How to Fix Folders and Files Grayed out on Mac

Home > HowTos > Troubleshooting Tips Updated by William on July 1, 2024 | Approved by Daryl Baxter

"Why are my files greyed out on mac? I can’t open the greyed out files and folders. There are certain folders greyed out in Finder".

Generally speaking, all files and folders are displayed in Finder with the normal font and icons. It’s available for users to get access to the files and folders. However, due to some incidents, you may find files grayed out or folders grayed out on Mac. What’s worse, you can’t open them at all., let alone delete them on Mac. Here in the article, we’re going to discuss why are folders and files grayed out on Mac and how to fix the grayed out issues.

Why are Folder/Files Greyed Out on Mac

The very likely reason for why are my documents greyed out on Mac is the transferring files from one place to another place, moving folders from one place to another place, and the transferring process was interrupted. After that, you can see the files or folders grayed on in Finder. And all these grayed out files or folders are dated as 24 January 1984. What does it mean "24 January 1984"? It’s the date when Macintosh was first introduced. Now, you know the reason for why folders or files greyed out on Mac, you need to be careful while moving files or folders from one place to another place. Let’s get started for how to fix the problem of greyed out files/folders on Mac.

  1. Click Launchpad, find the Terminal app there and launch it.
  2. Type "SetFile - d 12/01/2020/Path/to/grayed-out-folder/" and click return.

By doing this, the date for the grayed out Mac folders and files are changed to 12/01/2020. It is the date I put there as an example. You can replace it with any other data as you like. After then, you can see the grayed out folders and files are fixed. You can access the folders and files easily.

Folders/Files Loss after Grayed Out and How to Recover

In the above, I mentioned the most common way to fix grayed out folders and files on Mac. You can try it. If you’re lucky enough you can make it. However, there are other incidents, like hard drive formatting, operation errors, system failures, that cause data stuck in grayed out folders on Mac and the above-mentioned way not work at all. In this case, to avoid data loss, you need to make full use of data recovery software to recover permanently deleted files on Mac in grayed out folders or get back grayed out files directly.

iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac is a great and trustworthy tool you can try to scan your Mac and recover grayed out files and folders. It lets you scan Mac for files you lost or deleted, covering photos, emails, pictures, songs, audio files and more. It supports data recovery from flash drive, hard drive, memory card, digital devices due to deletion, system errors/crash/failure, virus attack and more. Here are the steps for how to restore files and folders on Mac with the Mac data recovery software.

  1. Install the Mac data recovery software
  2. First, free download the Mac data recovery software installation package. After then, install it on your Mac. Currently, this kind of software only available to download from its official site or MacUpdate. No recovery program is available at App Store since Apple does not allow. Feel free to install it on your Mac.

  3. Select file types to recover
  4. Launch the Mac data recovery software. From the start-up window, please select the file types you want to get back on your Mac due to grayed out. By default, all supported files are selected. To shorten the scanning process, my suggestion is only to select the file types you need. Click "Start" to confirm your selection.

  5. Select hard drive to scan
  6. Next, you can see all the hard drives are listed. Please select the one from where you want to recover deleted files on Mac. The files or folders are still in the former place before they’re overwritten permanently by new data. Select the target hard drive and click "Scan", letting the software scan the hard drive, looking for your target files.

  7. Preview and retrieve lost files on Mac after grayed out
  8. Last, wait for the scanning process to be finished. After then, you can see all found files are sorted into categories in the left panel of the window. To find the lost files due to grayed out quickly, try to filter the file types and file extension in the left side, and preview the files on the right side. When find the target files, select them and click "Recover" to save them on your Mac.

In the result window, you can also see the option "Deep Scan". It will scan your Mac more carefully for all possible target files. You can try it if you have not to find the target files with the default Quick Scan mode.


You’d never know what will happen to your Mac. In this case, you need to back up your important files, folders or hard drive. By doing this, there will be no problem with data loss or inaccessible. You can try to do it with the Mac built-in Time Machine.