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Top 15 Best Photo Recovery Software for Windows & Mac in 2021

Photos can bring back memories and remind us of the moments spent with those who are closest to us, which is why losing just a single important picture can feel utterly devastating - almost as if you lost the memory itself. The good news is that most lost or accidentally deleted photos can be recovered using photo recovery software, and we know which applications are the best.
last update icon Last Updated: Sep 1, 2021
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Choice of the Month CHOICE FOR SEPTEMBER
Disk Drill is a popular photo recovery software application for Windows and macOS. It has been downloaded more than 10 million times by home users and professionals alike, who like its powerful undelete capabilities and one-click approach to recovery, among many other things. With Disk Drill you can recover all popular image file formats, as well as image file formats you’ve probably never heard of.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
macOS macOS
iOS iOS
Android Android
Pros
  • icon pros Reputable software to recover deleted photos with excellent user reviews.
  • icon pros Support for nearly 100 image file formats.
  • icon pros Comes with multiple extra tools.
  • icon pros Android and iOS support.
  • icon pros Easy to use and reliable.
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Disk Drill photo recovery software
Overall experience

Recovering images with Disk Drill is a piece of cake because all you need to do is click the Recover button and wait for the photo recovery software to take care of the rest. Included with Disk Drill are multiple extra tools intended to safeguard your images and other files against data loss and help you keep your storage devices in good shape.


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Choice of the Month OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE

2. PhotoRec

PhotoRec is the best free deleted photo recovery software distributed under GNU General Public License (GPLV v2+). Being a command-line application, it can easily scare away less computer-savvy users, who prefer the comfort of a graphical user interface. However, the absence of a GUI is also one of PhotoRec’s biggest strengths, allowing its developers to port it for all popular and not-so-popular operating systems.
Freeware Freeware
Windows Windows
macOS macOS
Linux Linux
FreeBSD FreeBSD
Sun Solaris Sun Solaris
Pros
  • icon pros Outstanding portability.
  • icon pros Open source image rescue software solution.
  • icon pros Completely free photo recovery app.
  • icon pros Works even with severely damaged file systems.
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PhotoRec Recovery Software
Overall experience

Judging by its name, you might think that the only purpose of PhotoRec is to recover images, but that’s not the case. In fact, PhotoRec can recover hundreds of file formats from FAT, NTFS, exFAT, ext2/ext3/ext4, and HFS+ uses read-only access. Make sure to also check out TestDisk, a companion to PhotoRec whose purpose is to recover lost partitions and/or make non-booting disks bootable again.


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Choice of the Month POPULAR AMONG WINDOWS USERS

3. Recuva

Recuva is a free photo recovery software tool from the developers of CCleaner. It features a similar user interface, so all CCleaner users should feel right at home. Recuva can recover pictures from damaged storage devices, and its advanced deep scan mode is intended to recognize even minute traces of deleted files.
Freeware Freeware
Windows Windows
Pros
  • icon pros Virtual hard drive support.
  • icon pros Automatic updates.
  • icon pros Deep scan for buried files.
  • icon pros Free photo recovery software with unlimited recovery.
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Recuva
Overall experience

Recuva used to be completely free, but that changed when its developer was acquired by Avast. After the acquisition, a Pro version of Recuva was introduced, featuring virtual hard drive support, automatic updates, and premium customer support. Paying for extra features and premium support would be fine if Recuva was still in active development. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, which is why we recommend only the basic version, which is still available for free.


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4. Stellar Phoenix

Previously known as Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery, this software to recover deleted photos recovers deleted photos, videos, and audio files from all storage devices. It supports image file formats used by leading camera manufacturers, such as Canon, Nikon, Sony, Kodak, GoPro, and Olympus. Enterprise users apricate its ability to recover lost images and other data from BitLocker encrypted storage drives. You simply select the encrypted drive and enter your BitLocker password.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
macOS macOS
Pros
  • icon pros Recovers from formatted, corrupt, and encrypted storage devices.
  • icon pros Restores photos with original date-timestamp and names.
  • icon pros BitLocker support.
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Stellar Phoenix
Overall experience

Stellar Photo Recovery works even with extremely large storage devices, and it can instantly obtain SMART information of your storage device, volume, or partition. Its user-friendly interface takes no time getting use to, and all features supported by this photo recovery software are presented in such a way that even users with minimum data recovery experience can figure them out on their own.


