How to recover deleted files on Mac or recover files emptied from Mac Trash?

Updated by Admin to Mac Data Recovery on January 9th, 2020

I aciedently deleted files on MacBook Pro, is there any way for me to recover deleted files on macOS 10.8?

There are several solutions about how to recover deleted files on Mac and how to recover files emptied from Mac Trash.

How to recover deleted files on Mac without software?

Solution 1: Restore deleted files by operating "Undo Move"

If the last thing you did in the Finder was to delete files, you can select Edit > Undo Move (Command-Z) to return deleted files to their previous positions.

Solution 2: Restore deleted files from Mac trash

Any files that are deleted from the Finder in macOS or Mac OS X go to the Trash. The files are kept there so that they can be rescued if we change our mind later. Since the garbage files in Mac Trash would take a certain space on Mac hard drive, we empty the Mac Trash regularly. But sometimes we realize that there are some very important files in the Mac Trash after getting it emptied.

If you simply put files in the Mac trash, you can restore them by opening the Trash (left-click on the Trash icon) and drag the files from the Trash to your Desktop or other desired location, or right click the files on the Trash and select "Put Back" to restore the deleted files to their original location.

Recover deleted files from Mac Trash

Once the Mac Trash is emptied, it's impossible for us to find the emptied files in Mac trash again. So, how can we recover those important files emptied from Mac Trash? That is a big problem. And many of us may get into the same trouble. Now, we'd like to share some solutions to recover deleted files emptied from Mac Trash.

Solution 3: Recover deleted files from Time Machine backup

Time Machine is a built-in backup tool which can automatically back up all of your files. If you have emptied the Trash or can't find the deleted file you need in the Trash, you can restore deleted files from Time Machine Backups if you enabled it.

Step 1: Connect the backup drive to the Mac computer.

Step 2: Open the folder that once contained your deleted files.

Step 3: Click the Time Machine icon in the top left menu bar and select Enter Time Machine.

Step 4: Browse the items in the backup folder by using on-screen up/down arrows or using the timeline at the edge of the screen. If you want to find files of the older version, using timeline to navigate the files is faster. You will be able to see a lot of snapshots of this whole folder and how the folder changes.

Step 5: Select an item and press Space bar or double-click it to preview it.

Step 6: Select the file you want to restore, and then click Restore.

Solution 4: Recover deleted files with Mac Terminal

Step 1: Open Applications folder and click on Utilities folder.

Step 2: Double-click on "Terminal" to open the application.

Step 3: Type command: cd .Trash and hit the "Return" key on your Mac.

Step 4: Key in the name of the file you would like to recover using the following format "mv xxx ../" (without quotations). Replace the "xxx" part of the format with the full name of the file you deleted and now want to recover.

Step 5: Hit the "Return" key on your Mac.

Step 6: Open Finder, enter the name of the deleted file in the search bar at the top right part of the window.

Step 7: Click on the file you found in Finder and drag it onto your desktop or the location you wish to save the file.

Actually, recovering deleted files from Mac Terminal is using "cd .Trash" command to invoke Trash and using "mv xxx ../" command to move the file from Trash. So it is impossible to recover deleted files from Mac Terminal if we have emptied the Trash before we try to recover deleted files from Mac Terminal. Besides that, when we enter the Terminal commands incorrectly, we will just get the "command not found" message.

To make things easy, we can recover deleted files on Mac with data recovery software as below.

How to recover deleted files on Mac with data recovery software?

Is it possible to recover deleted files on Mac? It depends on whether the deleted files have been overwritten or not.

If you emptied Mac Trash, the files are gone.

If a program does an immediate delete rather than moving files to the Mac trash, then the files are gone.

The key to recover deleted files is to stop using the drive immediately. When a file is deleted, it is set to be overwritten. If you stop using the drive, it is possible to undelete files that have not been overwritten by using a free data recovery software for Mac, such as M3 Mac Data Recovery.

M3 Mac Data Recovery is a free data recovery software which can recover deleted files (Such as documents, photos, music, videos, emails) on macOS Catalina 10.15/10.14/10.13/10.12 and Mac OS X 10.11/10.10/10.9/10.8.

