PhotoRec for Mac Review – Capable but Difficult to Use


Out of 5 Total Score

No. 7 Among all macOS solutions

Price range - free • CGSecurity • macOS

Last update:

PhotoRec is likely the most popular open-source data recovery software application in the world, and the Mac version offers the same unlimited data recovery capabilities as the versions for Windows and Linux. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a Mac-specific user interface. In fact, it doesn’t come with any graphical user interface at all, and that might be an insurmountable problem for many users. 

Read this review to discover more reasons why PhotoRec for Mac may or may not be the right data recovery tool for you.

PhotoRec for Mac – Gallery

Main Pros and Cons of PhotoRec for Mac


  • Completely free. No license is needed to recover an unlimited amount of files. The software is completely free.
  • Open source. PhotoRec is an open-source software application, so you can study how it works and even modify it if you have the skills to do so.
  • No installation required. The application runs in portable mode by default, so no installation is necessary.
  • Good signature scanner. The program supports a large number of signatures, including modern file formats.
  • Ability to narrow down scan results. There is a setting that allows you to enable or disable individual signatures.
  • Doesn't require a lot of PC resources. You don’t need a powerful computer to use PhotoRec because the application performs well even on old hardware.
  • Raw disk support. PhotoRec makes it easy to recover data from disks that don’t have a file system.
  • Disk images. The program knows how to scan byte-by-by-byte copies of disks.
  • Unused disk space scanning. You can scan an entire storage device or just unused disk space to save time.


  • Command-line user interface. The program works only in the terminal and has no graphical interface, so it’s not user friendly.
  • Rarely updated. The program doesn’t receive updates often.
  • No auto-update. Whenever a new version is released, you have to install it manually from scratch.
  • Scan automation. You are required to make quite a few choices to start scanning.
  • Source selection. The process of selecting which device you want to scan is overly complicated.
  • The need for an additional disk. PhotoRec always recovers all found files, so an additional disk is typically needed to complete the recovery process.
  • Backup disk creation. There is no way to create byte-to-byte copies of disks.
  • Lack of tech support. Support is provided only on the official forum on a volunteer basis.
  • Lack of additional functionality. The program doesn’t offer any additional functionality beyond data recovery.
  • Signature scanner only. The program is able to find files only by signature. File system information is never restored, so file names and paths are always lost.
  • Source auto-refresh. PhotoRec doesn’t automatically refresh the list of available source drives, so it’s necessary to start the application again whenever a new device is connected.
  • Lack of usability. Basic features such as scan results filters, search bar, or the ability to preview individual files are missing, which negatively affects PhotoRec’s usability.
  • The road to recovery. The program does not remember the last file recovery path and you have to choose a new one every time.
  • Smart behavior. There is no warning when trying to restore files to the source drive to stop users from overwriting their lost files and making them impossible to recover.
  • Incomplete default settings. By default, all signatures are not selected for scanning. To fix this, you have to open the settings menu and manually select all unselected signatures.

Other Options Besides PhotoRec for Mac

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Disk Drill

Score 4.79 45%

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Data Rescue Logo
Data Rescue

Score 3.26 1%

Oldie but not goodie

Stellar Data Recovery Logo
Stellar Data Recovery

Score 3.31 0%

Not as stellar as its name suggests

PhotoRec for macOS

Christophe GRENIER

Visit website

Best choice for Mac users

Disk Drill Logo

Disk Drill for macOS



Oldie but not goodie

Data Rescue Logo

Data Rescue for Mac



Not as stellar as its name suggests

Stellar Data Recovery Logo

Stellar Data Recovery for Mac



PhotoRec for Mac Summary

👍 Worth a try

PhotoRec for Mac is an appealing solution for those who want to scan their devices for data recovery at no cost. It stands out in the market as a straightforward, free, open-source tool that allows you to see everything that can potentially be recovered with it.

