Mac Photo Recovery: How to Retrieve Deleted Pictures

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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."

Have you ever accidentally deleted important photos from your Mac? The feeling of panic and regret can be overwhelming.

Mac photo recovery how to retrieve deleted pictures

In this article, we will demonstrate how you can use the right tools and techniques to recover those permanently deleted photos and save yourself from heartache.

What Causes Photos to be Lost or Deleted?

Photos can be lost or deleted on Mac due to various causes. Accidental deletion is one common reason, where users mistakenly delete their photos. Technical factors like system crashes, software glitches, or compatibility issues can also lead to photo loss. Issues with macOS updates or disk errors can contribute to this as well.

Utilizing the ‘Recently Deleted’ Album (Photos app) Mac Trash Bin”

Accidental deletions of cherished photos need not be irreversible for Mac users, thanks to the robust recovery options provided by macOS. One such feature is the “Recently Deleted” album in the Photos app, designed to act as a safety net.

This album serves as a temporary repository for deleted photos, preserving them for a period of 30 days. This grants users a convenient window of opportunity to retrieve their lost images. Additionally, Mac’s Trash Bin retains deleted files until manually cleared, offering another layer of recovery for those inadvertent deletions.

Time Machine: A Powerful Recovery Tool for Mac Users

Moreover, for a more comprehensive recovery approach, Mac users can harness the power of Time Machine, an integral built-in backup tool. Time Machine diligently creates regular backups of the entire system, encompassing valuable photos, among other crucial files. Should a deletion occur, users can enter the Time Machine interface and choose the desired backup date to initiate the recovery process.

This powerful tool serves as a reliable safety net for not just accidental deletions, but also unforeseen technical issues or system errors that may lead to photo loss. Regularly backing up photos to external drives or cloud storage is a prudent practice, serving as an added layer of protection against unforeseen circumstances.

By familiarizing themselves with these recovery features and implementing regular backups, Mac users can confidently navigate the digital landscape, knowing that their precious memories are safeguarded.

Recovering Photos from Common Storage Devices

Accidentally losing precious photos can be a heart-wrenching experience. Whether it’s due to a malware infection, accidental deletion, or a faulty memory card, the thought of losing those irreplaceable memories can be devastating.

Fortunately, there are solutions available to recover deleted photos on Mac from common storage devices. By using reliable photo recovery software, users can easily retrieve their lost or deleted photos from external drives, USB drives, and even digital cameras.

These recovery tools are designed to scan the storage device for recoverable files and allow users to selectively restore their valuable photos. With a few simple steps, you can recover your cherished moments and bring them back to life. So, let’s explore how to recover deleted photos from common storage devices on a Mac.

Internal and External Hard Drives

When it comes to recovering deleted photos on a Mac, it’s important to understand the process for both internal and external hard drives. To start, users should launch a reliable Mac digital photo recovery program. This software allows users to recover deleted photos from their internal or external hard drives.

To begin the recovery process, users need to select the specific hard drive where the deleted photos were originally stored. This could be either an internal hard drive within the Mac itself or an external hard drive connected to the computer.

By selecting the appropriate hard drive, users can scan for and recover the deleted photos. The Mac digital photo recovery program will scan the selected hard drive for any recoverable files and present a list of deleted photos that can be retrieved.

Whether the photos were accidentally deleted, lost due to a malfunction, or got corrupted, the photo recovery program has the ability to restore them. With just a few simple steps, users can recover their valuable memories from their internal and external hard drives.

USB Flash Drives

If you have accidentally formatted a USB flash drive on your Mac and lost important photos, don’t worry! There is a way to recover them. With the help of photo recovery software, you can easily retrieve your precious memories.

To start the recovery process, connect the formatted USB flash drive to your Mac system. Next, download and install a reliable photo recovery software such as Stellar Photo Recovery or Disk Drill Photo Recovery. These programs are designed specifically for Mac users and provide efficient recovery solutions.

Once installed, open the photo recovery software and select the formatted USB flash drive from the list of available drives. Then, initiate the scanning process. The software will carefully scan the drive and locate the deleted photos.

After the scan is complete, the software will provide a preview of the recoverable photos. You can then select the desired photos for recovery and specify a destination on your Mac to save them.

By following these simple steps, you can easily recover photos from a formatted USB flash drive on your Mac. Just remember to act quickly and avoid using the drive until the recovery process is complete, as this increases the chances of successful recovery.

Memory Cards

If you are encountering error messages such as ‘REINSERT THE MEMORY CARD’ or ‘Memory Card Error’ when trying to access your memory card on your camera or computer, there are steps you can take to recover your images.

First, try formatting the memory card within your camera or updating its firmware. This can sometimes resolve the issue and allow you to access your images again. Be aware, though, that formatting will erase all data on the card, so make sure to back up your files if possible.

