How to Recover Emptied Trash on a Mac

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Written By Michael Gilmer

Michael, a content curator at File Recovery Mac, excels at simplifying complex IT concepts into easily digestible chunks. Michael's expertise lies in IT, data recovery, and all things "techy."

Losing important files can be a distressing experience, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can increase your chances of recovering them.

How to recover emptied trash on a mac

In this article, we will explore various methods and techniques to recover emptied trash on a Mac, ensuring that you have the best chance of retrieving your lost files and avoiding a potential disaster.

Understanding Mac’s Trash Mechanism

The macOS Trash Bin isn’t just a simple deletion tool; it’s a special folder that temporarily holds your discarded files. When you delete a file, it doesn’t vanish into thin air. Instead, it’s relocated to the Trash Bin.

However, once you “empty” the Trash, the file’s storage space is marked as available. This means that while the file isn’t immediately eradicated, its recovery becomes a tad more intricate.

Preliminary Steps Before Recovery

Before you dive into the recovery process, it’s essential to ensure that the data hasn’t been overwritten. This means you should avoid adding new files or installing any software post-deletion.

If you’ve been prudent enough to have a backup solution, such as iCloud, Time Machine, or an external storage device, it’s time to check there first. This simple step might save you from the complexities of the recovery process.

Recovery Methods to Retrieve Emptied Mac Trash

1. Using Built-in Time Machine

Time Machine, an integral part of macOS, acts as your data’s guardian angel. If activated, it periodically takes snapshots of your data. To restore, navigate to the original location of the deleted file, enter Time Machine via the menu bar, and select the desired version.

2. iCloud Drive Recovery

If you’ve integrated your Mac with iCloud Drive, there’s a chance your file might be there. Simply go to, sign in, and check the iCloud Drive Archive. Look for the file and hit the download button to restore it.

3. Exploring Third-Party Software Options

The digital market is flooded with numerous software solutions that promise data recovery. When choosing, it’s imperative to prioritize reliability, user reviews, and macOS compatibility. Some of the top contenders in this realm include Disk Drill, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac, and EaseUS. These tools come equipped with advanced scanning algorithms that delve deep into your storage to retrieve lost files.

4. Seeking Professional Assistance

If DIY methods don’t yield the desired results, it might be time to turn to the professionals. Reputable data recovery services come equipped with specialized software and expertise to handle more complicated recovery tasks. However, always ensure they’re trustworthy to avoid any further data compromise.

Top 10 Recovery Software Solutions to Recover Emptied Trash on a Mac

1. Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery

Stellar Phoenix Data Recovery is a renowned software solution that offers a comprehensive approach to data recovery. It’s designed to tackle various data loss scenarios and is known for its efficiency and reliability.

  • Features:
    • Supports SSD, HDD, SD card, and USB drives.
    • Advanced scanning algorithms.
    • User-friendly interface.
    • Preview option before recovery.

2. Recoverit Data Recovery for Mac

Wondershare’s Recoverit Data Recovery for Mac stands out for its user-friendly interface and robust recovery capabilities. It promises high recovery rates and supports a wide range of file types.

  • Features:
    • Deep scan capabilities.
    • Supports over 1000 file types.
    • Real-time preview.
    • External device recovery.

3. TestDisk for Mac

TestDisk is a powerful open-source tool that’s particularly adept at recovering lost partitions and making non-booting disks bootable again.

  • Features:
    • Partition recovery.
    • Fixes boot sectors.
    • Rebuilds FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 boot sector.
    • Undelete files from FAT, exFAT, NTFS, and ext2 filesystem.

4. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac

EaseUS is a household name in the data recovery domain. Its Mac version offers advanced scanning algorithms and supports a wide range of file types.

  • Features:
    • RAW recovery.
    • Time Machine backup recovery.
    • Disk cloning for secure data recovery.
    • Supports encrypted files.

5. Disk Drill

Disk Drill is known for its advanced file recovery capabilities. With a user-friendly interface, it offers a one-click approach to data recovery.

  • Features:
    • Recovery vault for protection.
    • Byte-to-byte backups.
    • Supports iOS and Android devices.
    • Free disk tools like duplicate finder.

6. iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac

iBoysoft offers a simple yet powerful interface with advanced recovery features. It’s designed to tackle various data loss scenarios efficiently.

  • Features:
    • APFS drive decryption.
    • Time Machine backup drive recovery.
    • Lost partition recovery.
    • T2 chip data recovery.

7. Cisdem Data Recovery for Mac

Cisdem provides a range of recovery solutions with a focus on user experience. It’s efficient and supports multiple file formats.

  • Features:
    • Five recovery modes.
    • Preview before recovery.
    • High recovery rate.
    • External device support.

8. Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery

Lazesoft is a free option that offers a comprehensive approach to data recovery. It’s designed to be user-friendly and efficient.

  • Features:
    • Supports a wide range of devices.
    • Unlimited data recovery.
    • Deep scan capabilities.
    • File preview option.

9. Tenorshare 4DDiG

Tenorshare 4DDiG is known for its ability to recover a wide variety of file types. It offers a comprehensive solution to data loss scenarios.

  • Features:
    • Recovers lost or deleted photos, videos, documents, and more.
    • Supports APFS, HFS+, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, etc.
    • RAID recovery.
    • Bootable recovery from crashed or unbootable systems.

10. 7-Data Recovery

7-Data Recovery offers solutions for a range of data loss scenarios. It’s designed to be efficient and user-friendly.

  • Features:
    • Digital photo recovery.
    • Mobile phone recovery on Windows.
    • Complete recovery from local and external drives.
    • Memory card recovery.

It’s always recommended to research and read user reviews before selecting a software solution. Additionally, always ensure you have a backup of your data to prevent any further data loss.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Data Loss

The old adage “Prevention is better than cure” rings especially true here. Regular backups, be it manual or automated, are your first line of defense against data loss.

Cloud storage solutions, such as Google Drive or Dropbox, act as additional safety nets, ensuring your data’s safety even if your primary storage fails.


While data loss can be a daunting experience, with the right tools and knowledge, recovery is attainable.

Always prioritize regular backups and exercise caution when dealing with the Trash. Remember, your data is invaluable; safeguard it with unwavering vigilance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I recover files after emptying the trash folder?

Yes, with the right tools and methods, recovery is achievable.

How long does Time Machine keep backups?

It retains hourly backups for 24 hours, daily ones for a month, and weekly backups indefinitely.

Are third-party recovery tools safe?

While many are reliable, it’s always prudent to research and opt for reputable software.

What if I don’t have a backup?

Resorting to third-party software or professional services might be your best course of action.

How can I avoid accidental data deletion?

Regular backups and exercising caution when deleting files can significantly reduce risks.

Is professional data recovery costly?

Costs can vary, but it’s often a worthwhile investment, especially for critical data.

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