How to Recover Files on Mac Desktop (Fix Mac Desktop Empty)

Updated to macOS Data Recovery Tips by Robert on Sep 13, 2023 | Approved by Cesar C

"Where did all my desktop files go on Mac? I can’t find them. It seems all of them suddenly disappeared from the desktop. I can’t find them anywhere. Mac desktop Emptied!!!"

If you find your Mac desktop emptied, you need to make clear why it emptied and where your files are. Here in the following, let’s learn how to recover desktop files on Mac and how to recover deleted files on Mac desktop.

Quick Navigation
Part 1. How to Fix Mac Desktop Emptied (icons , files and folders disappear)
Part 2. How to Recover Deleted Files/Folders on Mac Desktop

Part 1. How to Fix Mac Desktop Emptied

If your Mac show empty desktop, it must be drive icons, files and folders all disappeared, right? In this case, we need to fix them one by one.

How to display missing drive icons

  1. Launch Finder in the Dock. After then, click Finder > Preferences on the top left.
  2. See the default General tab? Tick all the options for "Show these items on the desktop".

How to display disappeared files and folders on Mac desktop

If these files and folders disappeared, the very first thing you need to think of is whether they’re hidden by other apps for some reason. To do it, just click Launchpad, and find the Terminal app. Launch it, and type in "cd /Users/username/Desktop and ls" to view the desktop files and folders.

To display the disappeared files and folders on Mac desktop, type in " AppleShowAllFiles true and killall Finder" like the screenshot shown below.

Another possible reason why files and folders disappeared on Mac desktop is that you’ve enabled iCloud backup and not keep a copy of these files on your desktop. It is the reason for the "Home folder emptied/disappeared". To solve the problem, go to System Preferences > iCloud drive > Options > Deselect the checkbox for Desktop " Document Folders -> Click Done -> Choose to keep a local copy.

If you fixed the problem of "Mac desktop empty" or "home folder empty" issue by making use of the above-mentioned way, congratulation! However, if you deleted desktop files on Mac, you have to use data recovery software to recover them. The sooner the better. Otherwise, you’ll lose them permanently.

Part 2. How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac Desktop

If you deleted desktop files and folders, the very first thing you need to do is installing a data recovery software on your Mac and perform the Mac desktop data recovery as soon as possible. You know, all deleted desktop files do not disappear right away after a deletion. They’re there, waiting to be replaced by new data. If you can hurry up, you have the opportunity to recover deleted files on Mac. Otherwise, you’ll lose them permanently.

To recover deleted desktop files mac, you need the help of Mac data recovery. It’s specially developed for Mac users to recover files lost or deleted. It supports all kinds of file types, including pictures, videos, audio files, emails, documents and more lost due to deletion, virus attack, system failure, system crash, and errors. Here in the following, let’s how to recover desktop files on mac with iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac.

Your Safe & Effective Mac Desktop File Recovery Software

(Trust Score 4.7 by 1695 Users)
  • Read-only and high recovery rate program without destroying any data and settings
  • It can also recover files lost from USB drive, memory card, digital camera, video player and more on Mac after any data loss disaster.
  • Have "Deep Scan" option to easily recover desktop files on mac.
Free Download
  1. Download the Mac version of iBeesoft Data Recovery. It’s fully compatible with all macOS, including the latest Catalina and most widely used Mojave. Install it on your Mac.
  2. Launch the Mac desktop data recovery software. From the start-up window, you can see all supported file types are selected. You can either click "Start" to let the software work right away or deselect the unwanted ones and keep the only wanted ones before let it start. By doing this, it will shorten the whole scanning process and only looking for your target files.
  3. In the next window, you can see all the hard drives of your Mac are displayed. You need to select the one where your desktop files saved to and click "Scan" to recover desktop files on Mac.
  4. It takes a while for the software to scan the deleted Mac desktop files for you. When it finished, you can see all found files are sorted into categories in the left panel. You can filter files with file types and extensions, preview them on the right panel. When find the target files, select them and click "Recover" to save them on your Mac again. Do not save them on the desktop again, you might lose them again. Save them to some other locations.