How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac With/Without Software

Home > HowTos > File Recovery Tips on Mac Updated by Robert on June 12, 2024 | Approved by Daryl Baxter

Losing essential files on your Mac can be nerve-wracking and can happen in various ways. It could be accidental deletion, an empty trash bin, or a software malfunction. Whatever the case, the good news is that you may still have a chance to recover them. In fact, with the right tools and patience, it's possible to recover deleted files on Mac with/without software. Whether you're a seasoned Mac user or just getting started, knowing how to do this can be a lifesaver. So, let's explore how to undelete files in a Mac.

Quick Navigation
Part 1. Are files permanently deleted from Mac?
Part 2. 7 Ways to Recover Deleted Files on Mac Without Software
Part 3. 3 Ways to Recover Permanently Deleted Files on Mac With Software [Free and Paid]
Part 4. Tips for Preventing Data Loss on Mac in the Future
Part 5. Frequently Asked Questions

Are files permanently deleted from Mac?

When removing files from a Mac, many users believe that once a file is gone, it's gone for good. But the truth is, deleting a file from a Mac doesn't necessarily mean it's permanently gone. Whether you empty the trash bar or permanently delete it, the file doesn't disappear immediately. The macOS only marks the space previously occupied by the deleted files as available for reuse. However, the actual data of those files may still exist on the storage device until new data overwrites it. So, when you accidentally delete files on Mac, take remedial measures immediately; you still have a chance to get the deleted files back on Mac. For that, read on to know more details.

7 Ways to Recover Deleted Files on Mac Without Software

Have you ever accidentally deleted an important file on your Mac? Don't panic! Actually, you can restore deleted files on a Mac without software. But these methods only work if you have yet to empty the trash or have a backup in advance. If you fit these options, then you can take the following approach. If not, then please go to the third part.

Method 1. Check your Trash Bin

The macOS has a built-in "Trash" feature where all deleted items are placed until the user manually empties the Trash. Therefore, you can try the following steps to find recently deleted files on Mac:

  1. Open the Trash at the bottom right of the screen.
  2. Find your recently deleted item and select it in the list.
  3. Right-click and choose the option to "Put Back."
  4. Go to the location where the file disappeared to access it.

It is the most prominent and easy method that you can use to recover deleted files on Mac free. But, these files only remain for 30 days. If you don't want to save it to its original location, drag it to where you want to keep it.

Method 2. Use Time Machine

Any Mac running OS 10.5 or above has a built-in recovery/backup tool called Time Machine. It allows you to create data backups to avoid data loss issues. So, after accidentally deleting a file you once backed up, you can use Time Machine to restore lost files on your Mac.

  1. Connect your external drive as the item's backup to your Mac using a USB.
  2. Locate the menu bar and tap the clock icon to open "Time Machine."
  3. Next, you must browse for snapshots stored using a timeline and arrows.
  4. Select the deleted files and click the "Restore" option to save them.

Method 3. Make Use of the Apps Built-in Auto Recovery Feature

With the development of technology, many applications now have auto-save options to prevent emergencies, such as MS Office, Adobe, SketchUp, etc. Therefore, you can use the following steps to retrieve accidentally deleted particular files on Mac.

  1. Open the Finder and select your entire Mac as the location.
  2. In the search bar, type "Autorecovery" and press enter.
  3. Copy the one you need to a new location.
  4. Open it with the appropriate application and save it again.

Tip: This method only applies to the App with an auto-save option.

Method 4. Check Deleted Items by iCloud

iCloud is a cloud storage solution provided by Apple for its users, which allows users to synchronize essential data for use on different devices. So when file loss occurs, you can also recover permanently deleted files from iCloud.

  1. Open on the browser and log in using your iCloud credentials.
  2. Click iCloud Drive from the options on your screen.
  3. Find an option called "Recently Deleted" in the bottom right corner of the window. Click on it to see your deleted files.
  4. Choose the files you want and click the "Recover" button.

