Data Recovery

How to Recover Deleted Photos on Mac: 5 Essential Methods to Try in 2021

MacBooks are incredible devices that allow us to store thousands of photos. Storing our data digitally can occasionally have its consequences, though. It can be easy to accidentally delete pictures with the click of a button or through a failed photo editing attempt or hard drive formatting. This can easily lead to permanently deleted photos from Mac.

Accidental photo deletion is a real hassle, and it can even be heartbreaking when you have deleted photos from special occasions in your life. If you have ever accidentally deleted personal photos before, you know how upsetting it can be to lose those precious memories.

Fret not, there is a way to get those photos back. We’re going to go over some ways to recover permanently deleted photos from Mac.

Can I recover photos that I permanently deleted?

The good news is that yes; you can retrieve deleted photos on a Mac.

When you permanently delete pictures from your Trash, they are not instantaneously erased. You have actually just lost the portal that allows you to access your files, making them invisible (at least to you!) on your Mac.

With the new Apple computers (unlike previous models), most come equipped with SSDs instead of the classic HDD. The SSDs themselves support TRIM technology. The use of TRIM drastically reduces the probability of data recovery after permanent deletion. Although this makes the chances of recovery low, they are never zero.

There are many reasons for photo loss; the most common ones are listed below:

  • Accidental deletion: We have probably all been there at least once; this is possibly the most common reason for photo loss.
  • ✏️ Deletion as a result of photo editing: Macs have plenty of photo editing apps. Sometimes users make the mistake of editing original images instead of copies. If the application crashes, the original photo will be corrupted. For future reference, remember to always edit a copy of the original image rather than the original.
  • 🦠 Virus or malware infection: Macs, just like any other computer, are prone to malware and virus attacks. Although virus infection is less common with Macs, occasionally users can lose important data and photos.
  • ✂️ Hard drive formatting: Photos can also be lost due to incorrect formatting. Sometimes Mac device installations and system updates cause unexpected formatting, which results in important data loss, including the loss of photo data.

5 proven ways to recover deleted photos & pictures on a Mac

Those treasured photos you lost? They might not be gone forever.

We’re going to help you permanently recover deleted photos on a Mac with these 5 essential methods:

  1. Recover deleted photos from the Photos app.
  2. Restore recently deleted photos from the Trash.
  3. Recover permanently deleted photos using data recovery software.
  4. Restore accidentally deleted photos via Time Machine.
  5. Retrieve your backed-up photos from iCloud.

Let’s go over these methods one by one and show you how to recover your photos step by step.

Method #1: Recover deleted photos from the Photos app

First, if you have deleted your photos from your Photos app, make sure to check your “Recently Deleted” folder.

  1. Simply go to Photos and tap “Recently Deleted” in the Utilities section.recover deleted photos on Mac iPhotos
  2. When you see the missing photo or video, select the photo and click “Recover”. The photo should return to your Library. recover deleted photos on Mac iPhoto Alternatively, you can also click and then drag the photo to move it back to your Library.recover deleted photos on Mac iPhoto

⚠️ Remember that anything in your “Recently Deleted” folder stays there for 30 days. After 30 days, your photos are permanently deleted.

Method #2: Restore recently deleted photos from the Trash

This is one of the easiest methods for recovering your photos. If you’ve deleted your photos and they are still in the trash, you can easily retrieve the photos using the Put Back option.

  1. Go to the Trash by clicking its icon in the Dock.
  2. Select the photos that you want to recover.
  3. Right-click on each photo you want to recover and select “Put Back”.recover deleted photos on Mac trash

Method #3: Recover permanently deleted photos using data recovery software

While Macs come with a great collection of software applications that allow users to accomplish all kinds of tasks, from the most basic to the most complex, they lack a critical piece of software: a data recovery app.

Data Recovery Software for Mac is the solution if your deleted images are no longer in the trash or the Photos app. There are many Mac photo recovery software applications online that you can use to recover deleted pictures on a Mac. We recommend Disk Drill. Disk Drill, one of the most preferred solutions for data recovery. It is a user-friendly data recovery Mac tool that can restore images that can’t be recovered from the Photos app or the Trash.

Disk Drill can conduct a deep scan of your Mac to retrieve data in more than 400 file formats by utilizing complex algorithms. Disk Drill users can even recover data from storage devices that are failing or corrupted. Download and install this great data recovery software and follow the following steps to retrieve your deleted pictures right away!

