How to Quickly Restore Lost Files on a Mac?

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Losing important files on your Mac can put you in trouble. Data loss issues can occur to you anytime and it is important to apply proper methods for data recovery for Mac to get your lost files back. Whether your file is deleted due to accidental deletion, hard drive failure, virus or malware attacks, or any other reason, it is always possible to restore lost files on a Mac.

Luckily, the macOS operating system supports several recovery methods that you can try to quickly restore lost files and minimize your data loss. Here, in this article, we will explore various methods to help you learn how to quickly restore lost files on a Mac device. Keep reading this article until the end to learn everything you must know about Mac deleted file recovery.

Common Causes for Data Loss on Mac

Before you learn any Mac data recovery software or manual methods to restore your lost files on Mac, it is important to find the main cause of the data loss issues. Some probable reasons why files might get deleted on your Mac are:

  • One of the common reasons for file deletion on Mac is user error. You might have deleted the required file while deleting any other file and folder from your device.
  • When you delete any file on a Mac, it is moved to the Trash folder rather than being permanently deleted. However, when you empty the Trash folder, all its files get permanently deleted.
  • Formatting your Mac drive or partition deletes all its data, including files and folders. It is important to create a backup of your important files before formatting the drive either intentionally or as a part of the system reinstall or disk maintenance process.
  • Malicious software such as virus or malware sometimes corrupt or even delete files stored on your Mac. To avoid such instances, you need to install strong and updated antivirus software in your system.
  • Sometimes, there may be a problem with user accounts or permissions which deletes files on your device or makes them inaccessible. Mainly such issues occur when you try to switch or modify user accounts on Mac.

Where Do Deleted Files Go on Mac?


Deleted files on a Mac go to the Trash or Trash Bin, a temporary holding area. They remain recoverable until the Trash is emptied. To restore a deleted file, you can retrieve it from the Trash. However, when you empty the Trash, your files get permanently deleted from the Mac. It’s important to note that macOS’s in-built Time Machine utility can store backups of deleted files, providing an additional layer of recovery.


Once Time Machine backups are overwritten, it will be quite difficult to retrieve the lost files on your device. Overall, deleted files are initially relocated to the Trash, offering a safety net before permanent removal, ensuring you have a chance to recover them if needed.

Quick Methods to Recover Lost Files on Mac

In this part of the blog, we will provide some best methods to recover your lost or deleted files on Mac. Just go with these Mac data recovery methods one by one to get your deleted files back without paying any cost.

Method 01: Recover Deleted Files from Trash

As mentioned above, every deleted file first goes to the Trash folder where it remains stored temporarily and safely. If your deleted file is present in the Trash of your device, you can follow the below-given steps to restore it:

  • Open the Trash app by clicking the Trash icon and locate your deleted files.
  • Now, select and right-click on the file that you need to recover and then choose the Put Back

  • After that, the selected file will be restored to its original location.

Method 02: Restore Deleted Mac Files Using Time Machine Backup

If the deleted file is not available in the Trash folder, it means your file is permanently deleted from the Mac. In such cases, you can use Mac in-built Time Machine backup to restore the files that are no longer available in the Trash bin. If you have enabled the Time Machine backup solution on the Mac, you can go through the following steps to recover permanently deleted files:

  • Firstly, launch Time Machine on your Mac. For this, click Time Machine from the macOS menu bar and then select Enter Time Machine.
  • Click the onscreen Up and Down arrow to locate the desired backup of your file that was created before deletion.
  • At last, click the Restore button to save the selected file back to its original location.

Method 03: Restore Lost Files on Mac Using Data Recovery Tool

Instances may occur when both the above methods of data recovery for Mac fail to restore your lost files. Don’t worry, you can use a professional Mac data recovery software to recover permanently deleted files on Mac. Among several such recovery tools, the Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac tool is the best option to restore your lost files. The software offers several amazing features which make it best for your file recovery without too much of a hassle.  Its features include:

  • The software supports the recovery of files deleted from emptied recycle bin, encrypted devices, crashed computers, etc.
  • It can recover files of several types, including photos, videos, documents, audio, and many more.
  • The intuitive and smooth interface of the software makes it very easy to use for both beginners and tech-savvy users.
  • It allows you to preview the recoverable files before saving them on your device.
  • This Mac data recovery software is 100% safe and secure to use with no viruses, malware, pop-ups and other drawbacks.

So, here are the detailed steps to learn how to quickly restore lost files on a Mac using the Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac tool:

  • Download and install the Stellar Data Recovery Professional software on your Mac. Once you install the app, launch it from the homepage and select the type of file you need to recover, then click ‘Next’.

  • Now, from the list of storage locations, select the storage drive where your deleted file was earlier stored and tap the Scan

  • As the scanning process is completed, preview the recoverable files and select the desired files that you need to restore. Click on the ‘Recover’ button and select the location where you need to restore the recovered files.

After completion of the above steps, your selected files will be saved back on your Mac device at the desired storage location.

Tips to Avoid Data Loss Issues on Mac

Though the aforementioned methods to recover deleted data on Mac are quite simple and easy to implement, but it is important to avoid such data loss issues on your device. Here are some preventive measures that you can

  • Double-check whenever you are deleting any file or folder from your Mac to avoid accidental deletion of important files.
  • Create local backups in Time Machine or cloud storage locations, such as iTunes or iCloud to prevent data loss issues on your device.
  • Regularly scan your device and install software programs for viruses and malware.
  • Update your MacOS with the latest drivers and software programs.


Whenever you encounter issues like the deletion of files on your Mac, don’t freak out; just apply the aforementioned Mac data recovery methods to learn how to quickly restore lost files on a Mac. Start by checking the Trash, utilizing Time Machine backups, or using data recovery software, such as Stellar Data Recovery Professional for Mac to restore your lost files. Also, make a habit of creating regular backups of your important files to prevent future data loss issues on your device.

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Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.

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