However, its simplicity and cost-effectiveness come with some trade-offs. PhotoRec is a terminal-based application, which means it lacks the user-friendly interface and experience that many paid solutions offer. This makes it less suitable for ordinary users who prefer sleek, intuitive apps. Moreover, PhotoRec only supports signature-based recovery, which results in the loss of file names and other metadata during the recovery process. All recovered files are bundled together with generic file names.

Furthermore, PhotoRec lacks the extra features commonly found in commercial data recovery software, such as preview options for recoverable files, filters for scan results, or support for encrypted drives. This makes it less suitable for professionals who require a comprehensive data recovery solution with a high level of customization and detailed insights into the data recovery process.

In summary, PhotoRec occupies a unique position in the market. It’s not quite suitable for ordinary users due to its lack of modern conveniences, yet it’s not fully suitable for professionals either, as other solutions like UFS, DMDE, and R-Studio offer an almost absurd level of customization and detailed insights into the data recovery process.

Compatibility Good
Recovery Rate Good
Usability Poor
File Type Support Good
Scan Speed Excellent
Free Trial Yes
Starting Price Free
Money-Back Guarantee No

What Is PhotoRec for Mac?


PhotoRec is a free, open-source mac data recovery tool specifically designed to recover lost data from various storage devices.

PhotoRec is one of those data recovery applications that many Mac users skip over when going through long best-of lists because this open-source software doesn’t advertise its strengths while hiding its weaknesses nearly as well as commercial data recovery software applications do. 

But if you take some time to get to know PhotoRec, you will discover that it does offer not only a great value but also decent performance. To get started, let’s look at important facts about PhotoRec so that it’s clear what kind of data recovery software we’re dealing with in this review. 

PhotoRec for Mac Factsheet

RequirementsmacOS 10.6-14.0
Latest version 7.2 • Released 22nd Feb, 2024
Download size4 MB
CategoryData Recovery Software
UI languagesEnglish

Sibling version

PhotoRec for Windows


PhotoRec may have a steeper learning curve than most commercial data recovery software applications, but the value it offers is hard to ignore, and its data recovery performance isn’t bad either. Read full review

No. 15 Among all Windows solutions

PhotoRec Logo

How Much Does PhotoRec for Mac Cost?

Distributed as Free All features are provided free of charge, and the software can be used, studied, and modified without restriction
Free version availableFree version available
Free version limitations

PhotoRec is free – this open source multi-platform application is distributed under GNU General Public License (GPLV v2+)

No credit card to tryNo credit card to try

PhotoRec users have it great because they can use the software to recover an unlimited amount of data for free. What’s more, they can study and even edit its source code because it’s published online under the GPLV v2+ license. 

Developer — Christophe GRENIER

Unlike most other data recovery software applications, PhotoRec is developed mainly by a single person, Christophe Grenier, who lives in France. Because PhotoRec is an open-source project, Christophe also receives help from volunteers from around the world, who help him keep the software running smoothly across all supported platforms. 

1% 10.6% than avg

Online market share

Reflects the share of online traffic within the niche occupied by data recovery software, based on data taken from (from Google US search engine).

230 46.2% than avg

Brand name popularity

Based on the number of brand-related search queries on Google US according to

Considering that PhotoRec is essentially a one-man project, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its online market share and popularity are slightly below average. Still, the software has gained a loyal following over the years, and it’s often recommended as one of the best data recovery applications that are completely free.  

Developer website
Support email

2008 • 16 years on the market

HQ location

GlobalSP, 78 rue la Condamine, 75017 PARIS, France

Social media LinkedIn

PhotoRec has been around for many years, and it has established itself as a reliable open-source data recovery software application. You can keep up with the project on its official website or by following its social media pages. 

How to Use PhotoRec for Mac

Tested on: macOS 12.3.1 (21E258)

Even if you have previous experinece with data recovery software, PhotoRec for macOS may still surprise you with how different its data recovery process when compared with other popular applications of this kind. 

Step 1


There are several different ways to get PhotoRec up and running on macOS. We decided to go with the simplest method: running PhotoRec in portable mode. 

