How to recover deleted files on Mac without software: 5 Effective ways!

We’ve all deleted files from our Mac computers at one point. It’s even worse when you accidentally lose important data. The challenge is that we want to recover the files on the Mac, and may not know the options available. Do you need Mac data recovery software to recover your deleted files? Maybe not!

Whether you’re using an old Macintosh or the latest MacBook Pro, you’re never truly exempt from accidental data loss. Naturally, this is always a stressful time, especially when you don’t have the slightest clue how to recover your lost data.

Your best bet is to try and recover your data as quickly as possible before you lose it forever.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can recover deleted files from your Mac – even after emptying your Trash. In this post, we will share with you some steps to recover accidentally deleted files on your Mac without using additional software:

How to recover files on a Mac without a software

1. Restore Deleted Files from Trash Bin

Whenever you delete a file accidentally on your Mac, the first place you will look is the Trash. That’s because all your recently deleted files will be stored in the Trash temporarily. You won’t have “deleted” your file yet. In that case, you can use the following simple steps to recover your deleted files quickly from the Trash of your Mac without using third-party software:

  • Open the Trash Bin icon
  • Here, you can see all recently deleted files
  • Scroll through all the deleted files, select the files you want to recover, and drag them to your desktop
  • Another alternative is to right-click on the selected files then click on the “put back” option
  • The files will be returned to their original location.

Finally, check to see if all your files and folders have been recovered successfully.

You can also use the Terminal app to access your Trash and recover all deleted files. This process may require the use of some commands. Therefore, you can use the method above for easy recovery.

2. Recover Deleted Files Using the Undo Option

There comes a time when junk and other temporary files fill your Mac computer leaving you with little to no space. Then, in the middle of deleting your files, you accidentally delete important data.

The lovely thing about a Mac is that it keeps track of everything that you do!

Come to the scratch disk. This is a virtual space that stores parts of your working documents and editing history. Clearing your disk space gives you enough space to recover any files you deleted accidentally. Unfortunately, not many people know how to clear it and leave it untouched.

You may have to clear your photoshop cache and remove temporary files to allocate enough space for the recovery process.

If you accidentally delete important files, you can restore them easily using the “Undo” option. As with all file recovery options, you should do this immediately after discovering you deleted the wrong files from your Mac. This process will be invalid if, in any case, you remove the files from the Trash Bin or delete them permanently.

Here’s what you can do:

  • After deleting the files, go to the “Edit” option
  • Select the “Undo” option
  • You can also use the “Command+Z” key to undo the delete command

If the process is successful, all your files will return to their original folders.

3. How to use time machine to restore files

Time Machine is one of Apple’s best backup solutions for Mac. But this process also only works when you have the Time Machine Backup enabled. The Time Machine backup allows you to recover deleted files even when you’ve emptied the Trash Bin.

NOTE: This process is useless if you didn’t create any backup before initiating the delete command. The backup can be onto the cloud, on a WiFi router with a hard drive, or other backup methods.

Follow these steps to recover your files using Time Machine Backup:

  • Launch the Time Machine program on your Mac. You will find it in the menu bar and choose Enter Time Machine Backup. Alternatively, you can open the folder where your deleted files were last located in Finder. Then, select the Time Machine icon as explained above. You can also search for it using Spotlight. Opening the Time Machine enables you to get access to the older versions of your document.
  • Here, you can find specific files you want to be restored. You should note that the Time machine will give you the most recent version of the deleted folder. However, if you want an older version of the folder, you have the option to use the two buttons and the timeline on the right. Once you find the files, you can preview them by pressing the spacebar.
  • Once you are sure you found the deleted files, click the “Restore” button. The button is found at the bottom of the screen.

The deleted files will be returned to their original location upon successful file recovery.

4. App-Specific Recovery Features

A quick scan of the Mac apps will show that most of them have a recovery process. This enables you to recover deleted files from your Mac without using a software. The reason is that you may have deleted the files unknowingly.

You can for example recover deleted photos in the Photos app. The built-in photo recovery feature is included on Mac OS X Yosemite and newer versions.

However, of note is that the deleted photos have a time lapse. You can only recover them from the Recentrly Deleted Album within 30 days. Afterwards, the photos will be gone from this folder.

Thus, if you want to recover the photo after the 30 days grace period, you will have to use recovery software majorly from a third-party source. The following are the steps for recovering deleted photos from your Mac without using software:

Step 1. On your Mac access the Photos App and then select the Albums tab

How to recover deleted photos from a Mac: The recently deleted photo can be recovered from the Mac without using a third-party software on the in-app recovery features

As stated above, the deleted photos can be recovered in Mac OS Yosemite or the newer versions. On this Mac, you will get a preinstalled Photos App. Therefore, click on the phots app found in the applications folder.

