How to Recover Files Disappeared from Mac

How to Recover Files Disappeared from Mac

 Looking for your recently worked documents on Mac but can’t find them and time is running out and you are losing your patience? We understand what you are going through and will be able to help you before things get out of hand with this guide.

There are many ways you can recover deleted files on Mac regardless of the reasons behind their disappearance. The methods to fix Mac desktop files disappeared we are about to discuss should quickly get you out of the situation. If this is an emergency, be careful to choose a method that combines agility and data safety aspects to ensure you are not compromising your files any further. 

But, Why Did My Files Disappear on Mac? 

You may need to step back and find out why your files disappeared in the first place. Or, if you think you know some of the most likely reasons, then how can you handle the situation so that you do not waste more time fumbling between one possible fix and another. Below are some of the possible reasons behind the disappearance of files from your Mac.

  • Accidental deletion: You may have deleted the files accidentally while clearing some data from your Mac. If you performed some delete actions before your files disappeared, you may need to check the Trash bin really quickly. 
  • Virus attack: Virus attacks cause massive data losses on Mac and Windows PC. If this is the case, you need a powerful data recovery software to restore lost files. 
  • Wrong Sync settings on iCloud Drive: If your settings are set to keep documents on iCloud, you may start noticing files disappearing from Mac. Check and change these preferences on iCloud settings and recover your files.
  • Changing the location of files: Still, you may have changed the name of your folder or just switched the location of your files. Check the trash or use undo command to see if your files can be recovered. 

How to Recover Files Disappeared from Mac

Method 1: Unhide Settings in Finder 

It is very easy to organize your files on Mac with macOS finder. To find disappeared files, you may need to unhide the file setting following the procedure below. 

Step 1: Hit the Apple logo on your screen and click “Force quit” followed by “Finder” and finally “Relaunch.” You can also directly tap on the Finder appearing in the bottom menu to launch

Step 2: Open Mac HD folder.

Step 3: Press Command + Shift +. (Dot) to restore lost data. 

Note that you can easily use this method in application, documents and even folders. 

Method 2: Find Files through Stack 

You will need to enable the stack feature on Mac. When you click on the stack, it expands and you will be able to see all its content on the desktop. In order to find disappeared files, follow the steps below.

Step 1: Hit “View” from the top of your desktop then choose “Use stacks.”

Step 2: Find the missing folder and send it back to its original location.

Remember, this method only recovers disappeared files that have been hidden and not deleted. Read on to find out more ways to restore files on macOS. You probably lost the files through accidental deletion or even corruption. 

Method 3: Restore from Backup

Backup is an easy way to recover disappeared files on Mac. If you were working on a document and it suddenly becomes missing, turn to backup immediately. This means you will need an active backup system before you can use the method.

Besides, there are many backup options Mac users can utilize. Common ones being iCloud backup and Google Drive. If you use either, sign in to your account using the right credentials. Once you are signed in to the backup account, choose the files that you have lost and intend to restore. 

While on iCloud, you can choose to “Restore” the files you have selected. However, if your backup is in Google Drive, you will need to “Download” your selection. 

Method 4: Restore Disappeared Files from Time Machine Backup

Time machine is the other form of backup you will need to recover files from Macintosh. It is a tool built-in on your Mac and supports file recovery by automatically backing up your entire system. The backup can either be done on an external hard drive or a network storage device. 

Like other backup systems, Time Machine backup must be enabled on Mac before it can be used for file recovery. If you did this before, follow the steps below to recover the disappeared files.

  • Step 1: Connect the external hard drive or network storage device where the Time Machine backup was done.
  • Step 2: Open the Finder window and navigate to where the deleted files were stored.
  • Step 3: Hit the Time Machine icon in the menu bar to launch. You can also launch Time Machine from the Applications folder.
  • Step 4: Use the arrows or timeline on the right side of the screen to navigate to the date and time when your disappeared files were still available.
  • Step 5: Choose the files you need to restore and hit the “Restore” button to recover them.

Method 5: Recover Disappeared Files with Disk Drill 

If all the previous methods cannot find and recover your disappeared files on Mac, then it may be the right time to deploy a data recovery software. Disk Drill by CleverFiles has a good name for being the most efficient, effective and successful app for lost data recovery. 

Download the software from the official website, install it on your Mac and proceed with data recovery as shown below. 

  • Step 1: Launch the software and hit Scan to initiate the scanning process. This action allows the software to search your Mac for lost data. The tool allows you to preview the files as the scanning process runs to ensure you can recover deleted files and the disappeared ones as fast as possible rather than wait for the tool to scan through the stored files
  • Step 2: Preview the files that have been found. 
  • Step 3: Tap “Recover” to restore the files to your Mac. You should also remember to change the location in case you feel something wrong could happen again. 


Recovering disappeared files and folders is easy. No matter the situation, the methods we have described will really help. However, we suggest using software if you feel the files disappeared more mysteriously and require a better intervention.

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.