Solution 1: How to recover deleted/lost files from Macintosh HD on macOS Catalina/Mojave/High Sierra?

On macOS High Sierra and later version, there is a security mechanism named "System Integrity Protection" (SIP), which prevents any application from reading Macintosh HD. And when we want to use M3 Mac Data Recovery to scan Macintosh HD, we need to temporarily disable SIP, otherwise M3 Mac Data Recovery will be prevented from scanning.

Step 1: Boot to Recovery OS by restarting Mac and pressing & holding down Command + R keys at startup.

Disble SIP step 1

Step 2: Launch Terminal from Utilities.

Step 3: Enter the command: csrutil disable and press Return.

Disble SIP step 2

Step 4: Restart Mac computer.

Step 5: To avoid lost data being overwritten, please download M3 Mac Data Recovery to an external drive.

In order to maximize the chance of getting lost data back, you need to stop using that drive immediately. Every time disk writes happen, they could be overwriting your lost data in Macintosh HD, making it impossible to recover.

Step 6: Doule click the installation package of M3 Mac Data Recovery software, click M3 Mac Data Recovery icon to directly run it, instead of dragging it to Applications folder.

Install M3 Mac Data Recovery

Step 7: Select the APFS drive where lost files and click Next to continue.

Apple APFS data recovery software

If macOS Macintosh HD is encrypted APFS, the unlock password of encrypted APFS drive is required to recover data from encrypted APFS drive.

Enter the password to scan lost files from APFS drive with M3 Mac Data Recovery

Step 8: M3 Mac Data Recovery software is scanning the deleted/lost files from APFS drive.

Scan lost files from APFS drive with M3 Mac Data Recovery

Step 9: After the scan completes, preview documents, photos, videos, audios, or select the found files and then click Recover to save them.

Recover lost files from APFS drive with M3 Mac Data Recovery

If the deleted files are not found, please try deep scan to find more files.

Solution 2: How to recover deleted/lost files from Macintosh HD on macOS Sierra/Mac OS X?

Step 1: To avoid lost data being overwritten, please download M3 Mac Data Recovery to an external drive.

In order to maximize the chance of getting lost data back, you need to stop using that drive immediately. Every time disk writes happen, they could be overwriting your lost data in Macintosh HD, making it impossible to recover.

Step 2: Doule click the installation package of M3 Mac Data Recovery software, click M3 Mac Data Recovery icon to directly run it, instead of dragging it to Applications folder.

Install M3 Mac Data Recovery

Step 3: Select the drive where you want to recover deleted files.

Mac data recovery software

Step 4: M3 Mac Data Recovery is scanning the deleted files from Macintosh HD.

Recover deleted files on macOS - M3 Mac Data Recovery Free

Step 5: After the scan completes, preview documents, photos, videos, audios, etc. or select the deleted files you want to recover and then click Recover to save them.

Recover deleted files on Mac

If the deleted files are not found, please try deep scan to find more files.

Solution 3: How to recover deleted/lost files from external hard drive, USB drive, SD card, etc. on macOS/Mac OS X?

Step 1: Please don't write any new data to the external hard drive, USB drive, SD card, memory card, etc. after you find some files were deleted/lost.

Step 2: Insert the external drive (external hard drive, USB drive, SD card, memory card, etc.) into your Mac computer.

Step 3: Download and install M3 Mac Data Recovery on your Mac computer and launch it.

Step 4: Select the external drive (external hard drive, USB drive, SD card, memory card, etc.) and click Next to scan deleted files.

Step 5: After deleted files are found, please preview documents, photos, videos, audios, etc. or click Recover to save them to another drive. If the deleted files are not found, please try deep scan to find more files.

Besides to recover deleted files on Mac and recover emptied Mac Trash, M3 Mac Data Recovery can also recover data from formatted drive, recover data from unreadable drive, recover data from unmounted drive, recover data from APFS drive, recover data from deleted/lost APFS partition, etc.

To sum up, when you press the "Delete" key, you can find it in the Trash. Even emptying the Trash doesn't get rid of it completely. There are many ways to get them back. If none of the solutions above work but the deleted files are very important, the last chance is to take your hard drive to a specialist recovery company. However, the best way of avoiding data loss is to make regular backups of your important data using the built-in Time Machine.

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