Mac photo recovery: How to recover lost/deleted pictures on Mac?

Accidentally deleted photos on Mac? Lost digital images because SD memory cards are formatted/corrupted? Recover deleted or lost photos on Mac with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery now.

By Vivian | Posted to Mac Data Recovery on March 12th, 2019 |

Photos, as the witness to people's happiness, merriness and many other precious moments, play an important role in daily life. However, those precious photos could get lost or deleted in daily life, just as the user below.

Yesterday I updated my MacBook Pro to macOS Mojave. After installing the OS, I opened my MacBook but realized that almost all my photos had disappeared (years of photos) from the Photos App. I could restore a few photos from my recently deleted album, but those are only one out of ten thousand of my memories/photos that I had. Is there any way to recover the lost/deleted photos from my Mac? Any recommendation for Mac photo recovery software?

You could mistakenly delete pictures from SD cards, USB flash drives, or emptied deleted photos from the Trash when viewing and editing pictures on Mac. And photos could disappear even after a macOS update. You must be eager to know, is there any way to recover the deleted/missing photos from Mac? Is Mac photo recovery possible in reality?

Actually, you can recover photos deleted from Mac with no fuss. How? This page will go into detail about how to restore deleted digital images on Mac computers.

Let's take a look.

Table of contents
1. How to recover deleted photos from Photos on Mac?
2. How to recover deleted/lost photos from iCloud?
3. How to recover deleted photos from Trash?
4. How to recover lost photos from a Time Machine backup on Mac?
5. How to recover deleted photos from SD cards on Mac?
6. The best photo recovery software for Mac
7. Free photo recovery software for Mac

What you should know before Mac photo recovery?

There are different phenomena that people lose photos on Mac computers. For instance, you may mistakenly delete digital images when cleaning up a disk or a volume, or you have emptied the Trash after deleteing some pictures. No matter what the reason is, you should know some important things before you get down to recovering lost pictures from Mac computers.

  1. Recover the deleted photos as soon as possible. If you are still using this drive on Mac after photo loss, your deleted photos could be overwritten and you are at the risk of losing them forever.
  2. If you delete photos or videos from SD memory cards or other drives, do not save any new data to this disk. It will overwrite your lost files and lower the possibility to recover them. So, if you want to recover these files, stop using this storage right away.
  3. If your hard drive/SD card is dead or has been physically damaged, it is impossible to recover deleted/lost photos with any photo recovery software. In this case, you can only send it to data recovery services for help.

Losing or deleting photos can cause great panic, especially when you think it is helpless to restore these deleted files.

But you can calm down now! This post includes 5 possible circumstances where you could delete or lose photos from. Moreover, it also discusses how to recover the deleted images on Mac in these situations.

Read through and recover your files right away!

How to recover deleted photos from Photos on Mac?

Many people like saving photos to Photos on Mac, preventing personal photos from peeping. Photos for Mac makes it easy to manage your digital images. When you delete some important photos from Photos on Mac and want to get them back later, it is relatively easy because you can recover them in the Recently Deleted photos album in a few steps.

Step 1: Open Photos on Mac and find Recently Delete button in the left sidebar of this APP.

Step 2: Find your recently deleted photos here and select the photos you want to call back, and then click on "Recover" at the upper right corner.

Step 3: After you restore these deleted photos, you will see them in Photos or Memories again.

recover deleted photos from iPhoto/Photo on Mac

The deleted photos or videos show the days remaining in Recently Deleted album. Usually, the deleted items will be permanently deleted after 30-day grace period.

Keep in mind that, once you click on "Recover", the deleted photos will return to the date they were originally taken. Also, even though Apple says users have 30 days to recover photos once they've been deleted, it may take up to 40 days for them to be deleted automatically and permanently if you're using iCloud Photos library to share images among your devices and computers.

How to recover deleted/lost photos from iCloud?

However, it happens that you delete some pictures by accident from the Photos album, but can't find the deleted photos in the Recently Deleted album when you want to retrieve them. Can you restore these deleted photos on Mac in this case?

Sure. Now, it's time to check your iCloud which is the digital repository of Mac users. People often back up everything including important photos there so that they can retrieve them in 30 days before they're gone for good.

Step 1: Go to and sign in with your account.

Step 2: Click on Photosin the context menu.

Step 3: Click Recently Deleted library at the left sidebar and check if your deleted photos are here.

Step 4: Select the photos you want to restore and click Recover at the upper right.

How to recover deleted photos from Trash?

If you clicked "Move to Trash" or have dumped photos directly to the Trash, you can also recover the removed files from the Trash on the desktop of your computer with a few simple clicks.

Simply open the Trash, right-click on your photos and choose "Put Back". After this easy operation, you will see your deleted photos in the original location where you deleted them.

recover deleted photos from Trash on Mac

How to recover lost photos from a Time Machine backup on Mac?

The deleted photos aren't in Trash? Hmmm...

It is possible that you have permanently deleted these photos by emptying the Trash. In this cese, you need to try you luck on Time Machine and it may be delightful possibly.

