Data loss can occur on a Mac for various reasons, but fortunately, there are several methods to recover files. Deleted files may still be accessible in the Trash Bin or through Time Machine backups, which allows browsing previous versions of files.

For more advanced data recovery, tools like Terminal commands or Mac Data Recovery software can scan the drive for deleted content. 

Mac Data Recovery

In this article, we will talk about all the ways to perform Mac Data Recovery.

Methods to Recover Deleted Files on macOS

Using the Trash Bin

Trash Bin provides a simple way to retrieve recently deleted files if they were moved there instead of being permanently removed.

When files are deleted on a Mac, they are not truly erased – instead, they are sent to the Trash Bin where they remain until the trash is emptied. This acts as a safety net in case users accidentally delete a file they still need.

The Trash Bin allows for easy recovery of these recently deleted files using a straightforward process. 

  • First, access the Trash Bin by clicking its icon in the Dock. This will open a window showing any files currently residing there after being deleted. 
  • Take some time to browse through the files and locate any that you need to restore. 
  • Once you’ve found the desired files, select them by clicking on each one while holding the shift key to choose multiple at once. This selection step is important to identify precisely which files will be recovered. 
  • Then, simply right click on any selected file and click the “Put Back” option. Doing so will instantly move all selected items back to their original locations on the hard drive.

It’s important to note that this method of recovery will only work if the Trash Bin has not already been emptied. Newer versions of macOS have preferences that can automatically empty the trash after a set number of days, so deleted files may no longer be present if too much time has passed. 

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Using Time Machine

Time Machine offers a straightforward and robust solution for Mac data recovery by accessing previous system backups, providing an efficient method to retrieve deleted files on a Mac.

As a user-friendly data recovery method, it should be one of the first options explored after accidental deletion.

  • To get started, click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar. 
  • From there, select the “Browse Time Machine Backups” option. This allows viewing the local snapshots saved automatically by Time Machine at preset intervals. 
  • Use the arrows and timeline to navigate through different backup dates and locate the version of files before they were deleted. 
  • Once the correct backup time is found containing the desired files, select the items to restore. This can include individual files, folders, or even an entire disk. 
  • Click the “Restore” button and Time Machine will copy the files back to their original locations on the Mac. 

Using Terminal commands

For user’s comfortable working in the Terminal, it provides another option to retrieve recently deleted files still residing in the Trash.

However, this method requires careful execution of commands and an understanding of basic Terminal usage. 

To get started:

  • Launch the Terminal application which can be found under Applications > Utilities. You can also search for it using Spotlight or navigate via Finder. 
  • Once open, type “cd .Trash” followed by enter to change the directory to the hidden Trash folder. 
  • From there, use the “ls” command to list and view all files currently in the Trash. Take note of the exact name of any files you wish to recover. 
  • Then type “mv filename ../” replacing filename with the actual name. Hit enter to move the file back to its original location. 

If files have been permanently removed or you’re unsure how to use Terminal, alternative options like the Time Machine backup or dedicated recovery software offer simpler solutions. But for power users, the Terminal presents another path worth exploring initially.

Using Data Recovery Software

For situations where built-in methods and Time Machine backups fail to retrieve deleted files, dedicated data recovery software provides the next best option.

Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac is one such powerful tool capable of restoring a wide variety of file types from various storage sources.

  • To begin, Stellar Data Recovery must first be installed on the Mac. 
  • Then, you can select what type of data to recover, choose the target storage location like a hard drive or SSD, and initiate a deep scan. 
  • It’s important to note that Stellar can recover files even after they’ve been permanently removed from the Trash or a storage device has been formatted. This makes it a versatile last resort solution. 
  • To maximize chances of file recovery, the Mac should not be used further after data loss to avoid overwriting deleted information.
  • Once the scan completes, Stellar will display any found files in the tree view. 
  • You can then select and preview individual items or folders to restore. 

Stellar Data Recovery possesses the capability to efficiently recover data from formatted APFS or HFS+ partitions and deleted Mac storage volumes.

The straightforward installation and recovery process offered by Stellar are invaluable in the quest to regain essential documents, photos, videos, and more when all other alternatives have been exhausted.

It is crucial to act swiftly following data deletion. This ensures that Stellar’s powerful data recovery solution can be maximally effective, making it an indispensable asset for your data retrieval needs.

Preventive Measures for Data Loss

  • Regularly back up your data to an external storage device or cloud storage so you have a recent copy to restore from in case of data loss.
  • Use Time Machine, the built-in macOS backup feature, to automatically back up all your files including apps, music, photos, documents, and system files for easy recovery.  
  • Always keep your macOS and all apps updated as many updates come with fixes for known bugs that could cause data loss.
  • Protect your Mac against malware, ransomware, and other threats by using reliable antivirus software which can prevent data loss.
  • Use Disk Utility to regularly check your hard drive for errors that may indicate potential data loss issues.
  • Avoid downloading files from untrusted sources as this increases the risk of malware that can lead to data loss.
  • Always shut down your Mac properly to prevent file system corruption from occurring and resulting in data loss.
  • Handle your Mac with care and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures or humidity to protect it from physical damage that could cause data loss.

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MacOS provides users with both built-in and third-party options for Mac data recovery when dealing with deleted or otherwise lost files. For prompt recovery of recently removed items, the Trash Bin and Time Machine backups offer straightforward solutions.

When more advanced recovery is required, Terminal commands or dedicated software like Stellar Data Recovery can perform deep scans to resurrect data.

With Stellar Data Recovery, users can leverage a reliable and efficient tool to recover their lost files, ensuring a seamless experience in restoring valuable data. 


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