Table of Content
    Photo Recovery

    How to Recover Lost Photos After Mac OS Update

    Table of Content

      Summary: The blog describes the methods to recover lost photos when they turn inaccessible and missing after Mac OS X Sierra upgrade. The guidelines to recover and restore lost images in different situations are mentioned when (i) backup is available and (ii) no backup is available. It also describes the plausible causes as well as the tips to avoid photo loss.

      Upgrading Mac OS to the most recent Operating System is quite common as this version has been released with some significant changes. If you have noticed missing pictures after the upgrade, don’t despair, as this is a common occurrence. Users normally encounter this situation where photos seem to be missing after an mac OS update task.

      Since Apple does not provide any built-in utility to recover lost or inaccessible image files, recovery is only possible via employing a third-party photo recovery tool. In this blog, an efficient solution to recover lost photos after a Mac OS update has been discussed to help users perform successful recovery in the absence of built-in utility.

      Before proceeding to the recovery procedure, look at the reasons that cause photo loss. When there is no backup available, data loss is normal if the upgrade process goes wrong. If the upgrade process fails, the volumes on the Mac machine may become inaccessible and lead to photo loss. Excessive disk fragmentation and access permission errors are some of the other reasons responsible for missing images and other data files from the machine.

      Note: Before performing the photo recovery procedure, it is advised not to enter any new data into the machine as the lost data will be overwritten and the chances of recovering image files will reduce.

      If you have a backup –

      You can restore lost images from Time Machine backup if it has been set previously. Follow the steps below:

      • Click on Apple menu, select System Preferences, and then click on the Time Machine icon
      • Click on the checkbox associated with Show Time Machine in the menu bar
      • From the Time Machine menu, select Enter Time Machine, and it will take you to the Time Machine window.
      Time Machine backup
      • From the Time Machine window, select the image file that needs to be restored.
      Recover from Time Machine
      • Once the file is selected, click on Space Bar to preview its contents
      • Then, click on Restore or press Ctrl and click simultaneously to view other options
      • The file will be restored to the original location on Mac storage media

      The recovery of images from Time Machine backup is only possible if it has been set previously by the user. If there is no backup schedule or if no backup is available, it is simply impossible to recover the lost images. In such situations, the deleted or lost files can only be recovered using third-party image recovery software.

      If you do not have a backup –

      Stellar Photo Recovery Mac is an effective tool that helps recover lost photos after a macOS update. It is the only solution available to recover photos, audio, or videos in the absence of a backup. The functional procedure is quite simple and can be completed in a few clicks. Let’s know the steps to recover photos when files appear missing after an upgrade.

      photo recovery mac

      Step #1: Install & Run

      To get started, it is required to download, install, and run Stellar Photo Recovery software. On the home screen of the software – ‘Select What to Recover’. Click Next. Now, select the drive from where deleted files need to be recovered.

      Stellar Photo Recovery Mac

      Step #2: Set Preferences

      After selecting the drive, click on the Advanced Settings button and then select the file format corresponding to the missing files under the Photo File Format heading.  Select Close. Next, click on the Scan button.

      Stellar Photo Recovery- Add File Type

      Step #3: Recover & Restore Missing Image(s)

      After the scan completes, the tool will next display all the images corresponding to selected file formats. Select the file to preview its content in the tool window. After selecting the desired files, click on the Recover button and specify the destination location to store the recovered photos on the hard drive.

      Stellar Photo Recovery Mac- Recovery

      With this, the procedure to recover lost images after upgrading Mac OS is completed successfully. The below tips need to be adhered to while executing the photo recovery procedure:

      • Do not interfere with the computer or laptop when the photo recovery procedure is in process
      • Try to store the recovered data in some location other than the source drive on which the deleted file was stored
      • If you have canceled the scanning process while it is in operation and attempted to exit the tool, the “Save Scan Information? Click Yes if you wish to resume recovery at a later stage.” message will appear. Click on Yes to continue to save the scan report for future reference. The scan information will be saved in the specified location on storage media as a .dmg file (Disk image format)

      Watch this video to know what our reviewer Sleeklens has to say about this tool

      Why is Automated Recovery recommended?

      Professional recovery solutions integrate powerful scan algorithms and security features. Therefore, they are more likely to maintain the integrity and security of the contents being recovered. Recovering deleted images via professional utility provides numerous benefits that are not offered when the recovery is initiated using manual methods.

