How to Recover Deleted Files on Mac Without Software

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Accidental data deletion is a common occurrence. A Mac user recently reported the problem “I accidentally deleted my valuable family photos on my MacBook Pro. Is there a way to recover deleted files on Mac without software?”.

Fortunately, getting your precious files deleted is not a big deal nowadays because there are several reliable ways to recover them. Using a third-party data recovery tool is the best way to do this. However, if you are wondering how to recover deleted files Mac without software, following are some of the most effective methods for deleted file recovery on Mac.

Method One: Recover Deleted Files from Trash on Mac

When you realize that you have accidentally deleted your files on Mac, checking Trash should be your first priority. This is because when you delete a file on Mac, it is usually (in most cases) moved to the Trash folder. Trash is a special folder that keeps all the deleted files for a limited time (30 days) until it is automatically or manually emptied. So, before the Mac Trash has been emptied, there’s a good chance to recover your recently deleted files with just a few clicks.

Use the Finder or Dock on your Mac to find and launch Trash.

Once Trash folder is opened, find and choose the files that you wish to restore and right-click on them. If you remember the name of the files, then use the search bar to find them quickly.

Next, use the Put Back option to restore them to their original folder. If the original directory no longer exists, then you will be prompted to specify the new folder for storing the files.

recover files from Mac trash

Method Two: Restore Files Without Software Via Time Machine Backup

Time Machine is one of the most popular ways to recover deleted files on Mac without software. It is a very useful utility program on Mac that creates regular backups of your data (when enabled). In case of accidental data deletion, you can use the Time Machine backup to restore the deleted files quite easily.

Time Machine must be enabled to take advantage of this data recovery method.

Retrieve deleted files without software via Time Machine Backup:

  • 1. Launch Time Machine on your Mac via Mac’s menu bar.

  • 2. Use the Finder’s up arrow to navigate to the timeline before the deletion of your files.

  • 3. Once you find the desired backup, press the Finder Window. Then browse and find the files that you want to recover.

  • After locating the desired files, use the Spacebar to preview them and then click on the Restore button to restore them to their original folder.

restore files from Time Machine backup

Method Three: Recover Deleted Files by Undoing a Delete on Mac

Just like Windows, you can reverse your actions via the Undo command on Mac. This feature can also be used to restore deleted files.

This method only works if you use the Undo option immediately after deleting the file. Also, you cannot use this method to recover your deleted files if you have already taken other actions or exited the program that you use to erase those files.

After noticing that you have accidently deleted a file, highlight the program that was used to erase that file.

Use the menu bar to open the Edit menu.

Then click on the Undo Move option. Your deleted file will be restored.

Alternatively, you can also undo the delete operation by pressing Command + Z on your keyboard. Just make sure that the right application is in focus when you execute the Undo command, otherwise it will not work.

Method Four: Recover Deleted Mac Files Using Terminal Command

Terminal is a common utility program on Mac that allows you to perform several useful operations, one of which is restoring deleted files. The process to recover deleted Mac files via Terminal command is straightforward. All you need is the exact name of the deleted file that you wish to recover and the right sequence of the Terminal commands.

This method will only work if Trash hasn’t been emptied after the deletion of your data.

Recover deleted Mac files using terminal command:

Step 1: Launch Terminal on your Mac. You can find it in the Applications > Utilities section.

Step 2: On the Terminal command interface, input “cd.Trash”.

Step 3: Next, input ls -al ~/.Trash to see the contents of the Trash folder.

Step 4: Now input mv filename../. (filename here refers to the file that you wish to restore).

Step 5: After inputting the above command, press Enter. Terminal will restore the file to its original location.

Bonus: Recover Deleted Files from Mac without Backups

Although there are several ways to recover deleted files on Mac without software, those methods have various cons as stated above, and the methods doesn’t always work. So, if you want a surefire way to recover deleted files on Mac without backups, it is recommended that you use iMyFone AnyRecover. This data recovery tool has a very high success rate when it comes to deleted files recovery and it is equipped with several useful features.

AnyRecover product

1,000,000 + Downloads

Features of iMyFone AnyRecover:        

All-inclusive data recovery: AnyRecover is capable of recovering 1000+ file formats.

100% safe data recovery:  You can use this tool to recover your deleted files without worrying about overwriting your existing data.

No need to look for any backups: AnyRecover directly scans the drive location you specify in order to find your deleted data.

User-friendly interface and easy-to-use, powerful data recovery operations.

Fully compatible with Mac OS X 10.9 to Mac OS X 10.15.

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Steps to Recover Deleted Files on Mac Via AnyRecover

Step 1: Launch iMyFone AnyRecover on your Mac. Specify the location for scanning and then click on the Start button to proceed.

select a location with AnyRecover

Step 2: AnyRecover will start the scanning process. Wait for it to finish. You can pause or stop the scanning process at any time.

scan lost files with AnyRecover

Step 3: Once the software has completed the scan, you will see a list of recoverable files. From that list, preview the files that you want to recover and select them. After that, click on the Recover button to start the data recovery process.

recover deleted files on Mac with AnyRecover


Getting your valuable data accidentally deleted can be a frustrating experience. However, if you know the different ways to recover deleted files on Mac, you can deal with the problem in an efficient and timely manner. The four methods listed above (i.e. Trash, Time Machine, Undo, Terminal Command) are some of the most reliable ways to recover deleted files on Mac without software. However, the best way to quickly recover deleted data on Mac would be using the data recovery tool iMyFone AnyRecover for Mac. It’s a fast and reliable tool that allows you to recover all types of files within just a few minutes.

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By  James Crawford , to Deleted Files Recovery

Posted on Jul 23, 2020  ( Updated: Jul 28, 2020 )

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