We started by visiting the official website of the software and downloading the pre-compiled binary for macOS. Next, we extracted the downloaded archive and opened the newly created folder, entitled testdisk-7.2-WIP. Don't let the name confuse you: PhotoRec is distributed with TestDisk. Finally, we launched the binary file called photorec with administrator privileges. 

Alternatively, you can install PhotoRec using the Homebrew package manager, which makes it much easier to keep the application up to date. Without Homebrew, you have to redownload PhotoRec manually whenever a new version is released. 

Step 2

Source selection

To select the storage device you want to scan, you need to go through several steps. 

The first step is the selection of a physical storage device. This step is followed by the selection of a partition. PhotoRec will then ask you to manually specify the filesystem type. Once that's done, you can select a destination to save the recovered files to.

While the individual steps are not difficult to understand, the overall user experience can't really be compared with modern one-click data recovery software applications, like Disk Drill

Step 3

Scanning process

PhotoRec keeps users informed while the scanning process is in progress, providing you with a comprehensive overview of how many files have been found, breaking the results down by file format. 

Unfortunately, you can't control the scanning process at all. All you can do is stop the scanning process and start it again from scratch later. Forget about saving a session for later or viewing recovery results while the scanning process is still in progress. 

Step 4

Managing found files

Because PhotoRec for Mac doesn't have a graphical user interface, it relies on third-party file browsers for the management of found files. In practice, this means that it dumps all recovered files inside a single folder, and it's up to you to go through them and decide which of them you want to keep. 

Finder works well when it comes to managing the files recovered by PhotoRec, but third-party file and photo browsers, such as Path Finder and ACDSee, can make the task much easier thanks to their advanced features. 

Step 5

Recovery and post-processing

Since PhotoRec recovers all found files in one go and expects users to manually go through them, we don't really have much to talk about in regards to the post-processing of recovery results. 

We can only comment on the recovery process itself, which doesn't take an unnecessarily long time to complete, which is always a plus. Just keep in mind that PhotoRec doesn't recover all supported file formats by default. You have to go to the File Options section and manually enable them. 

This is something we realized only after completing our first scan, forcing us to repeat it. We suspect that many other users have made the same mistake since PhotoRec doesn't make the fact that not all file formats are enabled by default obvious. 

Is PhotoRec for Mac safe?


Avg score Not perfect but safe and trustworthy nonetheless

Safe and Trustworthy
👾 Malware

PhotoRec is an open-source application, so anyone can check that it doesn't contain any malware. 

🔒 Privacy

The application doesn't collect any data about its users, and you can download it for free without registration right from its official website.

📊 Data Integrity

PhotoRec is known for preserving the integrity of data stored on the affected storage device even though it doesn't exclusively use non-intrusive recovery algorithms. 

👨‍💻 Developer

Christophe Grenier has made a name for himself in the data recovery industry, but a solo developer can't obviously compete with the resources and manpower of larger companies that offer paid solutions. 


Despite only having a text-based interface, PhotoRec for Mac is one of the most commonly recommended data recovery tools. Why? Well, a big reason is that it is safe and trustworthy. Its open-source nature allows anyone to check its code for malware, and it doesn't collect any user data. While it's true that its solo developer (and community of volunteers) can't rival established commercial companies in terms of man power and resources, the job he has been doing so far is commendable and has earned the trust of many users. 

PhotoRec for Mac - Full Review and Analysis

So far, we’ve explained how PhotoRec works, but we have yet to explain how good or bad are the results it delivers and the features it provides. That’s exactly what this section is all about. 



13 rating criteria

PhotoRec is a reliable and trustworthy data recovery software application, but it’s not a commercial product, and everything from its update frequency to the way in which user support is provided reflects this. 

