[Fixed] Files Disappeared From Desktop Mac?

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Most users like to keep important or frequently-viewed files and folders on desktop to access them quickly. But sometimes they complain that those files disappeared from the desktop on Mac suddenly. It is a frightening situation to lose the files that are deemed important to you. Any unexpected scenario or malfunction can lead to this issue, but most of the time the files are recoverable. Multiple methods can let you recover those desktop files or folders in no time. This article will list them all one by one. But first, let's discuss the reasons that can lead to the disappearance of desktop files on Mac.

files disappeared from desktop mac

Part 1. Why My Files Disappeared From Desktop Mac?

There is no one particular reason behind "files and folders disappeared from desktop on Mac", but the common ones as reported by many users include:

  • If you have enabled your desktop files and folders to be synced with iCloud Drive, then it can make them disappear from the desktop.
  • Virus or malware might have penetrated your Mac, which lead the OS to misbehave and caused deletion or disappearance of desktop files and folders.
  • Sudden power outage resulting in data loss.
  • The desktop files are hidden from you.
  • You updated your macOS.
  • You intentionally or accidentally sent your desktop files and folders to another location, like Trash, but you totally forget about it.

There can be other unique reasons, but the main thing is how to recover those files and folders. Let's now discuss the different effective methods to resolve this matter.

Part 2. 5 Methods to Recover Files and Folders Disappeared From Desktop Mac

Method 1: Search Desktop Files on Mac Using Spotlight Search

Since there are chances that you accidentally moved your desktop files to another location or folder, so you can use Spotlight to search the files within your Mac. Spotlight is a built-in search tool in macOS that lets you instantly locate files, documents, and apps on your Mac. Follow the steps below to use Spotlight:

  • Click the "magnifying glass" shaped icon located at the top-right side to launch Spotlight. A pop-up search window will appear.

  • spotlight icon

  • In the search field, write the name of the file. If you don't remember the file name, then you can also search the file with keywords or any text that is inside the file.

  • search files using spotlight search

  • Spotlight will present multiple files suggestions that match your searched text. If you find the file you're looking for, then you can either open it or drag & drop it to the desktop. Even if you have accidentally moved the files to Trash, Spotlight will still show them in the search field. Therefore, if misplacing desktop files within Mac is the issue, then you must be able to find the files using Spotlight.

Method 2: Unhide Mac Desktop Files Through Finder

Mac empowers users to hide and unhide files and folders, so that's one of the possible reasons for files disappeared from Mac desktop. You can quickly unhide files through the Finder. Follow the steps below to use Finder:

  • Click "Finder" in the Dock to open a new window.

  • Open the "Macintosh HD" folder.

  • Press "Command" + "Shift" + "." keys. It will show all the hidden files to you. From there, you can locate your disappeared desktop files and unhide them.

  • show all files

  • Once done, press the "Command" + "Shift" + "." keys again to hide the remaining files.

This way, if your desktop files were hidden before, you will be able to see them through the Finder.

Method 3: Unhide Mac Desktop Files Through Terminal

You can also view hidden files and folders on Mac using the Terminal command-line interface. It gives you command-based access to your macOS. Follow these steps to use Terminal:

  • Launch Terminal (located at /Applications/Utilities) > Applications > Utilities.

  • launch terminal

  • Copy and paste the following command: "defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE". Press the "Return" key.

  • Copy and paste the following command: "killall Finder". Press the "Return" key.

  • enter commands in terminal

The first command makes Finder show all the files. The second command stops Finder and then restarts it to make the changes take effect. In this way, you will be able to see hidden files and folders in Finder. Later on, to hide the files, simply redo the second step and replace "TRUE" with "FALSE" in the command.

Method 4: Disable iCloud Drive

In the new macOS, you get the iCloud feature that lets you sync your Mac data to iCloud Drive. Once the Mac folders have been synced with iCloud, you will be able to access them on different Apple devices and platforms, such as Mac, and iCloud portal, etc.

If you have enabled the synchronization of the "Desktop & Documents" folders, then these two folders will be moved to the iCloud section in the Finder. So, it's one of the possible reasons for Mac folders disappeared from the desktop. To resolve the issue, simply disable iCloud Drive from accessing desktop and documents folders. Follow the steps below to disable iCloud Drive:

  • Click on the Apple menu and then click "System Preferences".

  • apple menu system preferences

  • Click "iCloud" and then click "Options" located next to "iCloud Drive".

  • icloud drive options on mac

  • Untick the "Desktop & Documents Folders" checkbox and click the "Done" button.

  • disable desktop documents folder

Once you've done these steps, you might see a warning message narrating that "it will remove files and folders from desktop and documents folders and show only in iCloud Drive". So, continue and complete the process. Afterward, go to iCloud Drive, navigate to Desktop & Documents folders, drag and drop the files and folders to the desktop.

Method 5. Recover Disappeared Files Instantly with AnyRecover for Mac

The above four methods are likely going to resolve the issue, but if they fail to do so, then possibly you have lost those files and need to recover them now. This is where the "iMyFone AnyRecover for Mac" data recovery tool comes in handy.

AnyRecover for Mac is a one-click solution to recover almost any files that you have stored on the Mac desktop. In addition, the user-friendly interface makes it convenient for anyone to use. Follow the step below to use AnyRecover for Mac tool:

Step 1. Download and launch AnyRecover for Mac on your computer.

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Step 2. Select "Desktop" as the location from where you want the tool to scan and find lost files. Afterward, click the "Start" button.

apple menu system preferences

Step 3. The scanning process will begin and it will populate all the recoverable files soon. You can even pause or stop the process in between.

scanning selected drive mac

Step 4. Once the scanning process is completed, you can preview the recoverable files by double-clicking them. Afterward, select the files you want to recover and press the "Recover" button.

anyrecover mac recover complete

This way, all the selected files will be recovered and you can move them back to your desktop.

Conclusion

Desktop files can disappear on your Mac occasionally due to any reason. But the important thing is that you know the ways to get back those files in minimal time. The above 5 methods are effective approaches to discover files that disappeared from the desktop on Mac. So, you can try them out one-by-one until the problem is resolved. But if you don't want to spend time on all methods, then simply opt for AnyRecover for Mac in the first place. It is an intelligent tool that is capable to recover desktop files no matter what the situation.

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By Scott Tarmey , to Mac Data Recovery

Updated: Feb 08, 2022