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October 30, 2020

If You Empty Trash on Mac, Can You Get It Back?

I’m using a MacBook with macOS Catalina. I emptied Trash accidentally, and I need to recover some photos. Help, please!

Hi, I have accidentally deleted an important PowerPoint document from Trash. I have a MacBook Pro. Can I recover it back?

Queries like the ones shared above are quite common. People accidentally empty the Trash folder and realize that they need the deleted file(s) back. So, is it possible to get the emptied Trash data back?

The answer is Yes.

This blog will explore the three most efficient tools that can help you get your deleted data back. Before that, let’s see how it is possible to recover data that has been deleted from the Trash folder.

Data Recovery for deleted files: How is it possible?

Data Recovery is possible because the deleted files still exist in your Mac storage drive. When you delete a file, it just becomes invisible in the space it existed, and that space becomes available to store new data. The deleted data moves to a remote location, which can be accessed only by a dedicated data recovery utility.

However, Mac data recovery is not possible if new data overwrites the old deleted data. This is why it is recommended to start data recovery as soon as you learn that the data is lost. Do not try to add new data or make changes in the OS or the hard drive before performing the recovery.

Let’s see the 3 best tools to help you get your deleted data back, faster, and for free.

1. Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac

Using a free Mac file recovery software to recover your data is one of the most efficient ways of data recovery. Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac is one of the software that looks for these invisible yet available files in your Mac hard drive. Once located, the software recovers and saves the files back into your system.

Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac is the most powerful and efficient data recovery software that can recover your lost data, free of cost. It uses advanced recovery techniques to trace the deleted files and recover them successfully. The tool can recover up to 1 GB of deleted data. For unlimited recovery, you can explore the other variants of the software here.

Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac interface
Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac interface


  • Free file recovery from empty trash
  • Recover more than 300 types of documents, photos, videos, audio, email & more
  • Preview-before-you-recover feature
  • Interactive interface to suit the preferences of Mac users
  • Unlimited and advanced recovery of data with Professional version

2. Test Disk for Mac

The next free Mac data recovery tool is also software that recovers different types of deleted/lost files from your Mac system. Test Disk for Mac is an efficient software and is completely free of cost. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a Graphic user-interface, which means that you need to deploy the software via the command prompt. It might not be very easy for non-tech-savvy people. Nevertheless, it is a powerful tool that recovers most of your lost/deleted data from the Trash folder.

To access Test Disk, you need to download the software and then access it on your Mac’s Terminal platform. In addition to files and folders, Test Disk can also recover lost partitions.

Running TestDisk on Mac’s Terminal platform
Running TestDisk on Mac’s Terminal platform


  • Recovers many file formats and types
  • Recovers data from corrupted or formatted partitions

3. Time Machine

The third tool here is a backup utility that is present in your Mac systems. It’s the Time Machine application. Many Mac users use Time Machine to regularly back their data in an external USB device or an AirPort Time Capsule. Therefore, before going for data recovery software, it is always good to check if you have made any deleted Trash file backup. This way, a lot of effort and money can be saved.

Before you start, ensure that your backup disk is connected to the Mac. You can then follow the steps as described on the Apple support page here.

Time Machine app
Time Machine app

Tips to keep your data safe 

1. Regularly backup your data: Regular backup is essential in safeguarding your valuable data. Placing your data in more than one place protects the data. Always keep a Cloud backup of your data so that you can access it anytime and on any device. It also protects you if your backup device is lost or damaged.

2. Turn off your computer correctly: When you are done using your Mac, turn it off properly and don’t just put the laptop flap down. It can help in preventing software crashes that could lead to loss of data.

3. Regularly check your Trash folder: As discussed, accidental deletion is the leading cause of data loss. To some extent, you can prevent that by checking your Trash folder regularly. It will help you identify the accidentally deleted files. Also, never empty the Trash before reviewing all the contents in the folder.

Bonus Tip: How to better organize your files?

Our Macs are our virtual file cabinets. We store all our personal, professional, and miscellaneous data here. Keeping these cabinets organized can help us handle our data in a more efficient way. Also, it can reduce the instances of accidental file deletion. Below are few tips to better manage your data in your Mac.

1. Do not store everything on your Desktop: The files on the desktop are for immediate attention. The desktop shouldn’t be cluttered with extra files and folders.

2. Manage the desktop files: You can customize the files on the desktop by changing the size of the icons, text size, and more. Just go to Desktop > View. Then choose the desired option.

3. Smartly create folders/sub-folders: Placing the files and folders into proper groups and sub-groups allows you to search and efficiently manage these files.

4. Stack your desktop files: Stack your desktop files by kind, date, and tags. This way, whenever you add images, they go in one stack, excel files go in another stack, and so on. This method helps you keep the desktop in order, and the new files automatically go into the respective stack.

Final Thoughts

Hope the above post has guided you on how to recover your files from an emptied Trash folder. First, look for any backup and if no backup is available, go for the best Mac data recovery tool. This blog describes the 3 best methods to recover files deleted from the Trash folder. You can also explore various data protection and file organization tips. They can help you better manage the files on your Mac.

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