It is obvious that the digitalization era has revamped our thinking and developed a new way of storing information. We call them files – a computer resource able to store various kinds of data ranging from music, pictures, or videos to important records and docs. Let’s be honest, nobody likes losing important data either due to accidental misclicking or unintentional system corruption. Today our topic of focus is ways of recovering deleted files on Mac – an operating system used worldwide by millions of users. Alike it’s main competitor Windows, Mac offers a number of methods to restore data even when it seems to be deleted forever. The difficulty of recovering files often depends on whether you emptied the Trash Bin upon deleting a file. If the Trash Bin is emptied, it may require help from third-party tools or advanced Mac features. Below, we will show all the methods covering both third-party and manual steps to recover lost files on Mac.

recover deleted files on mac

Download file-recovery utility for Mac

It is sometimes hard to recover data deleted from Trash Bin, especially when it comes to dealing with large volumes of it. For this specific reason, many third-party vendors got active and started developing dedicated tools to help users recover files more easily and without time-draining manual steps. One of the favorites around macOS users is definitely Stellar Data Recovery Pro for Mac developed by Stellar Data Recovery Inc. – an advanced utility created to get around the most difficult tasks when it comes to returning deleted files. The program has got a number of useful features allowing users to manage their recovery process in a faster and more convenient way. You can use the button below to download Stellar Data Recovery Pro for Mac, then perform a free scan and preview lost data to make sure it is what you are actually looking for. In order to recover detected files, the program requires buying an upgraded version. Apart from this utility, Stellar Data Recovery Inc. have a number of other helpful products that you can explore to maintain your macOS device.

Download Stellar Data Recovery

1. Recover files from Trash Bin (if not emptied yet)

If you have not yet emptied the Trash Bin after deleting a file, it can be easily recovered using a couple of steps below. Before fully removing the file, Mac moves it into the Trash Bin. This is done to prevent users from deleting important files by accident.

  1. Open the Trash Bin from the lower right side of your screen.
  2. If you see the file you want to restore, simply select and drag it to the desktop. Alternatively, you can also right-click on the file and choose Put back. The file will return to the location from where it was deleted.

2. Undo deletion of files

This is another easy method that can be used to quickly return the just deleted files. In fact, it will return the file back similarly to the solution we discussed above – but much faster and without manually opening the Trash Bin.

You may also use this way in the future for faster and more convenient recovery of data. If you deleted the file just now and want to recover it quickly, do the following:

  1. Click on Edit on top of your desktop and select the Undo Move option.
  2. As an alternative, you can also press a combination of Command + Z keystrokes to undo the previously made action even quicker.

Note that this method works only if you have not done anything else after deleting the file.

3. Return files using Terminal

Terminal is an in-built console usually meant to perform advanced commands. However, it can also be used to recover files that were completely deleted from Trash Bin. It is a free and native solution to regain access back to lost data. Unfortunately, the biggest downside of it is that you must enter the exact name of lost data. This might become a problem if you want to recover big volumes of files and simply do not remember all of their names. If you are unable to recall the names of all files you need to restore, it is better to use third-party tools like Stellar Data Recovery Pro for macOS we mentioned after the introduction above. Meanwhile, here are the instructions for recovering files through the Terminal console.

  1. Navigate to Finder > Applications > Utilities and open Terminal by double-clicking on it.
  2. Copy-paste cd.Trash and press the Return button on your keyboard.
  3. Then type this command mv replacing with the full filename and its extension. Press Return afterwards.
  4. Run as many of such commands as you need if more files have to be restored.
  5. After restoring all the necessary files, simply close the Terminal window.

4. Recover lost files via Time Machine Backup

Time Machine is another in-built macOS application that comes in handy when restoring lost data. The system utility records information about all files deleted throughout Mac usage. Here is how you can capitalize on this free and useful tool:

  1. Open the folder from where the file was deleted. If it was deleted from the desktop, you don’t have to open anything.
  2. Next, click on the clock icon in the top menu bar (close to Wifi icon and time) and choose Enter Time Machine.
  3. Note: If you don’t see any clock icon, go to Apple Menu in the top left corner, then System Preferences. Click Time Machine and select Show Time Machine in menu bar. Now it should become visible.

  4. After opening Time Machine, you will be able to navigate between various backup dates. Select one or more items you want to restore and click Restore afterwards.
  5. Finally, check if your files have been returned to their original location. If you find our instructions for using Time Machine unclear, you can visit the official Apple page for broader guidelines.


    It is always hard to bear the thought of losing access to important files forever. Even if you deleted a file from Trash Bin and think it is now irreversibly lost, it is still very likely you will be able to return it without a problem. We hope our instructions managed to prove this and helped you successfully recover the files you needed.

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James Kramer
Hello, I'm James. My website, a culmination of a decade's journey in the realms of computer troubleshooting, software testing, and development. My mission here is to offer you comprehensive, yet user-friendly guides across a spectrum of topics in this niche. Should you encounter any challenges with the software or the methodologies I endorse, please know that I am readily accessible for assistance. For any inquiries or further communication, feel free to reach out through the 'Contacts' page. Your journey towards seamless computing starts here