How to Recover Deleted Photos on Mac

Recover Deleted Photos on Mac

Lost files or deleted files are something that all of us have come across multiple times. While using our laptops and computers, deleting documents and media when we did not intend to is a common occurrence especially given the fast-paced work world we live in.

However, unlike earlier, this is not as huge an issue as it was previously as files can easily be recovered due to the huge growth technology has seen.

While photo deletion can occur for multiple reasons, which we will go on to explain further in the article, they are stored on your hard drive and hence you can get them back easily before some other data overwrites it.

Mac devices come with the most advanced applications for various functions, including software recovery.

If you are one of the many who seem to have somehow lost your saved photographs, then this article on recover deleted photos on Mac will guide you through the recovery process.

Reasons Responsible for Photo Loss on Mac

Before one attempts to solve any problem, figuring out how it began is important, more so, so that one can prevent it from happening time and again. To eliminate the stress that comes along with the loss of data, it is good to know why it happens.

Here are a few reasons why photo loss occurs. Any one of these might be the root of the problem you are facing as well.

1. Formatting of the Hard Drive

System updates are part and parcel of having a device or using the software. However, sometimes these routine installations and updates can go wrong. This incorrect formatting then leads to data loss and hence can be the cause of your photo loss.

2. Damage of the Device itself

The way we handle our devices holds a lot of importance in the longevity and efficiency of the device. Though devices, especially one built by Mcc go under multiple testing and checks, to ensure that they can withstand bumps and accidents, they are still capable of being damaged if dropped or if they get wet.

This is true, especially for tiny, delicate pieces that are part of the machine. If your device has been dropped or damaged in any other form, that might also be the cause of your data loss.

3. Corruption or Virus Infection

All software is susceptible to virus infection and other malware problems. Though this can occur through multiple ways, such as downloads or other hard drives that might have been inserted, one of the problems that can occur due to virus infection is the deletion and corruption of files, and hence can be the reason why your photographs have been deleted.

4. Deletion because of editing

Editing photography can be a risky process, more often than not, the edited copy replaces the original, instead of having a separate edited copy. Moreover, a single malfunction or error in the application can deem all the files in it unopenable. Hence if you use a lot of editing software, missing originals is a problem that can plague you often if you are not safe.

5. Accidentally deleting

Though it sounds absurd, this is the most common cause of file deletion and has affected all of us at least once. In a hurry to get things done we forget to double-check the files when we try to clear out space in our devices and may accidentally delete files that are important to us.

These are some of the reasons why your photos may have been deleted from your Mac. Though it can seem nerve-wracking initially, read ahead to figure out a solution that suits your needs.

5 Ways to Perform Photo Recovery on Mac

While there might be various reasons why your file is missing, recovering it is a simple process. In this article, we will discuss five simple methods you can try at home to restore photographs if they have been deleted on your Mac.

Method 1: Photos App

If you use a Mac you are probably well-versed with the Photo App that comes built-in to your Macbook. This application, essentially, helps you organize your photographs and store them efficiently, wherein you can order and name photographs according to your preference.

If you delete images on your Macbook, it is usually found in the ‘recently deleted’ album of the Photo App. Please note that this album keeps the deleted file only for thirty days and if it has been more than that, it will be removed or deleted from there as well. If you have deleted your file more than thirty days ago, read on to the next method.

If you want to access the photograph that has been saved in the ‘recently’ deleted album’, simply follow the steps given below.

  1. On your Mac, open up the Photo application.
  2. In the left corner of the application window, you will see a list of albums. Click on the album titled ‘Recently Deleted’.
  3. In doing so you will see all the photos that have been deleted from your Mac within the past thirty days, in thumbnail form. Scroll till you find the image you want.
  4. Once you find the image you want to restore, click on it. When it is selected you will see two options on the top right-hand corner of the window. One to delete permanently and the other to restore.
  5. Click on Restore, in doing so, the photograph will go back to its original album (this is the location where the photograph was before it got deleted)

recover deleted photos on Mac

Please note: That if you are working on MAC OS X 10.9 Mavericks or an older version, you will have to use a slightly different method.

These systems have iPhoto instead of the Photos app. To restore photographs in this case open iPhoto.

  1. On the left-hand side of the window, there will be an option labeled Trash. Click on it.
  2. In doing so you will see all the photos that have been deleted from your Mac.
  3. Similar to the previous method, select the images you want to restore and instead of the ‘Restore’ option, there will be a ‘Put Back’ option, click on that.

Method 2: Search The Trash

Apart from the Recently Deleted segment, there is another more commonly known area where all the deleted files go to, the Mac Trash.

  1. Navigate to the Trash file using the icon visible on your dock.
  2. In opening the Trash file you will see all the files you have recently deleted.
  3. Click on the file you wish to restore.
  4. You have two options – you can either right-click on the image, which will cause a list of possible functions to pop up, and then select the ‘Put Back’ option from that list or you can use your cursor to drag the photo to the desired file location.

recover deleted photos on Mac

Alternatively, if you know the name of the specific photograph you are looking for, you do not need this long-drawn process and restore photographs using terminal commands. To restore a photograph using terminal commands enter the following.

