How to Recover Permanently Deleted Photos from Mac [5 Methods]

Last Updated on March 17, 2023 by Ian McEwan

Photographs are memories that people hold on to long after an event has passed. Not surprisingly, it could get frustrating if you found out that one or more of the photos stored on your Mac has been accidentally deleted. While it is easy to retrieve a photo if you have lazily moved to the system trash, it could be a lot painful to get it back if you have deleted it permanently. All is not lost, however, and there are still some tricks you could try to get your precious memories back. A few methods outlined below would help you understand how to recover permanently deleted photos from Mac.

how to recover permanently deleted photos from mac

1.Time Machine

No, it is not a science fiction machine that helps you time travel. Rather, it is a built-in tool for your Mac that is so named because using it could help you restore your files to the last backed-up date. This process is useful if you have permanently deleted your photos from mac after the last backup was executed. The steps that will allow you to achieve this feat are as below.

  1. SelectEnter Time Machine‘ from the menu bar shortcut.
  2. Go to the date that you think is the one before you deleted the photos
  3. Proceed to your Home drive from ‘Finder
  4. Go toPictures‘ and look for the photo library file
  5. Copy the library file and exit the ‘Time Machine
  6. Proceed to your main ‘Pictures‘ folder, and paste the library file
  7. Right-click the library folder to select ‘Show Package Contents
  8. Open the ‘Masters‘ folder and look through the contents to recover the lost photos
A Handy Tip: In step ‘e‘ above, you could choose to directly recover the photo library, but doing so would overwrite your newer photos that you might have stored after the backup. If you are certain you have not stored any new photos, this is the quickest way to get your deleted photos back.


2.Photos App

If you have deleted the photos from your Mac’s ‘Photos‘ App, they will still be available under ‘Recently Deleted‘ for 30 days. Follow the steps below to recover those lost photos using this simple method.

  1. When you open ‘Photos‘, you would be able to select ‘Recently Deleted‘ from the list of albums.
  2. Look for and select the photos you have lost.
  3. HitRecover‘ on the top right, and smile, you got your cherished memories back.

Useful Tip: If you have photos stored in iCloud, and have accidentally deleted them, you could use the same steps as above to recover the photos, as iCloud provides you with a 30-day grace period as well.



Although Apple officially discontinued this app on Macintosh computers back in 2015, if you have an older system you might still be using it. If you have deleted photos from iPhoto, luckily there is a simple recovery process, as mentioned in the steps below.

  1. Open iPhoto Trash from the iPhoto App (this is different from the main OS trash)
  2. Select your lost photo and hit ‘Put Back
  3. On the sidebar, clickPhotos‘ to restore the lost photo to the iPhoto library.



This is an indirect way to retrieve permanently deleted photos and works only if you have shared the said photos with a person on your list. If you remember the person, open iMessage on your Mac to browse through conversations to look for the photos. If located, copy them back to your Photos library.


5.Photo Recovery Software

If all else fails, or you find the in-built mechanisms to retrieve photos too tedious, you could always invest in a third-party Photo recovery software that does the job for you quickly. Most of these third-party tools scan your entire system for photos and help you identify the permanently deleted ones without much effort on your part. However, they come at a price. Also, be sure to always look for reliable software if you choose to go through this process.

List of the most famous Photos recovery software to help recover permanently deleted photos from Mac.


Photo/Videos Recovery for Mac



  • Handle the problems of lost data easily: Accidentally Delete, Formatted Drive, Hard Disk Damage, System Crashed, Virus Attack, System Interrupts, Unexpected Power off and other improper operation.
  • Recover all Lost/ Deleted/ Formatted/ Corrupted Files, including Documents, Pictures, Video, Audio, Email and other files from Computer and other storage devices with NTFS, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT, EXT file system.

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Mac Download
Win Download
Mac Download



  • Recover all lost, deleted, formatted photos, videos and more from all storage devices and crashed or unbootable Windows/ Mac systems.
  • All major graphic formats including images created or edited by photo-editing software and photos created by cameras, screenshots. – up to 700 file types are supported.

Win Download
Mac Download
Win Download
Mac Download


Data Recovery Wizard

  • Free to recover 2GB data.
  • Recover deleted/ formatted data from different data loss situations.
  • Support recovering from Time Machine backup drive.
  • Create a bootable USB for data recovery for Free.

Win Download
Mac Download
Win Download
Mac Download
Get Free Trial via Email for Later Download on Computer


Stellar Phoenix Photo Recovery

  • Recovers Digital Images and videos in 3-simple clicks.
  • Restores deleted pictures with original date-timestamp and file names.
  • Works with all cards & HDD – SanDisk, Kingston, Samsung, Seagate.
  • Supports All Action & Drone cameras like GoPro, Garmin, Phantom.

Win Download
Mac Download
Win Download
Mac Download
Get Free Trial via Email for Later Download on Computer



  • Restore deleted, lost, corrupted or formatted photos/videos from any storage device.
  • Over 1000+ file types are supported.
  • Address all data loss scenarios: emptied trash, accidentally deleted data, partition error, virus attack, and formatted device, etc.

Win Download
Mac Download
Win Download
Mac Download
Get Free Trial via Email for Later Download on Computer


No memories are truly lost if you have the will to find them. Before panicking or giving up on your lost photos, try some of the methods above to see if you can recover the accidental loss of images that reflect as souvenirs of days well spent.

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