How to Recov­er Files From Emp­tied Trash on Mac – Guide

When was the last time you lost an important file because you accidentally deleted it and then managed to empty your Mac Recycle Bin without realizing it? Don’t be afraid to admit that this experience is still in your recent memory. The good news is that it is possible to recover items that you have deleted from the Recycle Bin, but don’t expect the Undo shortcut or some Terminal command to work.

Can you recover files after emptying the Mac recycle bin?

The answer is definitely yes. See why – deleting a file from your MacBook or iMac means that you are removing an entry. Although the icon may have disappeared from the location, the data itself is still intact. As such, you can still get it back. But there is a problem. Your system will mark the space that the deleted file once occupied as ‘available’ to record new data. This means that when you move a new file to that location, it automatically overwrites the original file. This can make recovering files a little more challenging. This method works only if you have backed up up deleted files on an external hard drive using Time Machine. So skip this solution if you don’t have a Time Machine backup. However, if you have a backup, follow the steps outlined below to restore your files.

Step 1: Start Time Machine

To start Time Machine on your MacBook or iMac, click on the Apple icon in the left corner of the screen and select System Preferences. You will find the Time Machine icon on the bottom line of the page. Alternatively, click the clock icon on the Mac menu bar to access Time Machine.

Step 2: Locate your file

To recover your files from the emptied recycle bin using Time Machine, make sure that the backup storage is connected. If so, browse your file system backups to identify the lost file. If you’re not sure how to find it, consider using Spotlight Search. Bring up the search bar using Command + Spacebar. Then, enter the file name.

Step 3: Restore your file

After identifying the lost file on the backup storage media, click Restore to return the file to your Mac. Time Machine is the only standard way to recover files from an emptied recycle bin. As such, it is essential to use the built-in tool to back up your data as often as possible. But what happens when you don’t have a Time Machine backup? That’s where data recovery software comes in.

Recover files using the data recovery tool

Tons of data recovery software exist on the Internet today. Although brand names and the user interface may vary, these file recovery software work in essentially the same way. They scan your Mac for files that are waiting to be replaced and offer the option to bring them back. This may be the most convenient way to restore your lost data. That said, a data recovery tool is only useful when you have not copied extra files to Mac storage. The last thing you want to do is replace the data you are trying to recover. With that said, follow the steps outlined below to recover your lost files using a data recovery tool.

Step 1: Download and install the data recovery tool

As I said earlier, any new file on your Mac’s SSD can overwrite your lost files. So, instead of downloading the data recovery tool on your computer, consider using a flash drive. Most of the deleted file recovery tools are paid applications. However, they usually offer a free trial period that can help restore your file. Examples of such tools include iBeesoft Data Recovery for Mac, EaseUS and Disk Drill.

Step 2: run the software and click recovery

Most recovery tools will automatically scan your computer at startup. However, in others like Disk Drill, you must first select the drive that contains the recycle bin and click on Recover. After that, a list of files that you can bring back should appear. Now, select the data you want to restore.

Step 3: Restore your file

Although you can restore your file in most data recovery tools simply by clicking Recover Now, it can corrupt the file on Disk Drill. Therefore, you must select a new location to store the restored file. Consider using a removable storage device to keep your files restored.

Final note

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