Folder Recovery on Mac: How to Recover Deleted Folders

Folder Recovery on Mac: How to Recover Deleted Folders

Deleting files and folders from Mac can be a fun venture especially when you want to clear unused folders to create more space for important ones. Until you find out you have just deleted the wrong folder, things might just feel very ok. But now you have cleared some of your very crucial documents and you must perform data recovery on the entire folder in Mac to feel safe again. Where do you start?

Actually, many people have experienced this before. As much as it was so devastating and a few people got sweaty out of it, there are many techniques for successful recovery of deleted folders on Mac you can use to save the situation. Folder recovery on mac is possible and we will let you know how. 

What Does a Mac Folder Look Like?

If you use Mac quite often, then you understand how the mac folder structure looks like. However, if you were just starting your journey with Mac, you should not worry either. 

First, the Mac directory structure is made up of four main folders. 

  • Applications: The applications folder stores all your Mac applications. You will not find it very easy to delete this folder. More likely, therefore, it is not this folder you deleted. However, if it happens so, you can still get it back from Time machine backup. 
  • Library: macOS and apps store their data, settings, cache etc. in this folder. Although this folder can be easily deleted, your apps may stop working correctly. Do not worry either as you can still restore it from Time Machine backup.
  • System: macOS uses this folder to hold certain crucial files required for its operation. If you ever delete this folder by accident or something else happens to it, you may need to reinstall macOS. 
  • Users: All your movies, music, documents, photos among other personal documents are saved here. You most likely deleted this folder or data from it. We will show you how to proceed with recovery. 

How to Recover Deleted Folders on Mac

Method 1: Use Mac Data Recovery Software

Recovering a folder containing very important files should be taken seriously. That is why you do not need software with less than 100% recovery chances. Disk Drill developed by CleverFiles is one special Mac recovery software that gives you more surety with all your recovery jobs. 

With just one click, the software will scan the entire Mac for lost folders and reveal all your recoverable folders. Whether the folder had videos, audio, documents, photos etc., you are good to go. 

Why do we choose this data recovery for PC and Mac? 

  • User-friendly 
  • Data safety
  • File preview
  • Quick process 
  • Deep scan 

Step 1: Download and install the software

Step 2: Launch the software and tap “Search for lost data.”

Step 3: Preview the scan results and select files that were in the folder. Note that the tool sorts all your files according to type and format.

Step 4: Choose your preferred storage destination and click “Next.”

Method 2: Recover from Trash Bin 

Mac Trash is another culprit for deleted folders. You may not have thought of it earlier, but all deleted folders are generally sent into the trash folder before they are permanently cleared from Mac. 

If your folder was not permanently deleted, find it in trash and recover deleted files as below. 

  • Open the trash bin, locate the folder, then drag it out with a click, hold and drag action.
  • If you are not so sure, highlight the folder you intend to restore, then tap on the “Put back” option to restore.
  • Also, you can restore the folder by selecting the folder, choosing “edit,” copying its name, and pasting it back. 

Method 3: Recover from Backup or Time Machine 

Time Machine is a unique tool in Mac that is specially designed to help you recover files and folders deleted by mistake. This is because backups make it very easy and simple to restore lost data. 

Of course, it is not automatic that backup will help you restore files if you had not created one earlier. However, if you had Time Machine backup before deleting the folder, follow this guide on recovering files from Time machine. Below are the steps. 

Step 1: Connect the Time Machine backup drive to the mac.

Step 2: Open the folder where the lost folder was backed up.
Step 3: Hit the Time Machine icon and choose “Enter Time machine.” 

Step 4: Using the timeline on the right edge of the screen, locate the folder to be recovered.

Step 5: Click “Restore.”

Method 4: Recover with Terminal

Terminal is another useful way to recover deleted folders on Mac. The method is very crucial if your Mac does not boot properly but you seriously need to recover the deleted folder. Below is how to carry out the challenge successfully.

Step 1: Launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities.

Step 2: Enter “cd.Trash” to launch the trash folder. 

Step 3: Enter “ls -al ~/. Trash” to view contents of the trash folder.

Step 4: Enter “mv folder ../” replacing the “folder” with the exact name of the folder you want to recover. 

Method 5: Recover with Undo

You may have just deleted your folder, not permanently of course. If this happened just a few minutes ago, the undo command will save you straight and fast. Tap the command + Z on your keyboard to retrieve the folder immediately. 

Method 6: Recover with Cloud Backup 

You might have tried all the options above and are still struggling with the process. If you ever activated any cloud backup, then this could be the right time to use them. Depending on the cloud backup used, whether iCloud or Google Drive, log into your account with your credentials to initiate folder restore. 


There are many ways to recover deleted folders on Mac, as you can see. The success depends on how quick you move and your choice of the recovery method. We recommend you choose the best data recovery software if all other methods fail. Good luck!

Santos Cruickshank

Santos Cruickshank

With years of software development experience under his belt, Santos Cruickshank has always been passionate about learning about different kinds of software for PC and apps for smartphones. Santos Cruickshank has been one of the lead developers for Slack back in 2017 and now works as a freelance software developer. Apart from that, he also loves to write and educate people about software development and how to use them.