How can I recover deleted files from the Mac trash?

Help needed! Accidentally deleted important files and emptied my Mac’s Trash. Desperately looking for ways to recover them. Any solutions? Thanks!

Hey there! I can totally understand the panic of accidentally deleting important files on your Mac and then emptying the Trash. Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through several ways to try recovering those files. In some cases, recovery is possible even after emptying the Trash. Here are a few methods you can try step-by-step:

1. Check for Backups

Before jumping to specialized recovery tools, let’s check if you have any backups:

Time Machine Backup

If you use Time Machine, you might be in luck! Here’s how to restore files:

  1. Connect your Time Machine backup drive.
  2. Open the folder where the deleted files were originally located.
  3. Click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and select “Enter Time Machine”.
  4. Use the timeline on the right-hand side to navigate to a date before the files were deleted.
  5. Select the files and click “Restore”.

2. Search Through Cloud Storage

If you sync your files with iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or another cloud service, you might find a copy there:

iCloud Drive

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Go to iCloud Drive in the sidebar.
  3. Use the search bar to look for your deleted files.


  1. Log into your Dropbox account via the website.
  2. Click on “Deleted files” in the sidebar.
  3. Find your files and click Restore.

3. Use Specialized Data Recovery Software

If the backups and cloud storage don’t have your files, it’s time to bring in the big guns. There are several data recovery tools you can use. One highly recommended tool is Disk Drill, which has a good track record with Mac users.

Disk Drill

Disk Drill is user-friendly and highly effective. Here’s how you can use it:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill (CleverFiles homepage).
  2. Open Disk Drill and select the drive where the files were deleted.
  3. Click “Search for lost data”.
  4. Once the scan is complete, you’ll see a list of recoverable files. Use the checkboxes to select the ones you need.
  5. Click “Recover” and choose a safe location to save your files (not the original one to avoid overwriting data).

One thing to keep in mind – for the best chances of recovery, avoid using your Mac for anything else until you recover your files.

4. Check the Recently Deleted Folder

Some applications on your Mac have their own Trash or “Recently Deleted” folder. Check these apps:

Photos App

  1. Open the Photos app.
  2. Go to the “Recently Deleted” folder in the sidebar.
  3. Select the photos you want to recover and click “Recover”.

Notes App

  1. Open the Notes app.
  2. Go to the “Recently Deleted” folder in the sidebar.
  3. Right-click the note you want to recover and select “Move to” to bring it back to your notes list.

5. Use Terminal Commands

For advanced users, there are some Terminal commands that might help. However, use these carefully:

  1. Open Terminal (located in Applications > Utilities).
  2. Type the following command and hit Enter:
    cd .Trash
  3. Next, type:
    This will list all files currently in the Trash. If emptying the Trash was recent, sometimes files still linger.
  4. To recover a file, type:
    mv <filename> <destination path>
    Replace <filename> with the actual file name and <destination path> with where you want to save it. For example:
    mv important.docx ~/Desktop/

6. Seek Professional Help

If you’ve tried all of these steps and still can’t recover your files, you might need professional data recovery services. While this can be costly, services like DriveSavers or local specialists might be your last resort.

In Summary

When it comes to recovering deleted files from a Mac after emptying the Trash, the sooner you act, the better your chances of success. Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Check for backups using Time Machine, iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive.
  2. Use Disk Drill for a powerful recovery solution. Download it here(CleverFiles homepage).
  3. Check Recently Deleted folders in various applications.
  4. Use Terminal commands for a direct approach.
  5. Seek professional help as a last resort.

I hope this guide helps you recover your precious files. Good luck! Let me know how it goes or if you have any more questions.

Hey there,

Oh man, I’ve been exactly where you are, and it totally sucks! Accidentally deleting important stuff is like losing your car keys in a snowstorm. But fear not, my friend, there are a few options to try before you start building a time machine.

  1. Time Machine Backup
    First off, if you’ve been using Time Machine like Apple always nags us to, you’re in luck! Just open Time Machine (yep, the one in your Applications folder), go back to a date before the disaster, and just drag those files back to your desktop. Easy peasy!

  2. Third-Party Recovery Software
    No Time Machine? Don’t sweat it just yet. There’s some great recovery software out there like Disk Drill or Data Rescue. These bad boys scan your hard drive for bits of your deleted files. They usually have trial versions, so you can see if your files are recoverable before forking out any cash. Just Google 'em and let them do their magic.

  3. Professional Data Recovery Services
    If all else fails, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, you might have to call in the professionals. Yeah, it’ll cost a bit, but if those files are super important, it might be worth it.

Fingers crossed for ya! Hope you get your stuff back without too much hassle.