1Update frequency More than 6 months
2Updated recently No
3Changelog available Available (View full update history)
4Latest macOS supported Yes, all good
5Runs natively on M1/M2/M3 Macs Does not support
6Genuine or clone? Genuine
7Brand name popularity Unpopular
8Online market share Poor
9Maturity Mature
10Extensive knowledge base Available
11Helpdesk support Not available
12Live chat Not available
13Phone support No

Bang for the buck

8 rating criteria

PhotoRec is completely free, and you can use it to recover an unlimited amount of data for personal and commercial purposes alike. The software’s open-source license ensures that its source code is readily available and modifiable. For these reasons alone, the value delivered by PhotoRec is hard to beat.

1Competitive pricing Yes
2Price-quality ratio Excellent
3Free trial No limitations
4Is it free? Completely
5Pricing policy Freeware
6Unlimited recovery in full version Yes
7Free upgrades Yes
8Commercial rights in the cheapest license No


18 rating criteria

Because the Mac version of PhotoRec doesn’t have a graphical user interface, it automatically falls behind competing software applications in terms of usability, and the fact that appropriate scanning methods are automatically selected without user interaction doesn’t change much.

1Modern user-friendly interface No
2Dark mode No
3Easy-to-locate features No
4Automatic implementation of multiple appropriate scanning methods without user interaction Yes
5Auto-resuming scans of failing drives No
6Auto-resuming backups of failing drives No
7Convenient source selection on start No
8Convenient file-by-file preview of recoverable items No
9Convenient thumbnail preview of recoverable items No
10Mount recoverable items as disk No
11Built-in updater No
12Multiple view modes in scan results No
13Hex view for recoverable items No
14Filter recoverable items by type No
15Search recoverable items by file names No
16Sort results No
17Multilingual UI No
18Simple deployment No

Recovery performance

128 rating criteria

The recovery performance of PhotoRec for macOS is seriously limited by the inability to recover file system information, such as original file names and file paths. Yes, it’s better to recover a lost file even without its original name and path than to lose it, but there’s no shortage of data recovery software that can do everything without being too expensive.

1Quick scan BadCan't recover file system information.
2Deep scan BadCan't recover file system information.
3Signature scan GoodSupported file types can be reliably recovered.
4Additional scan features FineCapable of scanning disk images.
5Device support FineAll commonly used internal and external storage devices are supported.
6Other notable recovery features BadNo extra features are included with PhotoRec.

Scan results

Summary of our scan results

This table presents a quick summary of the scan results we gathered when testing the data recovery software

#FeatureQuick ScanRecovery of recently deleted filesDeep ScanThe ability to restore data upon file system reformatting or loss
1HFS+ partitions00
2APFS partitions00
3FAT32 partitions00
4exFAT partitions00
5NTFS partitions00
6EXT4 partitions00

Quick Scan is designed to find recently deleted files on a device. This score reflects the overall software's effectiveness of recovering permanently deleted files across various file systems

Average Score


Deep Scan is primarily designed to recover data from formatted devices, and lost partitions. This score reflects the overall software's effectiveness of recovering data from various file systems after reformatting

Average Score

Not Supported.

The software is unable to recover data based on file system information.

#SignatureDescriptionScan Score

Hasselblad 3F RAW Image File


Sony Alpha RAW File


Bitmap Image File


Canon RAW Version 2 File


Canon RAW Version 3 File


Canon RAW CIFF Image File


Kodak Digital Camera RAW File


Digital Negative Lossless RAW Image File


Adobe Industry-wide Standard File Format for Digital Video Files


Epson RAW File


High Dynamic-range File Format


Hasselblad RAW Image File


GoPro RAW Format File


High Efficiency Image File Format


Intelligent Image Quality RAW File


Panoramic Image Insta360 File


Bitmap Image Format JPEG 2000 File


Joint Photographic Experts Group Compressed Image File


Kodak Digital Camera RAW Image File


Mamiya RAW Image File


Leaf and Mamiya RAW Image File


Multi Picture Stereoscopic Object File


Konica Minolta RAW Image Format File


Nikon RAW Image File


Nikon RAW Image File


Olympus RAW Format File


Pentax RAW Image File


Fujifilm RAW Image File


Native Digital Camera File


Panasonic Lumix RAW Image File


Leica RAW Image Format File


Sony RAW 2 Image File


Sony RAW File


Samsung RAW Image File


Tag Image File Format


Sigma Camera RAW Picture File


Sigma Super Fine Detail Picture File


Most modern digital cameras and an increasing number of mobile devices allow their users to capture raw image data in a variety of raw file formats. This score reflects the software's ability to recover photos in these formats using their unique signatures

