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How to recover data deleted from trash in MacOS


Accidentally deleting files and then emptying the Trash on your Mac can be a stressful experience. However, all hope is not lost. This article provides several methods to recover data deleted from the Trash on MacOS, ranging from built-in features to third-party software.

Understanding Deleted Data in Trash

When you delete files on your Mac, they are moved to the Trash. Emptying the Trash seemingly removes them, but the data is still present on the disk until new data overwrites it.

Check Time Machine Backup

If you have Time Machine enabled, you’re in luck. Time Machine creates backups of your files, allowing you to recover deleted items:

  1. Connect your Time Machine backup drive.
  2. Open the folder where the deleted files were located.
  3. Enter Time Machine using the Time Machine icon in the menu bar.
  4. Navigate to the date before the deletion and locate your files.
  5. Select the files and click “Restore.”

Utilizing Undo in Finder

  1. Open Finder immediately after realizing you deleted files.
  2. Click “Edit” in the menu bar.
  3. Select “Undo Move” or press Command + Z. This method works if you haven’t performed many actions since emptying the Trash.

Terminal Command for Data Recovery

Use Terminal for a manual approach:

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Type cd .Trash and press Enter.
  3. Use ls to list deleted files.
  4. Recover a file using mv filename ../ (replace “filename” with the actual file name).

Data Recovery Software for Mac

Several third-party applications specialize in data recovery:

  1. Disk Drill: User-friendly and effective.
  2. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard: Supports various file types and offers a simple interface.
  3. Stellar Data Recovery Professional: Powerful recovery tool with a straightforward process.

Preventive Measures for Future Data Loss

  1. Regularly back up your data using Time Machine or other backup solutions.
  2. Enable the “Put Back” option in Trash to restore items without navigating to their original location.
  3. Use caution when emptying the Trash, double-checking the contents.


Accidentally deleting important files is a common occurrence, but MacOS provides various methods to recover data from the Trash. Whether through Time Machine, Finder’s undo feature, Terminal commands, or third-party software, you have options to retrieve your lost files.


  1. Can I recover data if Time Machine is not set up?
    • Without Time Machine or other backups, recovery becomes more challenging. Consider using data recovery software as a last resort.
  2. How quickly should I attempt data recovery after deletion?
    • The sooner, the better. Over time, deleted data becomes more susceptible to being overwritten by new data.
  3. Do data recovery applications guarantee 100% success?
    • No, success depends on various factors, including how much new data has been written to the disk since the deletion.
  4. Can I recover files deleted from an external drive connected to my Mac?
    • Yes, the same principles apply to external drives. Time Machine and recovery software can be used to retrieve deleted files.
  5. Is it safe to use third-party data recovery software?
    • Reputable applications like Disk Drill, EaseUS, and Stellar are generally safe. Always download from official sources to avoid potential security risks.


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