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Recovering Files from an Emptied Trash Can on Macs

recover data from macYou know the feeling–you’ve Life: been working hard on a project or paper but it just won’t come together the way you want it to. In a fit of frustration you say “screw it” and junk the whole thing. Throw it right into the recycling bin and then, for good measure, empty the recycling bin just to make sure that god-awful document never sees the digital light of day again. Unfortunately, the next day, after some careful reflection and maybe some time with a therapist, you realize that what you had on your now-deleted file wasn’t all that bad. In fact, it was even alright and you wouldn’t mind having it right about now so that Introduce you didn’t have to start from scratch.


But of course, you threw it away. And once you cast a document into that bottomless chasm known as the recycling bin, there’s no turning back, right?

Well, fortunately, nothing is really permanent when it comes file recovery on a Mac. You can start out by double-checking your back-up files–you really should create back up files for everything. Or perhaps you just emailed an earlier draft of the work to someone?

If none of these things are true, you’re still not out of hope. Like a hungry raccoon, you too can learn how to rummage through your trash to recover neglected treasures previously considered waste.

Generally, what you have to do is download third-party software, of which there is a huge variety. If you simply google “file recovery Mac”, or “how to recover lost files on a Mac“, or “data recovery for Mac” you will find a long list of software, some of it free and some of it not, that will help you dig through your trash.

When searching for this software, make sure to take your time and do your research. Once you’ve made a list of a few programs that seem to meet your needs (many of them work almost the exact same way and have only nominal differences in their operation), look up a few reviews. Some programs will clog up your computer or give you spam and some of them just plain don’t work well.

Once you’ve chosen your software and installed it, You will usually have an option to scan for lost files.

This is where a little forethought can go a long way. If you’ve lost data, especially if you’ve lost data due to some sort of malfunction–try not to use the disk on which that file existed. The more you use a particular disk of your hard drive, the more you are fogging it up with extra data that will hamper the software’s ability to find what you’re looking for.

Ok, so you’ve carefully avoided the disk you’re looking for, you’ve scanned your computer and now you’re staring at a list of misfit files. How do you know which one is the right one?

Well, many programs come with a preview feature that will let you see a piece of the file or document. This won’t always be the case and some files you won’t be able to preview, but generally speaking it should be a useful way to make sure you’re recovering the data you want and not the actual junk!

After that it’s as simple as telling the software to recover the data. Now, unfortunately, many files lose their filenames when recovered, so on occasions, you may recover something and then have difficulty finding it on your computer’s drive. In these cases, try not to search according to files previous name, as it may be erased.

And that’s it! It’s a simple process and in most cases fairly painless. The hardest for part is choosing the software and finding the file once you’ve recovered.

So the next time you toss something and experience immediate and soul-crushing regret, just stop, take a breath and start scanning .

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