Average Score

#SignatureDescriptionScan Score

GoPRO 360 Degree Video File


ARRI Professional Digital Video Camera File


ARRI Professional Digital Video Camera File


Audio Video Interleave Multimedia Container with GoPRO CineForm Intermediate Codec


Audio Video Interleave Multimedia Container with MJPG, H.264, MSMPEG4 v2 Codecs


Blackmagic RAW Video File


Insta360 Panoramic H.264 Video File


Insta360 Panoramic HEVC or HVC1 Video File


QuickTime File Format with Apple ProRes 422 Proxy, LT or HQ Codec


QuickTime File Format with Apple ProRes 4444 Raw or HQ Codec


QuickTime File Format with H.264 Codec


QuickTime File Format with CineForm HD Codec


QuickTime File Format with HEVC or HVC1 Codec


Digital Multimedia Container Format with H.264 Codec


Digital Multimedia Container Format with HEVC, HVC1 or Apple ProRes Codec


Material Exchange Format for Professional Digital Video and Audio Media with H.264 Codec


Material Exchange Format for Professional Digital Video and Audio Media with DVCPRO HD Codec


Material Exchange Format for Professional Digital Video and Audio Media with ARRI RAW or Apple ProRes Codec


Material Exchange Format for Professional Digital Video and Audio Media with XDCAM HD422 or HD35 MPEG2 Codec


Red Digital Camera Company RAW Video File


Windows Media Video Image with Pro RAW 9 Codec


Video file formats have undergone significant evolution during the past decade. This rating assesses the software's effectiveness in recovering various video files using its signature scanner

Average Score

#SignatureDescriptionScan Score

Microsoft Access 2007+ Database File


Scanned Document File Format Intended For Scanned Images


Microsoft Word 97 – 2003 Document File


Microsoft Word 2007+ Document File


FictionBook 2.0 eBook File


Apple Keynote Office Application File


Microsoft Access 97 - 2003 Database File


Apple Numbers Office Application File


OpenDocument Presentation File Format


OpenDocument Spreadsheet File Format


OpenDocument Text Document File Format


Apple Pages Office Application File


Portable Document Format File


Microsoft Powerpoint 97 - 2003 Presentation File


Microsoft Powerpoint 2007+ Presentation File


Rich Text Format File


Microsoft Excel 97 - 2003 Spreadsheet File


Microsoft Excel 2007+ Spreadsheet File


Documents are among the most commonly recovered file formats because their importance can be tremendous, especially when they're related to work or school. This score indicates the software's proficiency in recovering different document types based on their signatures

Average Score


Feeling puzzled by terms like "Quick scan" and "Deep scan"? This link explains the different scan modes and their specific purposes.

PhotoRec for Mac’s scan results are both impressive and limited. The software doesn’t support any file system-based recovery methods, instead recovering files based on file signatures. This means it works even if the file system is severely damaged, but it also means that file names and paths are always lost.

PhotoRec can recover over 480 file extensions, and, true to its name, it shines brightest when tasked with recovering image file formats. In our testing, it supported almost all formats we threw at it, save for a few exceptions like INSP, MEF, and MPO. Video file formats didn’t lag far behind, with a success rate just 2% lower than that for images. 

However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, especially when it comes to document file formats. Here, PhotoRec stumbles a bit, still managing to pull off above-average results but struggling with some common formats like DOCX, and Apple’s KEY and NUMBERS files.

For these reasons, PhotoRec is a powerful tool in the data recovery arsenal of all Mac users who don’t want to spend money on a commercial solution, particularly for those dealing with damaged file systems or seeking to recover multimedia files.

