If you have experienced data loss on your Mac, things may not be as hopeless as you might think. There are several ways to recover some or all of the data deleted from your computer. We are going to walk you through the various options that you can try to recover your valuable data. Sometimes, you can use native macOS functionality to recover your files. At other times, data recovery software may be required to restore your data. These instructions are applicable for all the latest versions of macOS including macOS Catalina.
Table of Contents
- First Things First: Try to Recover Deleted Files From Trash
- Restore From Time Machine Backup
- Restore Deleted Files on Mac via Disk Drill
- Restore Photos, Emails, Notes & Multimedia Files on Mac Without Software
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The first place to look for deleted files on your Mac is its Trash Bin. The macOS Trash Bin is a special folder that holds deleted files for a specified length of time before permanently deleting them. They can also be manually deleted by emptying the Trash Bin. You can undelete files from the Trash. As soon as you notice that files have been deleted, check the bin. If the data is there you can retrieve deleted files from the trash.
To recover deleted files from the Trash Bin you need to:
- Click on the Trash Bin icon to open the Trash folder.
- Search for the files you wish to restore.
- Right-click on the items and select Put Back to restore files from the Trash.
- Navigate to the file’s original location and use it with your applications.
What if I have already emptied my Trash Bin?
Once the bin has been emptied you can no longer recover files from the Trash on your Mac with this method. It does not mean that the data is gone forever. It simply means that you can’t recover it directly from the Trash Bin. There are multiple other methods you can try that may be successful in recovering your deleted files. Read on and we will look at some alternative means to recover your lost data.
If you have been unsuccessful recovering your deleted files from the Trash Bin, the next option to consider is to restore from a Time Machine backup. Time Machine is the macOS backup and recovery utility that is bundled with your computer. You should be using it to create backup copies of your files and data regularly for just this kind of data loss situation. It offers a viable option for recovering deleted data no longer in the Trash Bin.
To restore Mac files from a time machine backup you need to:
- Locate the media that contains the Time Machine backups and connect it to your computer.
- On your Mac, open a Finder window of the folder that contained the file to be recovered. For example, open the Documents folder to restore a document.
- Launch Time Machine from Launchpad or the Time Machine icon on your Mac’s menu bar.
- Use the arrows and timeline to navigate through local snapshots and backups.
- Select the items you want to recover and click Restore.
Next, we will investigate how data recovery software can restore your data if these methods are not successful or if you do not have backups.
Data recovery software can recover deleted files from an emptied Trash Bin. It can also rescue you in situations where you don’t have a backup available. Data recovery works by taking advantage of the way macOS deletes files from your system. It does not physically remove the data, but simply restricts logical access and marks the space occupied by the data as available for reuse. Until the data is overwritten by other processes, recovery software can restore it.
To restore lost data on your Mac with Disk Drill, you need to:
- Download and install the application.
- Launch the application and select the disk that contained the deleted data.
- Click the Recover button to begin scanning the disk for deleted data.
- Preview the files that can be recovered. Select the files you want to recover and designate a storage location where they will be restored.
- Click the Recover button again to restore the files to your selected location.
Disk Drill can successfully recover files even after they have been deleted from the Trash. It employs advanced scanning algorithms that can identify and recover data in over 400 different file formats. The program also includes data protection and management tools that help keep your data safe. IT employs an intuitive and user-friendly interface which allows you to start recovering data in a few clicks.
Here are some tips and tricks that will give you a better chance of success when using Disk Drill to recover your deleted data:
- As soon as you discover that you have experienced a data loss scenario, put the disk that contained the files into read-only mode to avoid accidentally overwriting the files you wish to restore.
- Perform scans on the whole disk, not an isolated partition. This will increase the probability of locating your lost files.
- Files may be recovered with different names or extensions when using the Disk Drill’s Deep Scan. Look into the “Reconstructed labeled” group and you may find the requested files under different names.
- If the file cannot be located in Guaranteed Recovery, Recovery Vault or quick scan it may still be found by running an “All recovery methods” Scan on the complete disk.
- Guaranteed Recovery provides 100% successful data recovery for folders you protect with the tool. Always include your iCloud folder in your list of protected locations.
- Attempt to change file extensions if your file will not open after recovery, such as from mp4 to avi.
Some of the applications that you use to create items on your Mac have built-in facilities to perform limited data recovery. They may only be useful for recovering files that have been recently deleted. If you have lost files from these apps, it’s certainly worth the time to see if you can restore them by using the following methods.
Photo recovery is possible if the files have been recently deleted by using the Apple Photos App.
To recover deleted photos from the Photos App you need to:
- Open the Photos app and navigate to Recently Deleted. This opens the recently deleted folder where you can attempt image recovery.
- Select the photos or videos that you want to restore.
- Click the Recover button to restore the files to their original location.
If you accidentally deleted some emails that you realize you wanted to keep, you can try to get them back through the Mail app’s Trash mailbox. It holds deleted mail for a designated length of time for just this reason.
To recover deleted Emails from the Mail App, you need to:
- Open the Mail application.
- Locate the Trash mailbox in the panel on the left side of the window.
- Click on the Trash mailbox to open it.
- Drag the emails you want to recover from the Trash mailbox to the mailbox of your choice.
Your iTunes library may contain movies, books or music that you have purchased on your Mac. If these files are accidentally deleted, you can recover them by downloading them again from iTunes.
To recover deleted multimedia files from iTunes, you need to:
- Open iTunes and sign in with your Apple ID.
- From the menu bar at the top of the screen, select Account > Purchased.
- Click on the type of multimedia file you will be downloading in the top right corner of the window.
- Locate the item you want to restore and click the download icon.
The Notes app also provides a way to recover deleted notes on a Mac. In similar fashion to the Photos app, you can restore notes on a Mac by using the Note’s Recently Deleted folder.
To recover deleted notes from the Notes App, you need to:
- Open the Notes application.
- Click on the Recently Deleted folder in the right-hand panel.
- Drag the note to another folder in the sidebar.
Data loss can have serious repercussions. The deleted files could be unique and may not be able to be recreated. The data may contain irreplaceable memories captured in photos and videos. One thing you shouldn’t do when faced with a data loss scenario is panic.
There are multiple methods that may be able to restore your data. The trick is to choose the one that will work best for your situation. The first place to look is in the Trash Bin and a Time Machine backup is another possible solution. You may be able to recover certain types of files from the apps that created them.
Data recovery software is the most versatile method for restoring deleted files on your Mac. It gives you the best chance of recovering your valuable data. Be sure to stop using the disk that continued the deleted files to preserve the data for recovery.