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5. Remo Recover

With Remo Recover, you can get your photos back in just four steps. First, you select the drive on which the photos were stored before you lost them. Then you start a scan and preview recovered photos. Finally, you save the recovered image files to a different drive. The advanced algorithms that allow Remo Recover to do its magic can retrieve images from corrupted or formatted partitions, inaccessible volumes, and an emptied Recycle Bin.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
macOS macOS
Pros
  • icon pros Image retrieval takes just four steps.
  • icon pros Supports multiple image file formats.
  • icon pros 100% safe and secure undelete process.
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Remo Recover
Overall experience

Remo Recover supports all Windows file system (NTFS, NTFS5, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT), as well as file systems used by Mac computers (HFS, HFS+, APFS). You can save your sessions for later and resume them at any later point in time.


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6. CardRecovery

As its name suggests, the purpose of CardRecovery is to recover images from memory cards used in digital cameras and smartphones. It supports all memory card types and formats, including SD, micro SD, CF, xD, Memory Stick Pro, Duo, Pro-HG, MMC, XQD, Sony XQD, and others. Because CardRecovery is designed to be a read-only software applications, it cannot possibly overwrite lost images and make them unrecoverable.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
Pros
  • icon pros Recovery takes just four steps.
  • icon pros Supports multiple image file formats.
  • icon pros 100% safe and secure recovery.
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CardRecovery
Overall experience

The company behind CardRecovery, WinRecovery Software, has been developing data recovery software solutions for many years, and its unique SmartScan technology can quickly diagnose difficult data loss situations and provide the most optimal undelete method.


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7. Picture Rescue

Picture Rescue has been helping Mac users recover digital images for many years now. Even though its development is no longer as active as it used to be, it still survives a direct comparison with most leading picture undelete software applications that are currently available.
Free trial Free trial
macOS macOS
Pros
  • icon pros Recover lost digital pictures after deletion, reformatting, or corruption.
  • icon pros Previews pictures before retrieval.
  • icon pros Can securely delete pictures so they can’t be recovered.
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Picture Rescue
Overall experience

Since the very first version, Picture Rescue users have been praising its intuitive user interface and excellent usability. All recoverable pictures are displayed as pictures, so you can easily find those that you want to recover, select them, and get them back with a single click.


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8. RecoverIt Photo Recovery

This easy to use software offers multiple scanning modes to tackle all kinds of photo loss scenarios. You can initiate a Quick scan to locate recently deleted pictures or run a Deep scan to perform a thorough search of your storage device. Regardless of which mode you select, RecoverIt Photo Recovery will always provide thumbnails for image files, allowing you to preview them with a simple click.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
macOS macOS
Pros
  • icon pros Multiple scanning modes.
  • icon pros Restores all commonly used image file formats.
  • icon pros Provides thumbnails for image files.
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RecoverIt Photo Recovery
Overall experience

Hard drives, memory cards, USB flash drives, and other commonly used storage devices are supported, and all you need to do is select your device and initiate a scan. RecoverIt Photo Recovery will then list all recovered files so that you can choose exactly what you want to undelete and what you want to leave behind.


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9. Exif Untrasher

Developed by Carsten Blüm, a Germany-based software developer, Exif Untrasher is a straightforward and lightweight free deleted photo recovery software utility for recovering images in the JPEG file format. Because it does just one thing, it’s exceptionally easy to use and reliable. It really takes just two steps to recover your photos with Exif Untrasher: select the source (such as a memory card or USB flash drive) and specify the destination folder.
Freeware Freeware
macOS macOS
Pros
  • icon pros Localized in English, German, French and Italian.
  • icon pros Support for all storage devices recognized by macOS.
  • icon pros Straightforward and lightweight utility.
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Exif Untrasher
Overall experience

Exif Untrasher is localized in English, German, French, and Italian, and you can download it free of charge directly from Carsten Blüm’s personal website. Just like when installing all other apps that don’t come from the App Store, make sure to enable the installation of the app from the Settings & Privacy menu in System Preferences.


