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Can’t find it anywhere? Here’s how to recover deleted files

How to recover deleted files on Mac OS X

Step 1: Take it easy on the computing. The less you use your machine, the better your odds of recovering your deleted files. Downloading and saving files should be avoided as much as possible as it increases the likelihood of your Mac overwriting the file with new information that may prove detrimental to your cause.

Step 2: Double check. If you haven’t done so already, double check the file’s original location as well as the Trash to ensure you didn’t merely overlook it. If found in the Trash, right-click or control-click a file and select Put Back to restore the file to its original location, or simply drag and drop the file outside to a new location.

Data Recovery 3 logoStep 3: Choose, download, and install recovery software. While it may be true that there is plenty of capable recovery software available for Windows, Mac OS X isn’t as fortunate in terms of freemium software. We therefore recommend Data Recovery III ($100) given its nicely-design interface, moderately-quick scans, and various recovery options. Files are individually listed, whether recoverable or overwritten, and they can be restored in a matter of clicks. Alternatively, check out Stellar Phoenix Mac Data Recovery ($100) or Disk Drill ($90) if you’re looking for advanced data protection, intensive raw recovery, or an overall more robust feature set.

The bulk of the software works in a similar manner, scanning your selected drive and curating a list of potentially recoverable files, but there are a few slight differences between software programs and various versions. For our purposes, we will be using Data Recovery III as the basis for the rest of the guide. It’s costly, but you can always download the free demo and recover a single file of 10MB or less.

Step 4: Launch the software: Once installed, navigate to and launch the recovery software by clicking the Finder icon in the Dock – its icon depicts a blue, square face – and selecting the program from within the main Applications folder on the left-hand side of the window. In Data Recovery III, you will be greeted by a welcome page prompting you to enter your activation code or select the demo.

Step 5: Start new scan. Once activated, select Start New Scan from the list of scan options or choose one of the two alternative options for resuming or reviewing previous scans.

Data Rescue 3

Step 6: Select drive and task. Select the your Mac’s internal boot drive or choose another drive you’d like scanned, and click the gray Next button in the bottom-right corner when finished. Then, select the Deleted Files Scan option and click the gray Start button in the bottom-right corner to begin thoroughly combing your hard drive for any recently deleted files.

Deleted Files Scan Data Rescue 3

Step 7:  Recover the deleted files. When finished scanning,  peruse the pop-up window displaying the newly discovered files for the ones in question. The list will primarily consist of basic system files pertaining to your computer’s operation, but there will also be an assorted mix of other files mixed within the batch of simple navigational folders and various files. Check the boxes on the left-hand side next to the files you wish to recover, click the gray Recover button in the bottom-right corner and select the save location for the newly recovered file from the pop-up window. Click the gray Open button in the bottom-right corner followed by the black OK button when the file appears once the recovery is complete.

Data Rescue Find and Select Files

What did you think of our bare bones guide on how to recover deleted files? Do know of better software – free or premium – for either OS? Let us know in the comments below.

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