  1. cd.Trash (this will cause you to enter the trash folder)
  2. mv name of file ../ (Instead of ‘name of file’ simply put the name of the photograph you want to restore, this action will move the file you desire to its home folder)

Method 3: Restore from iCloud

iCloud is Apple’s cloud storage and backup service, which acts as a commonplace to store files and allows you to access them from multiple devices. If you delete a file from your device, it is likely you can find it on your iCloud, but if you delete a photo from the iCloud itself, you cannot access it from any other device.

Similar to the first method, any file or photograph deleted, is stored in the “Recently Deleted Folder’, however instead of the thirty-day period of storage on the Photos App, a deleted file will stay for forty days on iCloud.

To restore an app from iCloud follow the instructions mentioned below

  1. Go to a web browser of your choice, and type in the URL
  2. Using your username and password sign in to your iCloud. recover deleted photos on Mac
  1. In your iCloud, you will see icons for various applications, navigate to the ‘Photos’ icon.
  2. When the ‘Photos App’ window opens, there will be a library and albums folder located on the left sidebar. In the list of available albums, there will be one labeled ‘Recently Deleted’, click on it.
  3. In doing so you will see thumbnails of all the photographs that have been deleted from your iCloud within the past forty days. Scroll till you find the image you want.
  4. Once you find the image you want to restore, click on it. When it is selected you will see two options on the top right-hand corner of the window. One to delete permanently and the other to recover.
  5. Click on the recover button, and the photographs that have been deleted will be restored.

recover deleted photos on Mac

Method 4: Local Backup

Backing up files is an essential process that helps keep your files saved. The Mac comes with its own tool for backup called Time Machine. If you have used the Time Machine before to backup your photographs, restoring them is pretty simple.

If you do not remember using the tool, use this method to simply check as you might have activated the tool without realizing it.

To restore photographs using the Time Machine tool, simply follow the instructions given below.

  1. Open the folder where the photograph you want to restore was previously stored. You can do this by using Finder.
  2. You can find the Time machine icon on the Menu bar of your Mac. Click on the icon to open it. recover deleted photos on Mac
  1. When you open the Time Machine icon you will see a list of options appear, click on the one that is labeled ‘Enter Time Machine.’ recover deleted photos on Mac
  1. When you Enter Time Machine you will see snapshots at various instances of that folder along with two arrow keys to its right. Use the arrow keys to scroll through the snapshots, until you see one that has the photograph you want to recover.
  2. Click on the photographs that you want to restore. Once they are selected, click on the restore that is available at the bottom of the screen.

Once you click on the restore button, you can recover the deleted photos on Mac.

Method 5: Photo Recovery Software

Apart from in-built tools, there are various software applications you can use to recover deleted photos on Mac. In this article, we will walk you through using one such software to help you restore your photographs.

Recoverit is attested data recovery software that has been used and recommended by users to help recover deleted or missing data from your device. You can use Recoverit to recover, and restore the deleted, hidden, lost, or corrupted files. Moreover, you can also use it to repair videos.

Compatible with macOS 10.10 – Mac 11 (Big Sur), Recoverit is an extensive recovery and restoration application that is compatible with a large number of formats in graphics, videos, documents, and even archive files. In graphic files, the app is compatible with CRW, JPEG, PNG, JPG, RAW, and many more.

Recoverit supports a variety of storage devices as well, including but not limited to USB, memory car, camera, and SD card.

Follow the steps below to recover deleted photographs on your Mac.

  1. Download the Recoverit software and install it onto your Mac.
  2. Launch the program. In the Recoverit window, you will see a list of the various locations of your device, choose the location where you had stored the images prior to them being deleted. recoverit
  1. Once you have selected the location, click on the Start button located at the bottom of the window.recoverit
  1. When you click on start, the Recoverit software will start scanning the device immediately for the deleted and lost files. The scan will take time and the wait time on the scan will be dependent on the size of the location you are scanning.
  2. Once the scan is finished, you will see a preview window, with all the recovered photos. in the preview window, you can scroll through the images and select the one you want to recover.

preview photo in recoverit

Through this, you can use Recoverit software to recover deleted photos from Mac. You can try the Recoverit software using its free version for a trial period. Once the trial period gets over, there are various plans you can choose from and you can even make a plan according to your convenience.


Files that have been deleted or gone missing are a common problem that can cause a lot of worries, however, in this article, we have listed five different methods to recover deleted photos on Mac you can try to recover deleted photos on your Mac.

You can use the ‘recently deleted album’ on both Photos App and iCloud to restore images, or the trash icon, and the local backup tool TimeMAchine.

Apart from these in-built options, we also discussed a method using the Recoverit software. We also discussed the reasons for deletion or corruption of files, that might help you prevent further loss of files.

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