How to recover deleted files on Mac without software?

By Katrina | Posted to Mac Data Recovery, updated on July 30th, 2019 |

Summary: Deleted some necessary files by mistake? Looking for some go-to methods which may bring back your deleted data after emptied Trash? This page serves the purpose as it highlights some methods to recover deleted files from Mac without using the software. If these methods are not helpful, you can count on the free deleted file recovery software - iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

File deletion is a common and necessary computer operation as it is a convenient way to help you get more free space for new data.

However, when you intentionally or unintentionally end up deleting a folder that you didn't mean to delete is not less than a nightmare.

Even worse, you have a due date approaching to submit your project that you have been working from past few days.

Don't despair. Mac handles all the data including your personal and official documents which always very much important.

Normally, if you had done such a mistake, you have many options to recover deleted files on Mac without software.

Are you ready? Here we go, guys!

Recover deleted files without software

Table of contents
1. Can you recover permanently deleted files on Mac?
2. How can I recover permanently deleted files from Mac without software?
3. How to recover deleted photos on Mac?
4. How to recover unsaved/deleted Word documents on Mac?
5. How to recover deleted email messages on Mac from Apple Mail?
6. How to recover deleted iTunes songs on Mac?
7. How to recover deleted contacts on Mac?
8. How to recover deleted Downloads folder on Mac?
9. How to recover deleted YouTube videos on Mac?
10. How to recover deleted Notes on Mac?
11. Use free deleted data recovery software
12. Verdict

Help! Deleted all my photos and videos accidentally

Accidental data loss is an unavoidable fact of life for most computer users. Let's start with a real-life case as below:

I'm an amateur photographer and I took thousands of pictures and videos for my friend's wedding ceremony yesterday. Usually, after I take a series of pictures, I will transfer all of them from my Cannon DSLR camera to my MacBook Pro and then delete all files on the camera.

My dumbass thought that I have copied all the pictures and videos to my computer (turns out that I didn't). So, I deleted all files on my SD memory card.

But then I realized that some were saved internal and some on the SD card. About 140 pictures and 13 videos did not transfer and just say 0mb. Is it possible to recover deleted files on Mac? How can I recover permanently deleted files from Mac without software?

Help! Deleted all my photos and videos accidentally

Please don't blame yourself too much. We're going to show you where the deleted files go exactly and teach how to recover them step-by-step.

Can you recover permanently deleted files on Mac?

Of course, you can.

What deletion means for most people, including you maybe, is the deleted files will vanish in the air. However, it is not a true case for deleting files in reality.

As a matter of fact, when you click on the Delete button, the system just simply marks these spaces of a disk as free and available for saving new files.

A more vivid illustration is, the disk is like a book, and deletion is the same as erasing a chapter in the contents table of this book, but the real words of this chapter are still here.

As a result of erasing the table of contents, you can't locate where is this part of this book. Similarly, the Mac operating system is not able to locate where your deleted files are, but actually, your files are still there.

Therefore, it is possible to recover your deleted files on Mac before you save anything new to the "free" space and overwrite the original data. Therefore, you should stop working on your Mac as soon as you realize that you've deleted files.

How can I recover permanently deleted files from Mac without software?

As Apple is always doing to bring good experience for Mac users, there are some methods you can practice recovering your deleted files without using any software. Check out the details as below.

Method 1:Restore deleted files from Trash

Files that you've deleted are often sent to the Trash. The Trash will hold your deleted files until you empty the Trash. So, if the last thing you did to your files on Mac was to click on "Move to Trash", you can recover the deleted files by operating "Undo Move". You can perform deleted file recovery without using any software but selecting Edit > Undo Move (Command-Z) in Finder. Then your deleted files will return to their previous positions.

undo deleted

Another choice is to open your Trash and find the files you deleted recently, then right-click on them and choose Put Back.

put deleted files back

Method 2:Recover deleted files from Time Machine backups

Time Machine is especially useful for Mac users to back up our files. If you have backed up those deleted files with Time Machine, you can restore our deleted file from Time Machine Backups, no extra software needed.

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 the screen up/down arrows or using the timeline at the edge of the screen. If you want to find files of the 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.

Restore permanently deleted files from Time Machine backups

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

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

Method 3:Recover deleted files via Terminal

Terminal, also known as Command prompt, is a built-in application for experienced Mac users to perform various tasks like drive erasure, files undeleting, disk partition, etc. through the command line. Therefore, if you are confident in your computer technology, you can recover the deleted files via Terminal from (not emptied) Trash.

Step 1: Go to Utilities > Terminal.

Step 2: Type in cd .Trash and press Enter.

