Recover Deleted Files from Mac for Free

How to recover deleted files on Mac

Do you regret trashing that favourite movie, photo album or email out of your Mac? Oh well – that’s a whim we all play out, a tad too often.

But then technology gives us a chance to fix it up often with surprisingly easy tricks and tools that can get back that goldmine of deleted data from Mac. 

This blog shares a few of them to help you free recover deleted data on Mac.

Free Recover Deleted Files from Trash

Trash is the place where your deleted files are stored temporarily though safely.  Trash folder can hold the deleted files as long as you don’t empty the trash or remove the files via the delete immediately feature.

Your chances of recovering deleted files from Mac would be null if you chose to Empty the Trash without restoring your files to the original location.

Follow the below steps to recover deleted files for free from the Trash:

  1. Go to the Trash-bin and locate your files for data recovery. Find your files via Name, Date Modified, Size and Kind.
  2. You can also use the Search Box to enter the filename, file extension so the Trash immediately reveals your files from the pool.recover deleted files from Mac free
  3. Once you have identified the files for recovery, select them, press right-click and choose “Put Back” for immediate file recovery.recover deleted files for mac

Recovering temporarily deleted Mac files from Trash is easy & free, but it requires due action after deleting a file.

Recover Permanently Deleted Files for Free by Using Time Machine

This method is based on using Time Machine – the macOS free backup utility – and is particularly helpful in case the files are deleted by emptying the Trash.

How does the Time Machine application work?

It takes the incremental backup of files—hourly for the past twenty-four hours, daily for the past month, and weekly for everything older than a month. When the backup drive is full, Time Machine removes the oldest weekly backup.

When you empty your Trash, macOS deletes Trash records permanently. If you have set up an external hard drive as a Time Machine backup drive, then you can use it to recover permanently deleted files. Steps are as follows:

  1. From macOS menu bar, click Time Machine > Enter Time Machine
  2. Click the up arrow to navigate to the time before the deletion of files
  3. Locate the files from the backup Finder window
  4. Click spacebar to preview a file, select the deleted files, and click Restorerecover deleted files in mac
  5. Open your current Finder to view the restored files

Recover Deleted Photos from the Photos App for Free

Photos is a native photo manager app included in macOS, which help you edit and manage pictures/images. When you delete a photo from the Photos apps, the application removes it instantly but keeps its record in the Recently Deleted section of Albums. The application automatically removes the deleted photos after 30 days.

In case you have accidentally deleted photos from the Photos app, then follow these steps to restore them:

  1. Open Photos, select Albums from the left pane, and double click Recently Deleted.
  2. Select the deleted photos and click Recover from the top right corner.

recover deleted photos in mac

There you go; you have recovered your deleted photos for free.

Note: After 30 days of grace period for recovery, you cannot restore the deleted photos from the Photos app. But you can use Time Machine backup to restore your lost photos.

Free Recover Deleted Emails from the Mail App

Mail app is the native email client in macOS. When you delete your email from the Mail app, the application removes it straightaway and stores it in the Trash. The application automatically removes the deleted emails after a specific time.

If you’ve deleted an email, you can recover it with these steps:

  1. Open your Mail app and click Trash from the left pane.
  2. From the list of deleted emails, select the one you require and drag it to your Inbox.

That is it; you have restored your deleted emails absolutely free.

In case your deleted email is not in the Trash, then the Mail app may have automatically removed it from there after the elapsed time. Or, you may have deleted the email from the Trash. In both cases, Time Machine is the only way to get your lost email back.

Free Recover Deleted Multimedia Files from iTunes

When you delete a multimedia file from iTunes, the application prompts you to either move it to the Trash or keep it in the iTunes Media. If you opt the former, iTunes removes the file from its database but keeps its record in Trash, and for the latter moves the file to the iTunes Media.

iTunes recovery

  1. To recover a deleted multimedia file, you can look in the iTunes Media or Trash.
  2. Once you find your deleted file, you can drag it to the iTunes icon present in Dock to re-import it into your iTunes.recover deleted iTunes files
  3. In case the file is not present in either the iTunes Media or Trash, you either re-download it from the iTunes Store or restore it from Time Machine.

Recover Deleted Files from the Notes App (This is Free too)

Like in Photos, when you delete a note, the application removes it and keeps a record in Recently Deleted for 30 days.

To recover a deleted note, perform the following steps.

  1. Open the Notes app and click on the Recently Deleted section present on the left pane.
  2. From the list of recently deleted notes in the middle pane, secondary click on the required note and opt for Move to > On My Mac > Notes.

recover deleted Notes

The note is now present on your Notes section.

In case you have deleted the note from the Recently Deleted section or the recovery grace time is over, you must restore your lost note by using Time Machine as usual.

How to Recover Deleted Files from Mac without Time Machine Backup? (When Free Recovery Doesn’t Work)

In the above sections, Time Machine is repeatedly advocated as the last resort to recover data on Mac. Truth is – Time Machine can fail to recover deleted Mac files if it’s corrupt/damaged or was never made.

So, in all practical situations, Mac data recovery software is an absolute necessity for recovering deleted documents, photos, videos, iTunes, emails. It‘s the LAST RESORT to save your precious data.

Utilities like the Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac find relevance in critical data loss situations, namely no Time Machine backup, emptied Trash, erased/formatted storage drive, corrupt drive’s file system, data flushed out due to the passage of retention period, and more.

How To Recover Your Deleted Mac Files in 3 Steps?

Step 1: Open Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac

Recover permanently deleted Mac files

[If you don’t have it yet then download it from the below for a free trial. Install the software in Applications folder]

Step 2: Scan a storage drive from which you would like to recover deleted files.

recover deleted files mac trash

Step 3: Preview your files and recover them conveniently

Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac

Video on How to Recover Deleted Mac files?

Watch the next video to know exactly how to recover deleted files on macOS with Stellar Data Recovery Professional.

5 Key Benefits of Using Stellar:

  1. Do-it-yourself software with graphical user interface (GUI)
  2. Supports macOS Mojave; up to OS X Lion
  3. Support for APFS, HFS+, HFS, NTFS, FAT, ex-FAT
  4. Supports HDD, SSD, USB flash drives, SD cards, Time Machine, Fusion drive
  5. Recovers documents, emails, photos, videos, and more
  6. Recovers any file format with help of user-submitted file formats

Related Information

  1. How to Activate Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac Online
  2. Top 10 Mac Data Recovery 2019


Whenever you are using Photos, Mail, iTunes, Notes, or other specialized apps in Mac, look for the native data recovery options viz. Trash, Time Machine, and Recently Deleted to recover the deleted items. But, these apps hold the deleted data only for a limited time, so restore them soon after deletion.

On the other hand, if you are on Finder or Desktop, you can look for the deleted items in the Trash straightaway. If the Trash does not have those files, open Time Machine and search for the files from the latest time before deletion and click Restore.

If these data recovery options don’t help, use a data recovery Mac tool which would make the best choice for your immediate situation as well as any long-term needs. You can download the Mac data recovery software, unzip, and install it on your MacBook, iMac, or Mac Pro/mini. Launch the DIY tool to select, scan and preview the recoverable files. And, once you are satisfied with previewing the recoverable items, activate the software to save all the recovered data.

  1. Francis Gonzalez March 20, 2019
    • Vishal March 25, 2019

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