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How to recover deleted files and photos on Mac, iPad and iPhone

Lucy Hattersley | June 6, 2016
Clicked 'delete' and instantly regretted it? Don't worry. Our tutorial explains how to recover deleted files and photos on Mac, iPad and iPhone

Losing a file in Mac OS X can be a real pain, and doubly so when you're the one who clicked delete. Fortunately it's pretty easy to recover deleted files, particularly if you realise your mistake quickly. This guide will show you how to recover deleted items on a Mac. We also cover deleted files and photos on an iPad and iPhone.

In this tutorial we'll look at simple methods for getting back deleted documents, photos, music files and contacts.

How to recover a deleted document in Mac OS X

Recovering a deleted document in Mac OS X is straightforward if you do it straight away. It will usually be found inside the Trash can - sorry, rubbish bin. Click on the Trash icon (on the right of the Dock) to view all of the files you have deleted. You can use the Search box in the Finder window to find the file (enter the search term then click on Trash instead of This Mac to search the Trash folder). Locate the file you want to rescue and drag it back out of the Trash and to the Desktop (or any other part of Finder).

But bear in mind that time is a factor here - when your hard drive gets full, Mac OS X may start to remove items from the Trash. So if you deleted it a long time ago you may find the item has been removed. In this instance, you can recover it using a Time Machine backup.

How to recover deleted files on Mac

How to recover a deleted photo on Mac: Photos

When you delete a photo from the Photos app on Mac, you get a 30-day grace period. If you change your mind before the 30 days have elapsed, you can go into the Recently Deleted album and recover the photo.

How to recover deleted photos on Mac

Select Albums from the bar along the top, and double-click Recently Deleted. You'll see a list of photos and videos you've deleted, well, recently, with a caption under each one indicating how long it's got left. Select the photo you want to get back and slick Recover at the top right. (If you want to save space and you've just deleted a bunch of large files you're absolutely certain you won't want them back, you can also click Delete All.)

How to recover deleted photos on Mac

Things become slightly more complicated if you've got iCloud Photo Library enabled. iCloud Photo Library automatically pulls in all the photos you take with your iPhone and iPad, which means there will be multiple digital copies - so a photo that's been deleted from one device will still be available on the others, right? Not so: deletions sync across all devices.


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