How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac

Deleting a file by mistake may seem awful. But don’t despair! Disk Drill is the fast and easy way to recover deleted files on Mac OS X. You can recover deleted Mac files from your internal hard drive and almost any other type of storage device you can connect to your Mac. macOS Catalina ready!
Recover deleted file on Mac OS X
Disk Drill has several powerful scanning techniques that can recover deleted files from a Mac – even from failing drives. Whether you need to learn how to recover deleted files on a Mac today, or you simply want ongoing data protection, Disk Drill is a great solution.

Quick recovery is possible for all major file systems including HFS+, FAT and NTFS. It has never been easier to recover a deleted file on Mac – and best of all – you can scan your hard drive or device and see which files can be recovered for free!

Below is a brief overview of how to recover deleted files on Mac computer. For detailed tutorials, see How to Install Disk Drill and How to Recover Lost Files with Disk Drill Basic in our Knowledgebase.

1. Download and Install Disk Drill

The first step is to download the free Disk Drill application from our website. It requires Mac OS X 10.8.5 or later. After downloading, find the "diskdrill.dmg" file in your Downloads folder and double-click on it. Drag the Disk Drill icon to your Applications folder when prompted.
  • 1Download Disk Drill
  • 2Drag to Applications Folder
  • 3Launch Disk Drill

2. Connect Device to Your Mac

If you need to recover deleted files on an external device, connect it to your Mac now. Skip this step if you wish to recover a deleted file on your Mac internal hard drive.

3. Launch Disk Drill Application

Once Disk Drill is installed, go ahead and launch it. In the first window that pops up, we suggest leaving the first three boxes checked. Next, to give Disk Drill permission to scan your drive, you will need to enter your computer’s administrator password. When you get to the screen that asks if you wish to upgrade, select “No, thanks. Basic edition is OK.” After you reviewed the scan results and confirmed that it has found your deleted files, you can proceed with upgrading to PRO.

4. Select the Drive To Be Scanned

In the main Disk Drill window, there will be a list of the drives connected to your computer. Select the drive that you need to recover deleted files from and then click the “Recover” button next to it. That’s it. Disk Drill will run through all of its scanning methods without you having to do another thing.
However, if you are an advanced user and have a particular scanning method in mind to recover your Mac files, you can click the drop-down arrow on the Recover button to select the method you prefer.

5. Undelete Protected Data

If you had Disk Drill installed before you deleted your files, then you may have had one of its data protection features turned on – either Recovery Vault or Guaranteed Recovery. These powerful deleted file recovery tools greatly increase the chances that you can recover your data.
When you click the Recover button, this is the first method Disk Drill will try. If it can’t used this method, it will proceed to Quick Scan.

6. Quick Scan for Deleted Files

If you can't Undelete Protected Data, Quick Scan is your next best option. The best thing about the Quick Scan method is that it can recover files with its metadata intact (including file names). This method can be used to recover deleted files on HFS/HFS+, FAT and NTFS file systems. However, if Quick Scan fails to turn up your files, Deep scan is the last (and the most powerful) method. Recover deleted files mac

7. Deep Scan for Lost Data

Deep Scan can help you recover deleted files from your Mac when all other methods fail. It scans your entire drive or partition at a binary level. The scan may take several hours, depending on the size of your drive. The only drawback to Deep Scan is that it is unable to recover the metadata for your files, so original file names are lost. Instead, they will have a generic name like file567.doc, or if Disk Drill can retrieve some meta-info, it might be named according to its file type, such 1920x1200.jpg for a photo file. Once the scan is complete, you can sort and preview the files to find the deleted files you were looking for. Recover deleted files mac

8. Select Your Deleted Files

When Disk Drill is done scanning, you will be shown the list of the files it has found. If you are looking for certain files, you can sort the results to narrow down the number of files shown:

You can search for filenames by typing a keyword into the box with the magnifying glass on the upper left. Filenames are not preserved with Deep Scan, so you will need to narrow your results by date and file type.

