[Guide]How to Recover iCloud Photos on Mac?

By Amanda | Posted to Home > Mac Data Recovery Tips, on Octorber 12th, 2021

Summary:This guide will lead you to recover deleted photos on the Mac where iCloud is enabled for the Photos app. Permanently deleted or not, you can find the solutions to retrieve your deleted iCloud photos back.

recover iCloud Photos on Mac

iCloud, Apple’s cloud storage, is built into every Apple device. When you turn iCloud on, sign into the same iCloud account, all your files are available on your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and iMac.

In the same way, once you delete a photo intentionally, or wrongly use Ctrl Alt Delete on Mac, the photo will be erased from all your Apple devices with iCloud enabled. If you want to know how to retrieve deleted iCloud photos, this post offers the answer. Let’s delve into it together.

The photos might be hidden

When you find some of your photos disappear, there is a possibility that they are hidden in the Photos app rather than be deleted from the Mac. You just forget you have hidden these photos in the past. If so, it is pretty easy to find the photos back.

  • Open the Photos app from the Dock or the Launchpad.
  • From the menu bar, click View > Show Hidden Photo Album.
  • Find the photo you want to move to Library, control-click one photo or shift-click multiple photos, then choose Unhide 1 PhotoUnhide 1 Photo/ Unhide 2 Photos from the menu bar.
  • Back to Library under Photos on the left side, the photos will show here.
find hidden photos on Mac

Can I recover deleted iCloud photos

In the first place, you can check whether you have turned iCloud on for the Photos app on your Mac, navigating to Apple menu > System Preferences > Apple ID. If the checkbox next to Photos hasn’t been ticked, then you can directly recover deleted photos on the Mac.

If the checkbox has been ticked, it means the iCloud is turned on when you delete the photo. However, there is a great chance to recover deleted iCloud photos, even if you have permanently deleted them on your Mac.

4 ways to retrieve deleted iCloud photos

Be it you deleted a photo intentionally or by mistake, be it you deleted a photo permanently from “Recently Deleted” or the deleted photo disappear after 30 days, you can find the solution to recover the iCloud photos to your Mac. 4 ways are covered in this part, let’s explore them one by one.

Method 1.Recover deleted iCloud photos with the Photos app

When you deleted a photo from the Photos app, it will not disappear from your Mac. The deleted photo will be moved from Library to Recently Deleted where you are allowed to undo the deletion.

  • Open the Photos app from the Dock or the Launchpad.
  • Click Recently Deleted from the left menu under Photos.
  • Select the photo you want to recover and click Recover from the top right.
  • Then the selected photos will be moved back to Library.
recover from Photos app

Method 2. Recover deleted iCloud photos on iCloud.com

Once you turn on the iCloud Photo on your device, all your photos will upload to iCloud.com. All your editing including adding, naming, grouping and, deleting a photo will update to iCloud.com. There, you can try to recover the deleted iCloud photos back to your Mac.

  • Launch a browser on your Mac.
  • Search for iCloud.com and log in to the same Apple ID you have on the Mac.
  • Click Photos from the panel.
  • Click Recently Deleted from the left menu under Library
  • Select the photo you want to recover, then click Recover from the top right.
recover from iCloud.com

Method 3. Recover permanently deleted iCloud photos from Time Machine

In the case that you deleted photos from Recently Deleted in the Photos app, or the deleted photos automatically disappear after 30 days, the photos are permanently deleted from your Mac.

In this way, the 2 methods introduced before do not apply to recover permanently deleted photos. However, if you have backed up the Mac with Time Machine, you may restore files from Time Machine such as photos, videos, documents, etc.

Note: If you use iCloud Photos and you restore the System Photo Library from a Time Machine backup, any photos you’ve deleted since the last Time Machine backup are restored to your Mac and uploaded to iCloud again.

  • Connect the Time Machine backup drive to your Mac.
  • Click the Time Machine icon at the menu bar > Enter Time Machine, or choose the Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
  • Scroll over to find the backup you need to recover Photo Library from the Time machine or use the Up/Down arrows.
  • Control-click the Photos Library to choose Restore Photos Library, and then select a destination other than where the current Photos Library lives.
  • Click Restore.
clear Safari data

Method 4. Recover permanently deleted iCloud photos with third-party software

What a pity if you haven’t back up your Mac with Time Machine. But except for there methods mentioned above, there is the last resort you can give it a shot, that is third-party software designed to recover iCloud data.

There is various iCloud data recovery software you can choose from. And the specific operations are usually simple to follow. So you can pick one data recovery product and download it on your Mac. Generally, you just need to log in to your iCloud account and scan your deleted photos. Then review the scan result to recover the desired photos back to your Mac.

Final Words

In case you deleted some important files by mistake or lose some important files unexpectedly such as missing files after Mac update, you may want to find the files back. To avoid important data loss on your Mac, you can regularly back up your important files to different devices(USB, SSD), in different ways(local, cloud, email), and in different places for duble insurrance.


How to disable iCloud Photo on Mac?

Head to Apple menu > System Preferences > Apple ID, find the Photos app, then untick the checkbox next to it. Enter the password when prompts.

Why can't I see my iCloud photos on my Mac?

You can check whether your Mac has connected to the internet. Besides, check whether you have logged in to the same Apple ID on the devices you want to sync the photos.