[2020] How to Recover Missing Documents Folder on Mac?

Most MacOS users store commonly used files in the Documents folder. If the folder goes missing, you may not be able to find most of your crucial files. This can be frustrating, especially if you are dealing with the issue for the first time. In this article, we will show you the different solutions you can use to get rid of the “documents folder missing on Mac” issue. Before we help you recover the missing Documents folder, let’s see why the folder disappeared in the first place.

Part 1:  Reasons Why Documents Folder is Missing on Mac

The “Documents folder missing on Mac” problem is generally caused by 2 main reasons. These are:

iCloud Syncing Issues

If you are using a recent version of macOS, it should have a feature that allows you to sync your Desktop and Documents folders to iCloud. This gives you the ability to access your files on all your devices. If the iCloud Drive syncing happens to have issues, macOS may remove the Desktop and Documents folders and store them on iCloud Drive only. This could cause your Documents folder to disappear.

Finder Preferences

If you have disabled the Documents option visibility on the sidebar (in the Finder Preferences), the Documents folder won’t appear on the sidebar. While the folder will still be available on the Mac, if you are used to finding it on your sidebar, you may think that you have lost it forever.

Part 2: Solutions to the “Documents Folder Missing on Mac” Issue

Solution 1: Turn Off iCloud Drive to Recover the Disappeared Documents Folder

To use this solution, you will need to follow the steps we have outlined below:

Got to the Apple Menu > select System Preferences > iCloud.

Click Options.

Be sure to uncheck the “Desktop & Documents Folders” option.

documents folder missing mac

Note: You may get a warning that the files present in the Desktop and Documents folders will be removed from your Mac and kept in the iCloud Drive. Hit the OK button on the warning.

Hit the Done button.

Note: Now, the Documents folder should appear again on your computer. However, when you open the folder, it will be empty. This is because your files have been removed from the folder and kept in the iCloud Drive. To get the files back in the Documents folder, drag them from the iCloud Drive and into the folder.

Solution 2: Recover Disappeared or Missing Documents Folder to Finder

To use this solution to solve the “Documents folder missing on Mac” issue, follow the steps below:

Open the Finder in your Mac computer and then select the Finder option from the menu bar.

From the Finder menu, select Preferences.

Hit the Sidebar tab. Next, tick the Documents option. This should restore the missing Documents folder.

Part 3: Best Way to Recover Missing Documents Folder with AnyRecover

In some instances, you may find that solution 1 and 2 aren’t offering the results you are looking for. While they may restore the Documents folder, you may realize that the files you had in the folder are neither available in the restored folder or the iCloud Drive.

If you are dealing with this issue, there is a possibility that your files could have been deleted from the computer. If you find yourself in this situation, you do not have to assume that you have lost your files completely. You can easily recover your lost files using a third-party tool called AnyRecover.


1,000,000 + Downloads

Main features of AnyRecover:
  • The tool works with more than 1000 file formats, including folders, documents, photos, videos, music, etc.

  • AnyRecover supports all storage devices, including hard drives, flash drives, SD cards, mobile phones, etc.

  • It helps you recover files and folders lost via virus/malware attacks, damaged hard drive, emptied trash or recycle bin, lost partitions, etc.

  • A free trial version for both Windows and Mac is available.

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To use AnyRecover to recover your lost documents and folders, you will need to follow the steps below. We will assume that you lost your files via deletion:

Step 1. After installing AnyRecover on your Mac, launch it and select “Deleted Files Recovery” on the Home screen.

anyrecover screenshot

Step 2. Select the location where you lost your files or folder and then hit the “Next” button.

anyrecover screenshot

Step 3. Select the types of files you would like to get back and then hit the “Scan” button. Wait while AnyRecover locates your files.

anyrecover screenshot

Step 4. After the scanning process, you will be allowed to preview the found folders. You can then select the ones you wish to get back. To get them back, tap the “Recover” button.

anyrecover screenshot

anyrecover screenshot

Part 4: How to Avoid Losing the Documents Folder?

To avoid having the “Documents folder missing on mac” issue in the future, the first thing you will need to do is ensure that it is always selected in the Finder Preferences under the Sidebar. This will allow you to open the folder by tapping its icon on the Sidebar.

Viruses and malware do delete and corrupt files. To avoid losing files to viruses, be sure to invest in an ideal antivirus. Additionally, avoid plugging unknown storage devices into your computer.

Backing up your files is always a good idea. If you happen to lose some of your files, you can always restore the lost files from the backup.


If the Documents folder has gone missing on your computer, you do not have to panic. The folder may still be available on your computer. Before assuming that you have lost the folder completely, try the solutions we have outlined above. If you have lost some files in the Documents folder, you can use AnyRecover to get your files back.

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By  James Crawford , to Document Recovery

Posted on Sep 23, 2019  ( Updated: Oct 21, 2020 )