Step 3: Type in mv *** ../ (You need to replace *** with the name of your deleted file, for example, family photo.jpg) and then press Enter.

Recover deleted files via Terminal

Step 4: Open Finder and search the name of your file, and you will see your deleted file is recovered.

Method 4:Recover deleted files from iCloud Drive

iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing service from Apple Inc., which securely stores your photos, videos, documents, music, apps, and more and keeps them updated across all your devices. iCloud offers a way to restore deleted files, whether you deleted them on, your iOS device, or your Mac.

Note: You can restore files you deleted from iCloud Drive in the last 30 days. After that point, files are gone for good. Moreover, you can't recover files you permanently removed.

Step 1: Open a browser, such as Safari, and connect to the iCloud website. You will need to log in with your Apple ID.

Step 2: Once logged into, click the Settings button.

Step 3: Scroll to the bottom of the screen, below the "Advanced" section, and then click "Restore Files." You will see a list of deleted files with their previous location in iCloud Drive, size, and the time remaining until they expire.

Recover deleted files from iCloud Drive

Step 4: To restore a deleted file, click the tick box beside it and then click "Restore". After the deleted file has been successfully restored, iCloud will display a message confirming it.

How to recover deleted photos on Mac?

So, you've deleted a precious photo or an entire folder of photos from your MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac Mini, and more. "Can I get permanently deleted photos back?" You may ask. Actually, there are a few ways you can try to recover deleted photos on Mac.

1. How to recover deleted photos from Photo app

If you deleted a photo from the Photo app on Mac, you have a 30-day grace, during which you can restore deleted photos easily.

Step 1: Open Photos and click "Recently Deleted" on the left-hand sidebar.

Step 2: Select the photos you'd like to recover.

Step 3: Click "Recover" in the top right corner.

Recover deleted photos from Photo app

2. How to recover deleted photos from iPhoto?

Perhaps, you are still using iPhoto, which Apple replaced with Photos in 2015. And you've deleted photos from that program, then you can recover these lost/missing picture in iPhoto:

Step 1: Open iPhoto and click on Trash in the Sidebar.

Step 2: Select those deleted photos and right-click to choose "Restore to iPhoto Library".

How to recover unsaved/deleted Word files on Mac?

Like any other text application, Word files can be lost or accidentally deleted from Mac. Losing files after Word crashed? Word files just disappeared? Whichever situation you've encountered, you can recover unsaved/deleted Word files by following steps:

Method 1:Recover unsaved Word Docs on a Mac with AutoRecovery

Microsoft Word for Mac includes an AutoRecovery option that can help you recover unsaved Word files. It is automatically turned on by default and save your opened Word files every 10 minutes. This is especially useful if your computer freezes while you are working on a document, or if your computer crashes.

Go to Finder, then click "Go", and then Go to Folder and then type in the following: ~/Library/Containers/ There is a good chance that your lost document may be here.

Recover unsaved Word files from autosaved files

Method 2:Recover unsaved word documents from TMP folder

In many cases, Word may save Word documents as a temp file somewhere on your Mac computer. It's important to check there first to see if that is where your lost documents have ended up.

Step 1: Go to Applications > Utilities > Terminal.

Step 2: Once in Terminal, enter the following command and then press enter.

open $TMPDIR

Step 3: Once you have opened your TMP folder, you need to open the folder named: "TemporartItems".

Recover unsaved Word files from temporary files

Step 4: Find the unsaved Word files you need and save it.

How to recover deleted emails message Mac from Apple Mail?

Apple mail is a built-in utility which can be used to access email accounts from various other free email service providers including Apple's iCloud, Outlook, Google, Yahoo, AOL, etc. But deleted emails are a common accident. Luckily, Apple Mail has a Trash folder that you can recover recently deleted emails.

Step 1: Open Apple Mail and click "View" from the menu bar and choose "Show Deleted Messages".

Recover deleted emails message Mac from Apple Mail

Step 2: Click on the "Trash" button in the sidebar and then you will see the list of all your deleted emails.

open $TMPDIR

Step 3: Right-click the email you want to recover, then choose "Undelete" to restore your deleted email to your inbox.

How to recover deleted iTunes songs on Mac?

Music files are largely managed on Mac computers using iTunes. It can be devastating when you wanted to delete several items in iTunes but ended up with deleting the entire library. Now all your music songs are gone…what a bummer. If this happens to you, you are able to recover those deleted iTunes library files with the following steps:

Step 1: Get to the desktop of your Mac and click on the Go menu at the top and select the option that says Go to Folder. Alternatively, press the Command + Shift + G key combo to open it.