Additional scan features

Other notable scanning features and their performance These advanced scanning features expand the software's capabilities, adding flexibility to scanning process and allowing it to recover data from a wider range of data loss scenarios
Average Score
1The number of file types supported by signature scan4
2Native deep scan of system drives on M1/M2/M3-powered Macs0
3Native deep scan of system drives on T2-encrypted Macs0
4Native data recovery from local Time Machine snapshots0
5Scan for lost partitions0
6HFS+ directory rebuild0
7Recovered files' labeling3
8Partial file recovery0
9Disk images: scan and recovery5

As we already mentioned earlier, PhotoRec has impressive signature scanning capabilities. It can recognize more than 480 file extensions (about 300 file families), which is far more than what many commercial data recovery software applications are capable of. You can use the signature scanner to scan traditional storage devices as well as their images (copies).

Device Support

Supported internal and external storage devices Ideally, data recovery software applications should be able to recover from internal and external hard drives, external USB flash drives, memory cards, smartphones, and other commonly used storage devices
Average Score
1Internal and external HDD3
2Internal and external SSD2
3USB thumb drives / Classic iPods (non-iOS) / FireWire devices5
4Memory cards5
5iOS devices0
6iOS backups0
8Android devices0
9Recovery from RAID1, 0, JBOD0
10Encrypted device support0
11Unmountable partitions5
12NAS (Network-attached storage) RAID devices0
13Remote SSH (secure shell protocol) Linux based devices recovery0

If you have an internal or external hard drive, USB flash drive, or memory card, then it’s basically guaranteed that PhotoRec will be able to recover it without any problem. What PhotoRec can’t do is recover data from mobile devices, storage devices with encryption, and RAID arrays. 

Other notable recovery features

Additional recovery features and their performance These additional recovery features are what often separates average data recovery software solutions from those that can satisfy the needs of professionals and power users
Average Score
1Overall non-intrusive read-only algorithms0
2Network recovery0
3Effectively filters out corrupted scan results0
4Byte-to-byte device backups0
5Bootable recovery drive creation0
6Runs in macOS native recovery mode0
7Convenient scan session management0
8Bad sector management0
9Recovery chance prediction0
10RAID reconstructor0
11Disk vitals monitoring and tracking during scan0
12Data protection0
13Links to in-lab recovery service for physically damaged devices0
14Scan speed4
15Scan free space only0
16Start file recovery without interrupting the scan5
17Preview recoverable items without interrupting the scan0
18Forensic features0

PhotoRec automatically recoveres all found files to the selected destination folder, and you can browse the content of this folder using finder or some other file browser even when the scan process is still running. The bad news is that this is the only other notable recovery feature we can talk about. 



12 rating criteria

PhotoRec isn’t a feature-packed data recovery software, and it’s easy to understand why. Christophe Grenier, who is single-handily responsible for most of PhotoRec’s source code, can do only so much, and he focuses on data recovery performance. 

1Disk space mapping NoNot supported
2Disk clean up NoNot supported
3Corrupted video repair tool NoNot supported
4Corrupted photo repair tool NoNot supported
5S.M.A.R.T. NoNot supported
6Duplicate finder NoNot supported
7Built-in disk space secure eraser NoNot supported
8Disk cloning NoNot supported
9Disk surface test NoNot supported
10Secure data shredding NoNot supported

As you can see, no extra features commonly offered by commercial data recovery applications are supported by PhotoRec. 

What Users Say about PhotoRec for Mac

If you’re old enough to have run MS-DOS, you’ll have an idea of what to expect from PhotoRec. You start the application by typing a command on the command line (for Mac users, that’s sudo photorec), then read the text prompts and use your keyboard to interact with the program.

For most users, this will feel like going back to the dark ages. Technical Linux users will feel right at home.

Adrian Try (

Good news: Photorec can find lost DV files (like those from old iMovie Version up to iMovieHD6). Successfully (StellarPhoenix Mac data recovery did fail in that attempt only finding like one frame of every movie).