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10. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

Since 2004, EaseUS has been offering a broad range of software tools intended to help users manage their data. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a complete data restoration solution for Windows computers, featuring support for over 1,000 file formats, including those used to store photos.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
macOS macOS
iOS iOS
Android Android
Pros
  • icon pros Recovers data from various data loss situations.
  • icon pros Trusted by millions of users worldwide.
  • icon pros Requires zero technical knowledge.
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EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard
Overall experience

The basic version of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can be downloaded for free and used to recover up to 2 GB. Absolutely no computer skills are needed to complete a recovery job with this photo recovery software, and you can preview files before restoration so that you don’t waste the generous data limit on pictures you don’t care about.


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11. Easy Digital Photo Recovery

Featuring specialized algorithms capable of quickly recognizing a multitude of image file formats, Easy Digital Photo Recovery is intended to help both professional and amateur photographers recover deleted and lost pictures. It delivers a great speed and ease of use, but it lacks support for file systems used by Linux and macOS.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
Pros
  • icon pros Support for many image file formats.
  • icon pros Suitable for beginners and pros alike.
  • icon pros Demo version available.
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Easy Digital Photo Recovery
Overall experience

Easy Digital Photo Recovery also doesn’t officially support Windows 10, but it seems to run on the operating system just fine. You can download a demo version of this software application for free, but be ready to pay $59 for a personal license and $99 for a business license.


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12. Recover My Photos

As far as image retrieval software goes, Recover My Photos is fairly unknown, but that’s not a good reason to avoid it. In fact, if you have a very old Windows computer that’s still running Windows 98, ME, or NT, Recover My Photos could be your only option because not many image recovery software applications can be installed on a computer with one of these operating systems and just 128 MB of RAM.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
Pros
  • icon pros Very low hardware requirements.
  • icon pros Compatibility with Windows 98.
  • icon pros Simple recovery process.
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Recover My Photos
Overall experience

Recover My Photos can recover deleted or lost images and videos from memory cards, USB flash drives, hard drives, and other storage devices - even if they’ve been formatted. The retrieval process consists of just four steps, so most users should be able to figure it out without any help.


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13. Disk Doctors Photo Recovery

Disk Doctors Photo Recovery can recover images even from formatted or severely corrupted storage devices. Its simple user interface is so intuitive that anyone can instantly figure it out, but it’s clear that it comes from the Windows Vista era.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
macOS macOS
Pros
  • icon pros Three-step restoration wizard.
  • icon pros Ability to save sessions.
  • icon pros Support for RAW image file formats.
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Disk Doctors Photo Recovery
Overall experience

Disk Doctors Photo Recovery supports common lossy and lossless image file formats (BMP, PNG, TIF, TIFF, JPEG, JPG, GIF, PSD), as well as RAW image file formats used by leading camera manufacturers, including Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Minolta, and others. You can save sessions and continue from where you left off.


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14. Odboso Photo Retrieval

Odboso Photo Retrieval works differently than most other image restoration solutions. Instead of retrieving all lost or deleted files from a selected storage device, it looks only for a specific file format. As a result, you don’t have to go through thousands and thousands of recovered files just to find one missing image. On the other hand, it can be somewhat difficult to recover lost photos if you don’t know their exact file format.
Free trial Free trial
Windows Windows
macOS macOS
Pros
  • icon pros File format-based image restrieval.
  • icon pros Doesn’t write any data to the recovered storage device.
  • icon pros Lets you preview the found images.
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Odboso Photo Retrieval
Overall experience

In addition to common image file formats, such as JPG, PNG, and GIF, Odboso Photo Retrieval also supports several RAW image file formats and video file formats, and it can recover them from all standard storage devices. Windows 10 isn’t officially supported, but we didn’t experience any issues during our testing.


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15. Undelete 360 Photo Recovery

Undelete 360 is a free photo recovery app intended for home users. While it does support all commonly used storage devices and file formats, its undelete capabilities are fairly limited compared with other applications described in this article. Its biggest strength is its intuitive user interface with a large preview window and easily accessible search filters.
Freeware Freeware
Windows Windows
Pros
  • icon pros Unlimited free image restoration.
  • icon pros Intuitive user interface.
  • icon pros Preview functionality.
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Undelete 360 Photo Recovery
Overall experience

Thanks to its freeware license, you can download Undelete 360 free of charge and use it without any limitations. Unfortunately, the developers of this picture recovery software application released the last update in 2010. For the time being, Undelete 360 runs just fine on Windows 10, but there’s absolutely no guarantee that it won’t stop running in the future because the operating system isn’t officially supported.


