Recover Deleted Files from the Emptied Trash Bin on Mac

All computer users who use macOS machines are familiar with the Trash Bin. Whether you are using an older Macintosh or the newest MacBook Pro, the Trash Bin performs the same function on your computer. On any computer running the Mac OS X operating system, it is the location where files are stored temporarily after they are deleted from your machine. Files that are resident in the Trash Bin have not yet been physically removed from your file system.
Once a file is deleted from the Trash Bin, such as when you empty it to reclaim some storage space on your hard drive, you might think it is gone forever. But this is not always the case. You can recover deleted files from an emptied trash bin.

When you first empty the Trash, the operating system simply marks the space that the files formerly occupied as available for reuse. The files are still physically on the disk, though no longer logically accessible through the operating system. As long as the files are not overwritten, there is a good chance that they can be recovered.

5 Ways to Recover Deleted Files from an Emptied Trash Bin

#1 Make Sure the File was Actually Deleted

While your first instinct may be to panic when you think you have lost an important file, a systematic search for your file will often produce successful results. Perhaps you were working on a file and accidentally deleted it. You look in the Finder app and it is not in the folder where it should be located. Here’s how to try and find it.

The first place to look is in the Trash Bin. Click on the Trash Bin icon on your desktop to display its contents. If you see the file here’s how to recover trash on your Mac. Simply click on the file name and choose the "Put Back" option. The file will be returned to its original location and removed from the Trash. You can verify this by using Finder again and viewing the file.
Recover deleted files on Mac
Other ways to search your computer may turn up a missing file. You may have inadvertently moved it to a different location, perhaps even to the cloud. A Spotlight search or employing the Siri digital assistant will quickly help you determine if the file is simply misplaced or really deleted. If it has been deleted, then keep reading and we will look at some ways to get it back.

#2 Restore From a Time Machine Backup

The Time Machine application is Apple’s backup solution for the Mac. Using it should become a regular part of your computer maintenance schedule and performing periodic backups through the app can be critical if you find you have deleted a file.

Once you have determined that you have indeed deleted a file and it is no longer in the Trash Bin, you can restore it from your Time Machine backup. This is a fairly easy operation that begins with you attaching the external device that you have been using to hold your Time Machine backups.
How to recover deleted files on Mac
When the storage device is connected, fire up Time Machine and open a Finder window to the location where you last remember seeing the file. Now, as you scroll back in time through Time Machine, the file will appear in the Finder window when you get back to a point-in-time before your file was deleted. When your file is found, click the Restore button to have it returned to its original location.

#3 Use Third-Party Data Recovery Software

If you need to recover lost data from a computer or storage device for which you have no backup, you will need to employ dedicated data recovery software. Disk Drill is an excellent data recovery application that can answer the question of how to recover deleted files on your Mac.

To recover deleted files from emptied Trash on Mac you'll need to do the next:

1. Download Disk Drill for Mac

When performing data recovery you want to eliminate as much activity as you can from the disk where the deleted file or files formerly resided. This means that you want to download and install Disk Drill or any other data recovery package on a different drive or partition than the one used for the recovery.
Download Disk Drill for Mac

2. Install Disk Drill for Mac

Install the application and supply it with your Administrator’s password when prompted. The app needs this level of access to perform its functions. Now start up the application.
Install Disk Drill for Mac

3. Scan for Files Deleted from Recycle Bin

Scan your disk to allow Disk Drill to locate the files that have been deleted from the Trash. Try a Quick scan first but if you don’t get the expected results use Disk Drill’s Deep scan capabilities that will search your disk bit by bit.
Recover deleted files from emptied trash bin

4. Preview the Found Files

Preview the found files in Disk Drill’s main window. You can select the files that you want to recover and the location in which to recover them. We emphasize again that you need to recover the files to a new location so as not to overwrite them during the recovery process.
How to restore deleted files on mac

5. Recover your files

Clicking the “Recover” button will restore the files previously identified in the preview to your desired location. Now you can thank the developers at Disk Drill for saving your precious data.

Recover Files from Recycle Bin on Windows
How to recover trash on mac

#4 Recover Deleted Files From a Backup

There are other ways besides Time Machine to backup your files. You can purchase third-party backup products or just copy folders and files to an external disk or cloud storage. Then, when the need arises, just attach your peripheral storage device and copy the deleted files back to your hard drive.

Guarding Against Data Loss

You probably have noticed that backing up your data is an important strategy in enabling you to recover from data loss events. Regular backups are considered best practice for all computer users. If you value your data, make sure you regularly take a backup of your system, whether it is to the cloud or an externals storage device.

In addition to the backup methods discussed above, Disk Drill offers a byte-by-byte disk image that is essentially an exact copy of your drive. This type of backup is especially helpful when recovering from a catastrophic disk failure.

Disk Drill also offers additional data protection with its Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery options. To enable these functions you need to have the application installed and running on your system before the data loss occurs. Disk Drill retains metadata related to deleted files and makes it possible to quickly recover files that are accidentally deleted from your machine.
Recovery Vault

#5 How to Recover Deleted Files on a Mac Using iTunes

When you delete an iTunes music file you can move it to the Trash or remove it from your iTunes library. If you simply removed it from the library, it still exists and can be found in Finder at ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media. You can navigate there and drag the file to your iTunes icon and add it back to your library.
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