  1. To get started, you will want to download the application, install it, and grant two Disk Drill permissions to allow it to function properly.recover deleted photos on Mac disk drill
  2. Then you will need to launch Disk Drill and click the “Search for lost data” button next to the drive you want to recover.recover deleted photos on Mac disk drill
  3. Wait for the scan to finish. When the scan has finished, select all the photos that you want to recover. You can even preview the photos before recovering them by clicking the “Preview” button.
  4. Finally, click the “Recovery” button in the top-right corner, specify the recovery destination, and then begin the recovery process.recover deleted photos on Mac disk drill
  5. You should see a window that will allow you to view your recovered images in Finder.recover deleted photos on Mac disk drill

If you’re having trouble with permissions, watch this video to learn how to enable Disk Drill’s System Extension on MacOS Big Sur. You might need to restart your Mac for the application to work properly.

💡 Please note that this is only necessary while scanning internal system drives. External hard drives do not require the steps in the video.

Method #4: Restore accidentally deleted photos via Time Machine

Time Machine is an application that comes installed on every MacBook. It is a fantastic local backup tool. It can be useful for recovering photos from your older backups.

If you have previously activated Time Machine and configured it to back up your photos in the background, then you can recover your photos easily and without any issue.

  1. First, you need to open the folder where your photos were stored, using Finder.
  2. Then click the Time Machine icon located in the menu bar and choose “Enter Time Machine”.
  3. Use the arrows on the right to go back in time until you see the deleted photos you want to restore. Then click “Restore” to get them back.recover with time machine

It’s as easy as that; your precious photos will be restored.

Please keep in mind that depending on the size of your library, it may take some time for the photo library to be recovered.

Method #5: Retrieve your backed-up photos from iCloud

The final photo recovery tool is iCloud. iCloud is Apple’s own cloud backup service. It can be used to store your photos and synchronize them across your Apple devices. When you’ve deleted a photo from iCloud, it disappears from all your devices. The good news is that while your photos might be deleted, you can still find and recover them from your “Recently Deleted” folder.

  1. Sign in to your iCloud account and go to Photos.
    recover deleted photos on Mac iCloud
  2. In Photos on iCloud, click the “Recently Deleted” album in the sidebar.
    recover deleted photos on Mac iCloud
  3. Select the photos or videos that you want to recover, and click “Recover”.recover deleted photos on Mac iCloud

Please note that you can also recover photos and videos that you have deleted in the last 30 days from the “Recently Deleted” folder. You can find the folder on the Photos app on any Apple device that has iCloud Photos turned on.


You can recover permanently deleted photos from your Mac using these five methods:

  1. 🖼️ Recover photos using the Recover Deleted Photos tool from the Photos app. If you have deleted your photos from Photos within the past 30 days and they have not been deleted from the “Recently Deleted” folder, you can recover them from there.
  2. 🗑️ Restore recently deleted photos from the Trash. You can also restore your photos from the Trash, if the Trash has not been emptied, using the “Put Back” tool.
  3. 💽 Recover permanently deleted photos using data recovery software. Your deleted photos can also be recovered using data recovery software, such as Disk Drill. The application comes with a variety of data recovery tools that allow you to recover all kinds of lost data.
  4. Restore accidentally deleted photos via Time Machine. Apple’s Time Machine application can also be used to access your photos from older backups.
  5. ☁️ Retrieve your backed-up photos from iCloud. Photos that have been deleted from your iCloud library can be retrieved from the “Recently Deleted” folder.

Yes, it is possible to recover deleted photos from your Mac after 30 days.

However, this method can work only if you have not emptied your Trash in that time. Or if you have a Time Machine backup of your photos. Please see methods 2 and 4 above.

Firstly, to recover permanently deleted photos from iCloud on Mac, you will need to sign in to your iCloud account and then go to Photos.

From there, click on the “Recently Deleted” album in the sidebar.

You will be able to see all your recently deleted photos on iCloud from the past 30 days.

Select the photos you wish to recover and click “Recover.” The photos should return to your iCloud Album.


Accidentally deleting photos can happen at any time. It can leave us feeling quite anxious and troubled. Especially if those photos are important to us.

There are several ways to recover your valuable photos. This article contains a variety of methods that you can attempt to recover photos that you might have accidentally lost or deleted from your Mac. Luckily, it’s not impossible to recover deleted pictures on Mac.

If you follow the methods mentioned above, you’ll probably be able to get your valuable photos back again. We hope you have found these methods helpful.

Nora writes user-friendly guides that solve general issues Mac users struggle with by simplifying complex macOS-related topics. She has experience writing across business, technology, finance, and several other niches. When she isn't writing, Nora enjoys reading widely and spending time in nature.
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