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Conclusion

If you’re looking for the best photo recovery software application for Windows or macOS, Disk Drill is an easy choice. Its straightforward user interface and one-click approach to image restoration make it easy for amateurs and professionals alike to recover all lost or accidentally deleted photos from hard drives, memory cards, USB flash drives, and other storage devices.
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How to Select Photo Recovery Software?

Different photo recovery software applications offer different features and recovery capabilities. If you choose the best photo recovery software available, you have a good chance of restoring your photos on the first try. This is what you should pay attention to when selecting a photo recovery application.
  • Operating system compatibility
    Operating system compatibility
    There’s no point in downloading the best photo recovery software application if it’s not compatible with your operating system. Remember that just because a photo recovery software application claims that it’s compatible with Windows or macOS doesn’t necessarily mean that the version you use is supported. If you use, for example, Windows 10, make sure the application is actually compatible with Windows 10.
  • File format and storage device support
    File format and storage device support
    Virtually all photo recovery software applications can restore all common photo file formats, including JPG, PNG, GIF, and TIFF, from internal and external hard drives, memory cards, and USB flash drives. To restore more exotic file formats, select an application with extensive file format support.
  • Ease of use and stability
    Ease of use and stability
    Most regular users understandably shy away from command-line tools and photo recovery applications with an unintuitive user interface. Even if you don’t count yourself among them, there’s still no reason to use a photo recovery application that makes the recovery process more difficult than it has to be.
  • Reputation and user reviews
    Reputation and user reviews
    Any photo recovery software application can promise guaranteed results, but you should trust only applications with excellent reputation and raving user reviews.
  • Price
    Price
    The cost of photo recovery software applications varies greatly. Paid applications typically offer a polished user experience with multiple extra features, whereas free solutions tend to be rather barebones. Many paid photo recovery software applications let you preview files before recovery for free so that you can be certain that your money won’t go to waste.

Did You Know?

JPEG was introduced in 1992 as one of the first image file formats to use the discrete cosine transform (DCT) technique for lossy compression. This technique, which was first proposed by Nasir Ahmed in 1972, makes it possible to compress image files down to much smaller file sizes. JPEG arrived right when the internet was just starting to take off, which only accelerated its adoption. To this day, it remains the most popular format for containing lossy and compressed image data.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by Pandora Recovery Team

To determine if you need a picture recovery software application to recover your deleted photos, look inside the Trash folder on macOS or the Recycle Bin on Windows.


To recover deleted photos from the Trash folder on macOS:

  1. Open Trash by clicking on the icon located on the right side or bottom of the Dock.
  2. Find the photos you want to recover and select them.
  3. Click on any of the selected photos, hold the click, and drag your mouse to another folder or your desktop.

To recovery deleted photos from the Recycle Bin on Windows:

  1. Open the Recycle Bin by clicking on its desktop icon.
  2. Find the photos you want to recover and select them.
  3. Right-click on any highlighted file and select the Restore option.

After testing 15 different photo recovery software applications, we came to the conclusion that the top 5 best photo recovery software solutions for SD cards are:

  1. Disk Drill
  2. PhotoRec
  3. Recuva
  4. Stellar Phoenix
  5. Remo Recover

Disk Drill is our top pick because it supports all members of the SD memory card family and works on both Windows and macOS, delivering fantastic results in just a few clicks.

The best 100% free photo recovery software is PhotoRec. This open-source application lets you recover an unlimited amount of data from any storage device, and it supports all common image file formats, including JPG, PNG, GIF, and TIFF, just to name a few.
You can recover permanently deleted photos without spending any money using a free photo recovery software application like PhotoRec or Recuva. You can also try freemium applications like Disk Drill or Stellar Phoenix, which let you preview files for free, requiring you to purchase a license to recover them.
Permanently deleted photos don’t actually go anywhere. Instead, the operating system deletes the logical links leading to them and marks the storage space they occupy as empty. It’s only when new data is written there when permanently deleted photos disappear for good.
Absolutely, but you need to be quick enough. That’s because permanently deleted photos can only be recovered until they become overwritten by new data, which can happen almost instantly or after a very long time—it all depends on the size of your storage device and its utilization.

According to our own in-depth testing, Disk Drill is the best photo recovery software for Windows 10 because it combines great usability with stellar data recovery performance. Other good options include:

  • Recuva
  • Remo Recover
  • EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard