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How to Recover ANY Lost File on Mac

April 7, 2020
how to recover lost files on mac

You may have accidentally deleted one or more files from your Mac and now you’re about 5 seconds from smashing a bat against your computer. Maybe you thought you would never need the file again or your finger pressed the delete button on its own. We know, it happens!

If you’re used to a more traditional operating system like Windows, it can seem a little more difficult to recover lost files on Mac.

Don’t worry though! The good thing about problems is that they always have a solution, that’s the core of our beliefs here at Recovery Monkey. We think that if you have information about the necessary resources, you will be able to easily recover any file and solve all your computer drama. In fact, it might even be a bit of fun to do so. 

Therefore, we’re going to break down some tools in detail. Hopefully, you won’t have to use the more complicated options, but we’ll help you through those as well!

Basic tips for Recovering Lost Files on Mac

Let’s suppose that we delete a very important file from our computer, which we assume you just might have, no judgment (we’ve all done the same many times).

First, let’s try the easy solutions to recover MAC documents before trying the more difficult ones.

The Mac Time Machine

The MacOS system conveniently includes tools that can help us in this kind of situation. In order to use this tool, we have to find the time machine!!! This is not a Back to the Future Joke, Mac comes with its own time machine creatively called the Time Machine. The functionality of this tool is that it can do a restoration of the computer itself from a specific time. With this feature, we could recover some files and items that we thought were lost.  

Trash Folder

trash folder on mac

Do we want something more basic than that? Let’s not get too complicated and just do a normal operation. You can go to the trash itself. Normally, you can find it in the bottom right of your screen on your dock. If you haven’t completely deleted the files we’re looking for, we can recover them from here. In the case that it’s a recently deleted item, you’re sure to find it there. We will simply select it and drag it with our cursor to the source folder. That’s it, case closed.

Now… let’s suppose that we are wonderfully organized or woefully prepared and we constantly make some backups of all our computers…

Online Cloud Storage

Some online tools that are reputable and well-known are Google Drive, iCloud, and OneDrive. With these programs, we can back up our files safely. This is why you should store your data online. We strongly recommend that you use one of these programs and backup all the data on your computer. If you did this in the past, then maybe you could have sent a backup of the lost file in those backups. You have nothing to lose by digging a little bit into the whole range of tools.

File Recovery Tools

What happens when we haven’t found the answer to our problem? Well, don’t throw your computer out the window just yet! There are still other solutions.

When the basic solutions we have already seen have not brought us any success, there are multiple online programs that you can use to recover your documents. Based on our experience, we recommend using the following programs which are reliable and extremely easy to use. Also, these programs have a FREE version!

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

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If we’re going to talk about user-friendly software one of the ones that takes the crown is the EaseUs Data Recovery Wizard. Don’t feel threatened by its name, its functionality is very user-friendly, fast, and effective. We use this software to avoid complicating our lives and we’ll show you how to use EaseUs Data Recovery Wizard step by step.

easeus data recovery wizard

Step 1: Once we have installed the program and started it, we scan the hard disk where we have our file. What the program will do is to find all the deleted files, even giving us the option to preview the files it finds in the system.

Step 2. Once the program has finished with its analysis we will notice a menu on the left side with all the paths and folders of the files found. This will help us find what we were looking for much faster. 

Step 3. Here we will simply CLICK on the image and select the RECOVER option. 

Note: It is important to mention that when we rescue our file we do not send it to the same folder where it was because we could damage it by rewriting data. This is very important to keep in mind!

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Disk Drill


Disk Drill is an interesting tool because of its functionality and it’s actually quite simple to use. With Disk Drill, we can make a total recovery of the device itself as well as external devices. Below is how you use Disk Drill Recovery.

The first step would be to install the software and if necessary connect the external device via USB if what we lost is in an external disk.

Now here are the steps you must follow once you start the program.

Step 1: We will have to select the path where we want to look for the file in matter.



Step 2: This is where we start the scan. This is the same as with the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. It’s not for nothing that we mention that these tools are easy to use.


Step 3: Finally, we select the files and recover them. That’s it. It’s SO easy!

RecoverIt

RecoverIt is exactly what its name suggests: a file recovery software that works quite well. The process is the same one we’ve seen in the previous two software. You may be wondering how do you use RecoverIt. Well, it is very easy to use and here we will show you how it works.


Step 1: After installing the application and starting it, select the disk where the lost file should be located and start the data analysis. Something interesting is that this software also allows you to analyze the trash so it would be nice to start with there.

Step 2: The second step, once the analysis is complete, is to search for the file within the results, select the file and then select RECOVER. This is surprisingly simple so you won’t have to worry about seemingly lost files so much anymore.

OnTrack Easy Recovery

Let’s look at a fourth tool, of the many we have available. OnTrack Easy Recovery is perhaps synonymous with speed when it comes to file recovery software. This software has the ability to scan your computer’s disks quickly and efficiently. It is used just like any other software, but the results can be much better.

A good thing is that this program guides you through the whole process. However, here are the most important steps.


Step 1: After starting the program we will have to select the device we want to scan.

Step 2: The program will ask us to choose a type of recovery that will be based on the type of need we are experiencing at that time.

Step 3: Once we have all the results on screen we can see that it is the same as the other programs. We can navigate in the results to find the file we want, preview it, and, of course, recover it.

This time we have skipped many steps in the images but it is simply because the same program guides during the process and by its own action we will already know what to do in each step during the exercise.

How do the Tools for Recovering Lost Files Work on Mac?


When a file is deleted from the front-end of the operating system (which is what we normally see), a fragment of code remains. We call this ghost code. This one, can do a reconstruction either of an image, a text document or why not, a video.

Generally, what software does is investigate the code compendium that your hard disk stores and in which our program can look for it.

We can’t even imagine how many lines of code a computer stores and transfers and that’s why it may take a while to defragment and delete any file. That’s why there’s a great possibility of recovering any file.

Why You Should Back-up Your Data

It is clear that accidents happen but you don’t have to lose sleep over a lost file you have been working for weeks on.


We learn from mistakes and situations like these are the ones we have to take advantage of. The biggest take away we want you to take is that it’s crucial for you to back up your files. There are great, cheap portable hard drives and it would be a good practice to make backups as many times as we think convenient, either once a week or once a month. You can also use online cloud services, like Google Drive or OneDrive. We think it’s always better to take precautions when it comes to the world of technology.

This being said, it’s not the end of the world if you lost a file you didn’t back up. There are tons of ways to try to recover your lost files. Let us know if these methods worked for you!