      • It is possible to recover deleted photos from encrypted storage media with the help of a professional photo recovery tool
      • Multiple or bulk files can be recovered altogether following a simple recovery procedure using the tool
      • It is a comprehensive solution that recovers images, audio clips, videos, and other multimedia files
      • When the tool scans a drive, it generates a scan report as a ‘.dmg.’ file. It saves time and effort as this scan report can be used to recover data from the same file in future
      • As the tool possesses the capability to execute a deep scan, it is possible to recover RAW images as well

      Nothing happens without a cause as they are usually backed by reason. Therefore, when a file is lost or gets deleted from any storage media, there is something that is responsible for it. Similarly, there is a reason behind an image or any other data going missing from the Mac machine after the OS upgrade.

      What Causes Photo Loss after Mac OS Upgrade?

      When images are lost from the Mac machine after an OS upgrade, the following may be the possible reasons:

      • When the upgrade procedure goes wrong, some of the image files may get deleted. If there is no backup available for the images existing on the Mac machine, it is impossible to recover them on the machine
      • After upgrading to OS from a lower version, it is probable that the image file header was affected due to which it became inaccessible or lost from the drive
      • Upgrading to the updated version sometimes overwrites the data or deletes it from the hard drive. This is caused due to excessive disk fragmentation and further leads to corruption

      The Bottom Line

      It is not always important that you lose your photos after every upgrade, but this usually happens, and users simply can’t avoid such situations. Since backup is the solution to all the issues related to data, it is recommended to set a strict backup schedule before executing any similar tasks and operations.

      Setting up an online backup drive is always helpful as it helps to access and restore data back to its original format anytime and anywhere. It is recommended to back up the entire Mac drive before upgrading the macOS. Therefore, it is imperative to back up the Mac storage media on a regular basis to prevent photo loss!

      photo recovery mac

      Read more, How to Recover Photos Lost After Upgrading to macOS Big Sur

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      About The Author

      Sumona Chatterjee linkdin

      Sumona is a tech blogger, avid photographer, & technogeek with vast experience in writing about media file recovery tips and tutorials. She has over 10 years of experience in media file recovery/media file repair technology. She is passionate about Photography, Creative Designing, Music, and Exploring lesser-known destinations.


        1. If you have turned on Time Machine before deleting or losing files, it automatically takes a backup of all your files on Mac. Connect the time machine backup and select the specific date, and from there you will see all the photos, just select the photos which you want to get back and click the Restore button to recover them.

      1. When I upgraded Apple took away iPhoto and replaced with Photo which cannot access any existing picture files. Apple store says I don’t qualify to get it back. This is a mac-mini and I have a Seagate backup.
        I want files I can upload to PC so I can trash the apple I no longer use.

        1. Hi Richard, As we described on our blog you can try our software demo version and see the preview of your lost files. !

      2. I downloaded the stellar phoenix software and hit restart but when I hold down the command key and “R”, my keyboard makes sounds but I do not get any message about going into recovery mode. the timer just keeps counting down the sec to restart. I am not having any luck from the start of trying to use the software

        1. Hello Lisa,

          Thanks for contacting Stellar Data Recovery

          After installing the application on a computer, you can directly launch the application from the Applications folder. After launching the application, please perform the scan to find and preview of the files.

          1. That is exactly what is happening to me and I run it from ‘Applications’ and it just does the same thing, so I’m stuck. My photos are all sitting in the ‘Recently Deleted’ part of ‘Photos’. I would just try and recover from there, but there are @ 7,000 photos showing and I know I only had @ 3,000 in my ‘All Photos’ before and had also spent a lot of time arranging photos into albums etc so I would really like to get them installed back as how they were…please help!

      3. I lost all my photos and files documents everything after I updated to OS High Sierra
        I don’t know what to do, MacBook Pro kept asking for update and I finally did it but never once chose any option to delete anything. The computer doesn’t even look like it is mine anymore! Everything changed and even parental control is coming up when I try to go on any website even google. My photos and files, notes everything is gone! My downloads my bookmarks Please I need help

        1. I recommend you install the free trial version of Stellar Mac Data Recovery Professional without much delay. Please scan your MacBook with the software to preview photos, videos, documents and other recoverable files. Also, note, that to save the recoverable files you will require registering the software.

      4. I lost all my Photos images , on an iMac, when I upgraded to High Sierra. They were backed up on a Seagate Backup Plus drive.
        I downloaded the Stellar Photo recovery software, but in attempting to use it, it twice ‘unexpectedly quit’. I have no idea what to do next.
        Any suggestions?


        1. Hello Michael,

          Thanks for contacting Stellar Data Recovery!

          Please let us know:
          1) Which version of Stellar Photo Recovery (Mac) are you using {7.0 or 8.0}?
          2) Kindly try to uninstall the software and then re-install it again.

          Awaiting your response!

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