You can also use a shortcut to get access to the Photos app by pressing (Command + Space) Spotlight and then type “photos”. Once you do this, press Return.

Step 2. Go to the Recently Deleted Library

As you will see in the recovery process, the Photos App is very easy and straightforward to use. Once you access the Photos App, you will see two panes on Mac’s main window.

The left pane shows all the libraries, albums, and projects. The right pane shows the recently access library, album, or project. Therefore, on the left pane, select the Recently Deleted library. This action will open the Recently Deleted library content on the right pane.

How to recover a recently deleted photo on a Mac without using a third party software: If you are within 30 days, you will find the file on the Recently Deleted folder on your Mac

Step 3. On the Recently Deleted album, choose the photo/s you want to recover and hit the Recover button

On the Recently Deleted library, you will be able to see all the photos deleted within the last 30 days. In addition, it will show you the days that you have until the photo is deleted from the library.

Therefore, to recover a photo or group of photos, click on them individually. This will tick them as you select. Once you have selected them all, click the Recover button. You will see the Recover button situated at the top-right hand on your screen.

Once you press recover, the photos will return to their original folder in the Photos library.

5. iCloud Drive

One of the most beautiful things about a Mac other than the design is the direct connection to the iCloud Drive. The Apple cloud storage feature makes it easy to access your files everywhere and easily recover them in case of accidental deletion.

However, for this solution to take place, you need to set up your iCloud Drive. When set, you can change the settings of your Mac to automatically store files from some folders on the cloud. This makes it easy to get access to documents or files saved in these folders everywhere and on any device.

When the backup is done, you can easily recover the documents from the cloud even if they are deleted from your Mac. However, you will require an internet connection for backup and recovery to be done.

Steps to restore a file deleted from iCloud

Before we start, note that the deleted files backed on your iCloud Drive can be recovered within 30 days following the deletion. The following are the steps you can follow to restore the deleted files:

  • On your Mac, go to You will get a login page where you need to type your Apple ID or password.
How to recover deleted files from your iCloud Drive on your Mac without a Software
  • Then, open iCloud Drive and select the Recently Deleted folder. You will find the folder in the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  • Finally, select Recover All if you want to restore the whole folder or select the files you would want to restore and then click Recover.

Recovering the files/ documents deleted from other applications

It is also easy to restore files or documenst deleted from an app on your Mac. The following are the easy to follow steps to restore the deleted data:

  • On your Mac, go to Using your Apple ID login to the iCloud.
  • Once logged in, check on your profile’s drop-down menu. There, select Settings followed by Advanced.
  • On the Advanced menu, select Restore Files.
  • Select the files you want to restore if you want to restore specific files or Select All if you want to restore all the deleted files.

For this recovery method, we have a similar challenge that we get in the trash bin recovery method. This is you can only recover the files deleted from your Mac without third-party Software within 30 days of deletion. The other limitation is that for you to use this recovery method, you need to be using the iCloud.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why is it possible to recover permanently deleted files on a Mac?

It is possible to recover permanently deleted files on a Mac because even though the Mac deletes the files from the folder, it does not physically remove the document from storage. It however marks the space as available for any other document. Thus, if there is no document that has occupied that space, you can recover the file. This you can only recover a file if the data is not overwritten.

Which is the best data recovery software for a Mac that is free?

There are several data recovery software for both Mac and Windows. The best include Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery, Disk Drill Data Recovery, EaseUS Data Recovery, and TestDisk Data Recovery. The recovery software gives a good success rate in the recovery of data that has been deleted from your Mac or destroyed by malware.

Where are recently deleted files on Mac?

The recently deleted files on a Mac are found on the Trash Bin on your Mac. You can easily access the Trash on the desktop of your Mac or on the applications folder. From the folder, you can drag the documents you want to recover or press Put Back to restore the files to their original folder.

Are permanently deleted photos gone forever?

If you want to restore the photos within 60 days, you can easily get them from the Trash Bin of your Mac or Recycle Bin on your Windows device. Otherwise, you will lose the photos if you had not backed up the photos on iCloud or Google drive. Therefore, if you do not want to lose the photos forever, you need to activate back up & sync on your device.


There you have it. You can use the steps mentioned above to recover your deleted files on your Mac without using third-party software. The Time Machine backup option is probably the best recovery option when all other retrieval efforts fail.

Ultimately, the best strategy is to back up your Mac to prevent accidental data loss. This way, you never have to worry about losing your important data again!

Categorized as Internet