5 through the newest version macOS 14 Sonoma.

Hardware Requirements
Hardware Requirements:

Disk Space: 1GB minimum free space
CPU: 64-bit (x86-64) compatible CPU 1.0 GHz or faster
RAM: at least 4GB

Stable release
Stable release:

Disk Drill 5
Version: 5.5.1517

Tips to Help Prevent Lost Partitions

Here are some tips to help you minimize the chances of a lost disk partition on your Mac. Following these recommendations gives you the best chance of recovering a deleted partition on Mac with recovery software.

Stop using the disk

Stop using the disk

To preserve the physical data on the disk or partition, stop using the device immediately when you suspect data loss.

No reformatting

No reformatting

Don’t attempt to reformat the drive until you have completed the macOS partition recovery procedure with a software tool.

No writing

No writing

Don’t write any data to other unaffected partitions on the disk as this risks overwriting the items you hope to recover.

Don’t recreate partitions

Don’t recreate partitions

Trying to recreate a partition may make it impossible to use recovery software to restore the data it contains.

No disk utilities

No disk utilities

Do not run disk utilities before you undelete the partition. Disk maintenance activities reduce recovery chances.

Use reliable software

Use reliable software

Make sure to use a reliable Mac partition repair application. An ineffective tool can cause additional damage and data loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team

How to recover a lost partition on Mac?

To recover a lost partition on Mac using Disk Drill, follow these steps.

  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac. Don’t perform the download and installation on the disk that lost a partition to protect the data from being overwritten or corrupted.
  2. Launch the app and choose the device with the lost partition from the disk list. If you are recovering from an external device, connect it to your Mac computer before starting Disk Drill.
  3. Click the Recover button to start scanning the device for lost files and folders.
  4. Preview the files that can be recovered and make your selections. Choose a safe storage location for the recovered data that is not on the affected device.
  5. Click Recover again to perform the recovery.

What is the best recovery partition tool for Mac?

Here are the best software tools to recover lost a partition on Mac:

  • Disk Drill Data Recovery for Mac
  • R-Studio for Mac
  • Data Rescue 5 for Mac
  • TestDisk
  • Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery
  • DiskWarrior for Mac
  • Ontrack Easy Recovery for Mac
  • Minitool Power Data Recovery

How do I recover a partition on my Mac's hard drive?

Use these steps to recover data from a lost partition on your Mac.

  1. Download, install and launch Disk Drill for Mac.
  2. Select the partition from the list of available devices.
  3. Click the Recover button to scan for lost data.
  4. Preview the recoverable files and choose the ones you want to restore.
  5. Click Recover again to finish the recovery.

What is the recovery partition on a Mac?

The Mac recovery partition is an alternative method of restoring system software without the use of an installation DVD. The partition allows you to repair or erase your hard drive and install a new copy of the operating system. You can also use the partition to restore your Mac from a Time Machine backup.

Does my Mac have a recovery partition?

By default, macOS is installed with a small recovery partition that can be used to recover data and software on your system.

How do I recover my recovery partition on a Mac?

Follow this procedure to recover your Mac’s recovery partition. You can also just reinstall the operating system on your machine which will also restore the partition.

  1. Go to the App Store and download the Install Mac OS X installer application version that matches the software on your Mac.
  2. Download the free Recovery Partition Creator.
  3. Open the tool and select the drive on which you want to save the recovery partition.
  4. Select the installer application from step 1 and follow the app’s prompts.
  5. When the process completes, use Terminal to verify the partition creation with the diskutil list command.

How do I restore a RAW disk on a Mac?

Use data recovery software to recover the data from a RAW disk. Use these steps:

  1. Download, install, and launch Disk Drill for Mac.
  2. Select the RAW disk from the list of available devices.
  3. Click the Recover button to scan for lost data.
  4. Preview the recoverable files and select the ones you want to restore.
  5. Click Recover again to perform the recovery.

How do I access the recovery partition on a Mac?

Follow these steps to access your Mac’s recovery partition:

  1. Boot your Mac and hold the Command and R keys after you hear the initial chime as the machine starts up.
  2. Hold the keys down until you see the OS X Utilities window.

Do I have a recovery partition?

To verify that you have a recovery partition, enter this command in Terminal: diskutil list. If the partition exists, you will see it in the displayed list.

How do I make a recovery partition bootable?

Use the following procedure to create a bootable recovery drive from your recovery partition.

  1. Connect a USB drive or external hard drive to your computer.
  2. Download the free Recovery Disk Assistant application from this Apple website.
  3. Accept the license agreement.
  4. Select the disk on which to install the bootable recovery image and click Continue.
  5. Enter your administrator id and password to start the process which should take about five minutes.
  6. Click Quit when the process completes.

How do I create a recovery partition on Mac?

Use the following steps to create a Mac recovery partition that can be stored on an external storage device.

  1. Start the Terminal app and enter the command diskutil list to find the disk identifier of your recovery partition.
  2. Locate the recovery partition and make note of its IDENTIFIER in the far-right column of the display.
  3. Enter this command replacing DiskID with the recovery partition’s IDENTIFIER: sudo hdiutil create ~/Desktop/‘Recovery HD.dmg’ -srcdevice /dev/DiskID.
  4. Supply your administrator’s password when prompted by the OS.
  5. When the command completes, you will have the Recovery HD disk image on your desktop.

How do I reinstall Mac without recovery partition?

You can reinstall your Mac’s operating system without a recovery partition by using Internet Recovery with these steps.

  1. Shut down your computer.
  2. Hold down Command-Option-R and press the Power button.
  3. Hold down those keys until you see the spinning globe and the message Starting Internet Recovery. This may take a while.
  4. A progress bar will be displayed and will take some time to fill up.
  5. When the process is complete, the macOS Utilities screen will appear.
  6. Click Reinstall macOS and follow the installation process.

Does reinstalling macOS delete everything?

No, it does not. Reinstalling replaces the system files but leaves user data and most preferences alone.

How do I delete the recovery partition?

Use the following procedure to delete your recovery partition.

  1. Verify the presence of the recovery partition with this command entered in the Terminal app: diskutil list. You will see the recovery partition if it exists.
  2. Enter this command in Terminal to enable the Debug menu in Disk Utilities: defaults write DUDebugMenuEnabled 1.
  3. Open Disk Utility and navigate to Debug > Show every Partition.
  4. Select the recovery partition and click Mount to make it active.
  5. Right-click on the partition and select Erase.
  6. Select the Partition tab and choose the recovery partition. Click on the minus sign underneath it to remove it from your OS.
  7. Enter this command in Terminal to turn off Debug in Disk Utility: defaults write DUDebugMenuEnabled 0.
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More How To's on file recovery on Mac OS X

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Disk Drill is a professional but extremely simple Mac data recovery software that helps you rescue data on your Mac disks, external or internal hard drives, memory cards, cameras, iPods Classic, etc. Disk Drill will recover deleted files on your Mac!
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We'll all experience data loss at some point in our computer-using lives so the more we can prevent it, the better. But when that fateful day does happen, you now know that there’s still a lot more you can do and data recovery isn't as scary (or expensive) as it sounds! Jordan Merrick
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