Time Machine is an in-built backup application in Mac which is designed to maintain a regular backup of your data. Usually, it allows you to restore the entire Time Machine backups in macOS or just some personal files and folders. If you have backed up your Mac with Time Machine external hard drive, you can easily recover photos when the last backup was performed.

Step 1: Connect the backup drive to the Mac computer.

Step 2: Open the folder that once contained your deleted files.

Step 3: Click the Time Machine icon in the top left menu bar and select Enter Time Machine.

Tips: Did you know how to show Time Machine icon on the menu bar?

  1. Click Apple icon at the top-right corner.
  2. Select System Preferences… and then click on Time Machine.
  3. Check Show Time Machine in menu bar.

Step 4: Browse the items in the backup folder by using on screen up/down arrows or using the timeline at the edge of the screen. If you want to find files of older version, using timeline to navigate the files is faster. You will be able to see a lot of snapshots of this whole folder and how the folder changes.

Step 5: Select an item and prese Space bar or double-click it to preview it.

Step 6: Select the file you want to restore, and then click Restore.

recover deleted photos from Time Machine on Mac

However, if you didn't setup Time Machine to back up files on Mac, you may want to know how to recover deleted files without Time Machine backups.

How to recover deleted photos from SD cards on Mac?

When it comes to digital images, the SD card is the first thing that comes to mind for most photographers. SD cards are widely used to save images in cameras like Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc. As a result, losing photo from SD cards becomes a common situation. For example, you mistakenly deleted the photo that you're satisfied with from the digital camera.

How to recover the deleted photos from SD cards becomes the meat and potatoes of Mac photo recovery. Usually, you will find the deleted pictures in the Trash and you can recover them from the Trash easily in this case. However, if you can't find the photos deleted from SD cards in the Trash, Photos, or iCloud, these pictures might be permanently deleted.

Besides accidental deletion, important photos are prone to be lost when the SD card is formatted or corrupted for some reasons.

In this situation, you can ask help from deleted photo recovery software to recover deleted/missing/lost photos from SD cards on Mac.

The best photo recovery software for Mac

When you deleted photos on Mac by clicking "Empty Trash" or "Command + Option + Del" keys, or you lost photos or videos from external drives becasue of disk corruption, you can recover your files with one of the best Mac photo recovery software - iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

iBoysoft Mac Data recovery is easy-to-use and powerful photo recovery software, which can recover JPG (or JPEG), PNG, GIF, TIFF, PDF, and many other image formats. This Mac photo recovery software can also recover deleted digital images from SD cards, internal hard drives, external hard drives, USB flash cards, memory cards, CF cards, etc. What's more, it can also recover documents, videos, audio files, emails, etc.

Best Mac Photo Recovery Software - iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

  • Recover files from unmountable/unreadable/corrupted/formatted drives
  • Photo recovery from lost/deleted partitions and from emptied Trash
  • Photo recovery from unbootable Mac computer
  • Supports encrypted APFS, APFS, HFS+, exFAT, FAT32 file systems
  • Support macOS Catalina/Mojave/High Sierra and ealier Mac OS X

Read-only & risk-free

How to recover permanently deleted photos from Mac?

Then, exactly, how to recover missing photos on Mac? Here is a tutorial to recover deleted photos on Mac.

Step 1: Download, install and launch iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery on your Mac computer.

install iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

Step 2: Select the drive where you lost photos and click "Next" to scan for all data on this drive.

scan for deleted photos on with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

Step 3: Double-click to preview the scanning result and choose files you want to get back.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac photo recovery

Step 4: Click "Recover" to retrieve the lost photos and save them to a safe place.

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery can also recover lost data from formatted, corrupted, unreadable, unmountable drives, recovering files from deleted/lost/encrypted partitions. Furthermore, you can also recover lost photos/videos when Mac won't boot after a macOS update with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

Free photo recovery software for Mac

Some people could search for photo recovery freeware online. Photorec, a companion program to TestDisk, is such an open source and definitely best data recovery software out there. This software is widely acknowledged thanks to its powerful picture recovery ability. As its name indicates, it is able to recover digital images of various formats, and recover deleted or lost photos from many storage devices, ranging from digital cameras to hard disks.

Even though you can recover lost photos without spending a penny, you may not want to free download this photo recovery software if you are not so familiar with the command line. Furthermore, it provides no customer support if you encounter operation errors during photo recovery.

PhotoRec photo recovery for Mac


Photos get lost or disappeared for various reasons. In some situations, such as the external hard drive is corrupted, formatted, unreadable, or unmountable, it is possible to recover your photos from external hard drives with professional Mac photo recovery software like iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery. But in some cases, it is difficult or even impossible to retrieve your digital images on Mac. For example, the hard drive is dead or failed, or you had ever dropped this disk or had done other physical damages to it. On this condition, your last hope would be a local data recovery lab.


Vivian likes to share technical tips and solutions with people, especially in macOS and Windows data recovery tricks. Being a part of @iBoysoft, she has solved many computing and technological problems for readers with ease.