You can also adjust the time to show only the files deleted within the last few days or weeks. Click on any of the column headers to sort the list by that value. When you find a potential file, click the "eye" icon next to the name to preview it. Some files may be corrupted, so previewing is the only way to know if the file is fully recoverable. After you have identified the deleted files on your Mac that you wish to recover, check the boxes next to their names. Recover deleted files mac

9. Recover Deleted Files on Mac

Once you have selected your files, select the location where you want to store the recovered files and then click the Recover button in the upper right corner. If you are using Quick Scan or Deep Scan and have not upgraded to the PRO version of Disk Drill yet, you will be prompted to do so. Once you complete your upgrade, click Recover to begin the recovery of your deleted Mac files.

Congratulations! You now know how to recover deleted files on your Mac OS X. Download Disk Drill Basic for free to get started right away.

Take care of it before it's gone!

Disk Drill ensures the safety of your files. Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery options keep your files protected and safe before something is merely happening. You'll never need to recover deleted files on Mac! Recovery Vault puts together a special map for Disk Drill to locate deleted files and Guaranteed Recovery creates invisible copies of the files when those are moved to Trash. All of it ensures the integrity and safety of your important data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Disk Drill Team
  1. Download, install and launch Disk Drill.
  2. Select the disk or partition that contained the lost files.
  3. Click the Recover button to start scanning for deleted files.
  4. Preview the recoverable files and choose a new location for them.
  5. Choose the files you want to restore and click the Recover button.

Follow these steps to recover files on a Mac from a Time Machine backup:

  1. Connect the device used to store your Time Machine backups to your Mac.
  2. Start Time Machine from the icon on the menu bar.
  3. Search the backups for previous versions of the files you wish to restore.
  4. Choose your files and click Recover to retrieve them.

The best way to recover recently deleted files on your Mac is by using the Trash Bin. Just follow this simple procedure to undelete a file from the Trash:

  1. Click on the Trash Bin icon to open it up.
  2. Search for the files you want to recover.
  3. Right-click on the selected files and click Put Back to restore the files to their original locations.

Yes, there is. Data recovery software enables you to restore deleted files even after you have emptied your macOS Trash. This is because when the Trash is emptied, the files it contained still exist on your computer. They are logically inaccessible and data recovery software can repair the logical links, enabling the OS and applications to access the files again.

Yes, you can recover deleted files using the Terminal command, but you must use it before emptying the Trash. Use this procedure to give it a try:

  1. Open the Terminal Application.
  2. Use the cd .Trash command to navigate to the Trash folder containing recently deleted files.
  3. Use the mv <filename> command to move files from the Trash to new locations.

You can recover files that you have just deleted by using the Undo command by pressing the Command Z key combination. This command restores the files to their original location. It works from within a Finder window as well as many apps that allow you to create and delete files. This will not undo the command to empty the Trash.

You have a few different options to recover deleted photos on your Mac. Here’s how to try using your Mac’s native Photo Application for recovery.

  1. Open the Photos application on your Mac.
  2. Click the Recently Deleted option under Library in the left-hand panel.
  3. Select the photos that you would like to restore.
  4. Click the Recover button in the upper right of the window.

If you use a cloud backup service such as iCloud, Dropbox or Google Photos, you may be able to use their apps to recover deleted photos. Most services keep deleted files for 30 days. In addition to making sharing files easier, the ability to restore from the cloud is one of the main benefits offered by these services. Specific steps will necessarily be based on the platform you use.

The most reliable way to recover permanently deleted photos from your Mac is with Disk Drill data recovery software. Follow these steps to get it done:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill on your Mac.
  2. Launch the app and choose the disk that contained the photos.
  3. Click Recover to start scanning for lost images.
  4. Preview the recoverable photos by filtering on Pictures and make your selections.
  5. Click Recover again to get back your valuable pictures.

Use Disk Drill to restore a deleted folder with these steps:

  1. Launch Disk Drill and select the disk that contained the deleted folder.
  2. Click Recover to scan the disk for deleted files and folders.
  3. Preview and choose the folder you want to retrieve. 
  4. Click Recover again to recover the folder. Select a new location to avoid data corruption during recovery.

Disk Drill is the best to recover deleted files on Mac OS X

Even when you find yourself in a situation that seems hopeless, Disk Drill will still do its very best to save the day. Disk Drill's Deep Scan digs into core file structure and seeks for file signatures that are still there somewhere just not as easily recognizable and puts the pieces together to restore the files. The more known signatures are discovered the easier it gets to recover deleted Mac files of various types including XLS, DOC, AVI, MP4, JPG.

We know how to recover deleted files on a Mac!

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