Cox Orange (

Don't let the DOS-like user interface fool you. This is the BEST software to recover photos from SDCard. You just select the SD Card, select a directory to place the recovered files, and BOOM, everything will be there. Can't be better than that. And it's totally free!

danarrib (

So that’s about all there is to it. While it can look a little intimidating at first, PhotoRec is actually very easy to use once you get used to the way to navigate through it. And it has saved my bacon on more than a few cases.

David Coleman (

Video Resources for PhotoRec for Mac: Tutorials and Helpful Guides

Would you like to see PhotoRec in action to better understand how it works? Then watch the tutorials below.

Top 3 Best Data Recovery Software for Mac in 2021

What is the best data recovery software for Mac in 2021? We are going to review the top 3 Mac data recovery software to help you get your data back.

How to Recover Deleted SD Card Files for FREE | Mac (Working 2020)

In this video I will be showing how to recover recently deleted files on your Mac, SD card, external hard drive, thumb drive or anything that you plug into your computer.

Bottom line

PhotoRec for macOS is a good data recovery application, but it’s not for everyone. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to spend any time in terminal, then you should stay away from PhotoRec because there are many great alternatives with polished graphical user interfaces. 

If you don’t mind command-line software applications as long as they perform well, then you should give PhotoRec a try but keep in mind its limitations, such as its inability to recover original file names and paths or the lack of extra features. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some questions Mac users frequently ask about PhotoRec.

Does PhotoRec work on Mac?

Yes, the PhotoRec works on Mac computers, even those with M1 processors.

To install PhotoRec on a Mac computer, you need to first install a package manager called Homebrew:

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Copy & paste the following command:
    /bin/bash -c “$(curl -fsSL”
  3. Install PhotoRec by installing the TestDisk homebrew package (PhotoRec is included with it): brew install testdisk

PhotoRec is a command-line software application, so you need to launch it from Terminal:

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Enter the following command and press Return:
    sudo photorec

If PhotoRec isn’t already installed on your Mac, then you can install it using Homebrew.

You can download PhotoRec for Mac from its official website, but we recommend you install it using the Homebrew package manager instead.

Yes, PhotoRec does run on M1 Macs thanks to Rosetta 2, a dynamic binary translator developed by Apple to allow x64 software to run the ARM architecture.

To recover photos with PhotoRec for Mac, launch the application from the Terminal app and scan the storage device where the photos were located. Make sure to enable all image file signatures in Settings.

If you’ve installed PhotoRec on Mac using the Homebrew package manager, then you can delete it using the following command:

brew remove testdisk *(PhotoRec is inlaced in the TestDisk package)

If the PhotoRec binary file is impossible to execute on your Mac, then it probably lacks the necessary permissions. To fix this problem:

  1. Right-click the PhotoRec executable.
  2. Click the Open option.
  3. Confirm your decision to launch PhotoRec.

Next time, you can simply double-click the PhotoRec executable, and it should launch normally. 

To recover files from an SD card using PhotoRec, you need to insert the SD card before you launch PhotoRec because the data recovery application doesn’t automatically refresh available source devices.

👍 Worth a try

PhotoRec for Mac Review – Capable but Difficult to Use

Out of 5 Total score

No. 7 Among all macOS solutions

If you don’t fear software that runs in Terminal on Mac, then you should give PhotoRec a try because it can recover an unlimited amount of data for free. 

Visit developer's website
PhotoRec Logo
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David Morelo

David Morelo is a professional content writer with a specialization in data recovery. He spends his days helping users from around the world recover from data loss and address the numerous issues associated with it.

When not writing about data recovery techniques and solutions, he enjoys tinkering with new technology, working on personal projects, exploring the world on his bike, and, above all else, spending time with his family.

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Nikolay Lankevich
Nikolay Lankevich

Nikolay Lankevich has over 15 years of strong experience in various fields and platform includes Disaster Recovery, Windows XP/7. System analysis, design, application (Inter/Intranet) development, and testing. Provided technical supports on desktop and laptops on Win-XP and Macintosh for about 2000 employees.