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Best Ways To Recover Deleted Files On Mac


Deleting certain files from your computer is necessary in order to free space to store new data. However, there will be times when you intentionally or unintentionally delete a folder (or files). When this happens, ensure you do not panic as there are a handful of options through which you can recover these files, especially if you realize your mistake soon enough.

Is it Possible to Recover Recently or Permanently Deleted Files on MacBook?

When you delete files from your MacBook, they are immediately moved to “Trash.” At this point, they are still on your computer, although in a different folder – the “Trash” folder. It is, therefore, up to you to either remove these files from your computer completely or restore them to their previous location by clicking “Put Back” in Trash.

If you choose to completely remove these files from your computer, it will be impossible to discover them anywhere on your MacBook or hard drive via normal processes. However, if that isn’t the case, you stand a chance of recovering them via these so-called normal processes.

If you have, however, permanently deleted these files from your computer, they will still remain on your hard drive. This is because the operating system removes only the references to these files, thereby causing the computer to be unable to see the files, which then frees the space the files occupied. In other words, the files that have been deleted remain on the hard drive until another file takes up the space they used to occupy.

How to Increase the Success Rate of Deleted Files Recovery on MacBook

  • You need to stop saving new files (or edit existing files) on the hard drive from which you have deleted files. When you save new files (or edit existing ones), the probability of successful data recovery reduces. Depending on their size, the new files overwrite all (or part) of the deleted files on the hard drive; therefore, the larger the space overwritten, the lesser the chance of successful data recovery. If the deleted files are completely overwritten, it will be impossible for Mac data recovery app or specialized data recovery labs to recover them. It is, therefore, important to note that you need to shut down your computer immediately you delete files you didn’t intend to delete on your MacBook HD.
  • Furthermore, you need to execute immediate file recovery if you have: no backup of your hard drive or a corrupt hard drive. The most efficient way to do this is to download and install a professional data recovery software which will help you recover deleted files on your MacBook.

How to Recover Recently or Permanently Deleted Files on MacBook Without Software

The following are different methods you can employ in recovering your deleted files without any software.

#1 Restore Deleted Files from MacBook Trash

As mentioned earlier, the files you delete are usually sent to the Trash which holds them until you decide whether to restore these files or empty the Trash. If you haven’t emptied the Trash, there are two courses of action to take.

a. Restore deleted files with “Undo Move”

If you haven’t carried out any other operation on your computer, the file deletion can be undone.

  1. Open Finder on your Mac.
  2. Click on “Edit” from the menu bar.
  3. From the drop-down menu, click on the “Undo Move” of the file name.

Now, check the location from where you deleted the file. You will find it there.

b. Restore deleted files from Trash

If you have carried out other operations after the file deletion, you can always restore it from Trash.

  1. Open the Trash folder.
  2. Locate the file you deleted.
  3. Right-click the file and select “Put Back” from the menu.

As long as it is on your computer’s Trash, you can restore any deleted file. However, if the files are not in the Trash folder, there are other methods you can employ in recovering them.

#2 Recover Deleted Files from Time Machine Backup

Time machine is a data backup tool by Apple, and it is effective in avoiding unforeseen data loss. If this backup tool is turned on your MacBook, it is highly probable that you can recover deleted files from Time Machine backup.

Restore deleted files from Time Machine

  1. Connect the drive you used for Time Machine backup to your MacBook.
  2. Open the folder from where you deleted the files. For instance, if you delete files from Documents folder, open the Documents folder.
  3. Click the Time Machine icon available at the menu bar. You can also launch the tool from Launchpad, or simply go to Apple > System Preferences… > Time Machine
  4. Browse through the items in the backup folder using the timeline at the edge of the screen or the up/down arrows on the screen. The timeline can help you navigate the files faster, and it can help you locate files of the older version more easily. You will see several snapshots of the entire folder and how the folder has changed.
  5. Select the files you deleted.
  6. Click Restore.

If you, however, don’t have Time Machine backup enabled, you can recover deleted files using a third method.

#3 Recover Deleted Files from iCloud Drive

iCloud is a cloud computing and cloud storage service from Apple Inc. It securely stores your files–which include photos, videos, music, apps, documents and many more – and ensures they are updated across all your devices. iCloud also provides you with a way to restore deleted files when you delete them on

Restore deleted files from iCloud

  1. Open a web browser on your Mac, and visit the iCloud website at “” Log in with your Apple ID.
  2. Once you are logged in, click on Settings.
  3. Navigate to the bottom of the screen, and click “Restore Files” in the “Advanced” section. You will find a list of deleted files, along with their previous location, size, and time remaining till they expire.
  4. You need to tick the box beside the deleted file to restore it and then click “Restore.” When the deleted file is successfully restored, iCloud will send notify you.

If you want to recover the deleted files on your MacBook without any software; then one, if not all, of the aforementioned methods will help you.

If you are unable to do so, however, you will do well to download a professional data recovery software.

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