Step 2: When the Go to Folder box opens, type in the following path and hit Enter. Make sure to replace username with your own username.

/Users/username/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media/Music/

Note: For earlier OS versions, look for Home > Music > iTunes Media > Music.

Step 3: When the path opens, you will see your entire iTunes music library. You will find your deleted music file here in this folder.

How to recover deleted contacts on Mac?

If you've deleted contacts from the default Contact app in macOS, then you can tap on Edit > Undo Delete Card. But this operation can be done before making any other edits in Contacts.

Recover deleted contacts on Mac

How to recover deleted Downloads folder on Mac?

Download folder, as we all know is a default location in every macOS operating system where all files that are download from the internet are saved. However, when you clean up files and folders, you may accidentally delete the Download folder and delete all the files it downloads. In this case, you need to know how to recover a deleted Downloads folder on Mac.

First of all, you can check the Mac Trash. Secondly, if you have already emptied the Trash and can't find the deleted Download folder, then you can check Time Machine backups if you created one. Finally, if the first two methods don't help you, then you can only choose a software recovery solution.

How to recover deleted YouTube videos on Mac?

Imagine a situation where a very crucial video is mistakenly deleted by you during video editing, sharing or uploading from your Mac, Google Account or channels. Keep calm! Let's have a look at some methods for video data recovery.

Method 1:Recover deleted YouTube videos from the Help support

Don't hesitate to send an email to the support team to restore lost or deleted YouTube videos from your channel. They can help you get all deleted YouTube videos back.

Method 2:Recover YouTube Videos from is a service designed to store the majority of pages and group them by dates and updates. Therefore, this is where you should go in the next place if you've unintentionally deleted an uploaded video.

Step 1: Access your YouTube email account and find the relevant information about your deleted or lost videos.

Step 2: Copy the deleted or lost video's URL.

Step 3: Open a browser, go to

Step 4: Paste the URL of the deleted YouTube video on the search field and click on Browse History.

Step 5: The page redirects you to YouTube video upload history where you can find the video files you previously uploaded.

Step 6: Download the video file and upload it again (of course back it up too).

How to recover deleted/disappeared Notes on Mac?

The Notes may disappear or get deleted on your Mac due to macOS upgrade or mistaken deletion. It won't go to the Trash. So, where you can find deleted/disappeared Notes on Mac? Let's have a look:

Note: Files will only be kept for 30 days at the Recently Deleted Folder before being permanently deleted.

Step 1: Open the Notes application and click the "Recently Deleted Folder" on the left menu panel.

Recover deleted Notes on Mac

Step 2: Choose Edit from the menu bard at the top of the screen and click on "Undo Trash Note".

If you can't find the deleted Notes from the Recently Deleted Folder, then you can check if they are in Time Machine backup.

Use free deleted file recovery software

However, what if you have emptied Trash or have no backup of the deleted files? Don't worry. In that case, you still can undelete files on Mac with Mac data recovery software, like iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery is free Mac undelete software that helps to recover deleted files from hard drives, external hard drives, USB hard drives, memory cards, and other storage devices, no matter those deleted files are documents, photos, videos, emails, music, etc. And it can also recover lost files from unreadable external hard drives, unmountable hard drives, formatted hard drives, lost partitions, invalid volume header hard drives, etc.

Best Mac Deleted File Recovery Software - iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

  • Recover deleted photos, documents, audio files, videos, emails, etc.
  • Recover data from unmountable/unreadable/corrupted/failed Mac hard drives.
  • Recover data from unbootable/crashed Mac computers.
  • macOS Catalina supported.

Read-only & risk-free

You can first watch this video to learn how to recover deleted files with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery:

Step-by-step tutorial to recover deleted files on Mac with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery

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

Step 2: Launch iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

Step 3: Choose the drive or partition which you have deleted files from, then click on "Next" button to search for deleted files.

Recover deleted files on Mac without software

Step 4: Preview the files in the searching results and choose files that you want to get back.

Preview deleted files on Mac

Step 5: Click "Recover" to recover those deleted files from Mac.


If you have deleted files mistakenly on Mac, you can try to recover deleted files without software as soon as possible.

If unfortunately, you have emptied Trash and didn't find these deleted files, you'd better stop doing any further operation to this disk, including saving new files to this drive or formatting. Any improper operation will overwrite your deleted files and bury them deeper.

Instead, you can recover these deleted files from emptied Mac Trash with iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery, which is easy-to-use and reliable, before you lose the chance of getting them back.


Katrina is a data recovery expert @iBoysoft who loves to help readers solve various data recovery problems.

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