Tip: Whether you want to retrieve deleted files on MacBook Pro or any other Mac device, the critical thing to remember is that this will only work if you have iCloud backup active on your Mac. If your files are not getting backed up regularly, then you will not be able to find anything.

Method 5. Other Ways to Find Recently Deleted Files on Mac

Here are some uncommon methods that can help you recover deleted files on Mac without software. Although they are more demanding, you can still try them.

If all the above Mac undelete methods do not work. Don't worry. You can also try the software to help you solve your data loss troubles.

3 Ways to Recover Permanently Deleted Files on Mac With Software [Free and Paid]

Losing essential files on a Mac can be a nightmare, especially if you don't have a backup. But what if we told you that you could retrieve permanently deleted files on Mac with the right software? It might sound too good to be true, but it's possible. There are a variety of programs out there that are specifically designed to help with data recovery. For this, you can check out the following three options to save you hours of searching.

Method 1. Using iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac

With its advanced algorithms, you can get deleted or lost photos, videos, documents, and more from various devices, such as SSD/HDD, external hard drives, flash drives, memory cards, and even emptied trash bins for free. Its user-friendly interface and straightforward recovery process make it an excellent choice for those who are not tech-savvy but still need to find precious data. Overall, it is a lifesaver for anyone looking to undelete files on Mac.

To find out how you can use the iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac to recover deleted files on Mac free, follow these steps carefully:

  1. Download and install iBeesoft data recovery freeware on your Mac.
  2. After running it, you can uncheck the options you do not require to save extra time searching the needed files and click the "Start" button to next.
  3. On the next screen, you will see a list of all the storage devices you can scan. Select the hard drive where you lost your files, and then click on the blue "Scan" button on the top left of the screen to begin the scanning process.
  4. Once you've completed the scanning, you can see the files found in the main window. You can click the type option to locate the files you accidentally deleted quickly.
  5. Select target files and tap the "Recover" option to save them on your disk.

Tip: If your deleted files don't appear in the initial scan, click the Deep Scan button to analyze each sector thoroughly. This may take longer than usual, but this unerase freeware will find more data.

Method 2. Restore deleted files on Mac free by PhotoRec

PhotoRec is an open-source recovery tool that can retrieve data even from damaged or formatted disks. Unfortunately, while powerful, it doesn't have a graphical interface, which can be a challenge for many users. However, don't worry; you can follow the steps below to help recover permanently deleted files on Mac free.

  1. Visit the official PhotoRec website and download the appropriate version for your operating system.
  2. Open the Terminal, navigate to the folder where PhotoRec is installed, and run the "./photorec" command.
  3. Select the Storage Device > Partition Type > Filesystem Type > Recovery Options > Output Directory.
  4. It will begin the Mac undelete process, scanning the selected storage device for recoverable files.
  5. Navigate to the selected output directory to find the recovered files.

Method 3. Using Data Recovery Service

If nothing works for you, this method may be the last to try an option to help you retrieve permanently deleted files on Mac. For this, you can go through the following steps to find a reputable and reliable data recovery service center.

  1. Find a service provider near you by searching.
  2. Tell the service personnel the detailed process of your essential data loss by phone and wait for the service center's feedback.
  3. Send your hard drive to a service center for a technician to check it and provide a report.
  4. Select a recovery plan and make payment.
  5. Complete the delete file recovery and send the drive back to you.

With the above methods, you should be able to recover deleted files on Mac with/without software. However, to avoid such a situation from happening again, you also follow the tips below to keep your important data safe.

Tips for Preventing Data Loss on Mac in the Future

If you are looking to prevent any data loss on your Mac device in the future, there are specific points you should bear in mind.

By following these tips, you can minimize the risk of data loss and enhance the overall security and reliability of your Mac.


Summing Up

We've all been there - accidentally deleting an important file or document from our Mac. The heart-sinking feeling that comes with realizing what has happened can be overwhelming. But fear not; several methods exist to recover deleted files on Mac with/without software. Acting fast and avoiding overwriting the deleted files using the drive is essential, whichever way you choose. With some effort, you should successfully regain your lost data and sigh in relief.