If formatting or firmware updates do not solve the problem and you still cannot access your photos, it is recommended to use a specialized photo recovery software like Stellar Photo Recovery Mac Software. This software is designed to recover deleted or inaccessible photos from various storage devices, including memory cards.

To use Stellar Photo Recovery, simply download and install the software on your Mac, insert the memory card into your computer’s card reader, and launch the program. Select the memory card as the target location for recovery and initiate the scanning process. The software will then search for and display the recoverable photos.

From there, you can preview the found photos and select the ones you want to recover. Choose a safe location on your Mac to save the recovered files, as saving them back to the same memory card is not recommended.

With Stellar Photo Recovery Mac Software, you have a reliable solution to recover your photos from memory cards displaying errors, ensuring that your precious memories are not lost.

Cloud Storage Services (e.g. iCloud)

Cloud Storage Services, such as iCloud, provide a convenient way for users to store and access their files, including photos. If you have accidentally deleted photos from your iCloud, don’t worry! iCloud has a built-in feature called “Recently Deleted” that preserves your deleted photos for 30 days before they are permanently removed.

To recover deleted photos from iCloud, follow these simple steps:

1. Visit the iCloud website and sign in with your iCloud credentials.

2. Once signed in, navigate to the “Photos” section.

3. In the “Photos” section, you will find the “Recently Deleted” album.

4. Open the “Recently Deleted” album to view all the photos that have been deleted within the last 30 days.

5. Select the photos you want to recover by clicking on each photo or using the “Select” option.

6. After selecting the desired photos, click on the “Recover” button to restore them back to your iCloud library.

By following these steps, you can easily recover your deleted photos from iCloud and ensure that your precious memories are not permanently lost. Take advantage of the “Recently Deleted” album feature in iCloud to safeguard your photos and recover them whenever needed.

Choosing the Best Photo Recovery Software for Your Needs

Choosing the best photo recovery software is essential when it comes to retrieving your precious memories and valuable photos. Accidental deletions, virus attacks, or hardware failures can lead to the loss of these precious files, making it crucial to have reliable recovery software at hand.

However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to determine which software is the best fit for your needs.

Features to Look For in a Photo Recovery Program

When selecting a photo recovery program, there are several features to consider to ensure effective and thorough recovery.

Firstly, it’s important to choose a program that supports a wide range of file formats. This ensures that you can recover not only photos but also other media files like videos and audio files.

Compatibility with different storage devices is another essential feature to look for. Whether you need to recover photos from your computer’s hard drive, a memory card, USB drive, or external storage devices, the program should be able to handle it all.

Ease of use is also crucial, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. Look for a program with a user-friendly interface and simple steps for photo recovery.

Preview options are another important feature to consider. Being able to preview the recoverable photos before actually recovering them allows you to select exactly what you need and avoid unnecessary clutter.

Lastly, pay attention to the recovery success rate. A reliable program should have a high success rate in recovering photos from various loss scenarios, such as accidental deletions, disk failures, virus attacks, and more.

Taking into account these features will help you find a photo recovery program that meets your needs and ensures the safe and efficient retrieval of your precious memories.


Understanding the causes of photo loss and making use of macOS features like “Recently Deleted” and Time Machine can act as a safety net. Specialized photo recovery software offers a lifeline for common storage devices, while cloud services like iCloud provide a grace period for mistaken deletions.

When choosing recovery software, factors like file format support, device compatibility, user-friendliness, preview options, and success rates are crucial. With a proactive approach and familiarity with recovery processes, the heartache of accidental deletions can be transformed into a sigh of relief, ensuring that every lost photo finds its way back into the album of memories.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the “Recently Deleted” album in the Photos app help in photo recovery?

The “Recently Deleted” album is a feature provided by macOS that temporarily stores deleted photos for 30 days, allowing users to easily recover them within that period.

How does Time Machine assist in recovering permanently deleted photos on Mac?

Time Machine, a built-in backup tool, creates regular backups of your system, including photos. By accessing Time Machine and selecting the desired backup date, users can retrieve permanently deleted photos.

What steps can I take to recover photos from a formatted USB flash drive on my Mac?

To recover photos from a formatted USB flash drive, connect the drive to your Mac, use reliable photo recovery software (e.g., Stellar Photo Recovery), select the drive, initiate the scan, preview recoverable photos, and select a safe location to save them.

How can I recover photos from a memory card displaying error messages like ‘REINSERT THE MEMORY CARD’?

Try formatting the memory card within your camera or updating its firmware. If this doesn’t work, use specialized photo recovery software like Stellar Photo Recovery Mac Software to recover the inaccessible photos.

What features should I consider when choosing photo recovery software for Mac?

When selecting photo recovery software, consider features like support for various file formats, compatibility with different storage devices, ease of use, preview options, and a high success rate in recovering photos from different loss scenarios.

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