Top 7 Free File Recovery Software for Mac OS X

Not all files can be replaced - at least not easily. But if you’ve lost or accidentally deleted an irreplaceable file, not all hope is lost just yet. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to get it back using one of the top 7 free file recovery software for Mac OS X described in this article.
last update icon Updated on:Aug 4, 2022
Jeffrey Cochin
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1. Disk Drill for Mac

Best overall

Disk Drill is a complete data recovery package designed to quickly and painlessly recover deleted partitions or deleted files from your Mac’s internal drives as well as various peripherals, including iOS and Android devices.


Disk Drill preview files

Overall Experience:


There are many file recovery software solutions for Mac, but only a few feel like true Mac apps. And out of those that are designed in accordance with Apple’s GUI guidelines, a small fraction delivers satisfactory results. Disk Drill is the best free file recovery software for Mac because it offers professional data recovery features in a sleek package.


With Disk Drill, it doesn’t matter what type of file you want to recover and from which device. This file recovery software supports hundreds of file formats and all commonly used storage devices, including Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.


Disk Drill iPhone recovery process

Regardless of whether you need to recover a single document from your system drive or thousands of pictures from a memory card, it always takes just one click on the Recover button to get the job done. To reassure you that you’re recovering the right files, Disk Drill can preview the same file formats as your Mac.


To recover deleted files on Mac using Disk Drill, you need to:


  1. Download and install Disk Drill for Mac.
  2. Launch the application and locate the storage device from which you want to recover deleted files.
  3. Select the storage device, then click Search for lost data at the bottom-right corner of the window.
  4. Preview recoverable files and select a new storage location for restored data.
  5. Click Recover again to perform the recovery.

Included for free in the basic version of Disk Drill are Recovery Vault and Guaranteed Recovery, two handy data protection features that allow Disk Drill to monitor your file deletion activity and retain metadata so that you can quickly and easily recover any deleted file with 100% success rate.


Advantages:

  • Deep scan of Macs with M1 and T2 chips
  • Supports hundreds of file formats
  • Restores data from Android and iOS devices
  • Time Machine scanning
  • Comes with extra free disk tools

Disadvantages:

  • The free version can only preview files

Supported Mac OSs: Mac OS X 10.6 and newer.


Supported Languages: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish.


Price: Free version allows only preview files.

Disk Drill PRO $89.00
Disk Drill Enterprise $499
Upgrade 50% OFF
Education 20% OFF
"A stressful afternon after losing photos from an event in Maple Leaf Gardens was saved by DISK DRILL. This is the easiest solution I found when I needed to recover my lost files." - trustpilot.com

2. TestDisk for Mac

Best free solution

TestDisk is a free and open-source file recovery software application created by Christophe Grenier. While its main purpose is to recover lost partitions and fix boot issues, it can also be used to recover deleted files.

TestDisk for Mac disk list

Overall Experience:


TestDisk is an open-source, freeware file recovery software application licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. It runs on many operating systems, including the newest versions of macOS (the users of macOS Catalina can install TestDisk via Homebrew, but there are some known issues). It was originally intended to recover lost partitions and fix boot issues, but its developers have gradually turned it into the multi-purpose file recovery software it is today.


Despite being completely free, TestDisk supports most file formats and file systems, including FAT16 and FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, HFS, HFS+, ext2/3/4, LVM and LVM2, ReiserFS, and others. Unfortunately, not all file systems are supported equally well, so some can be repaired and recovered, while others can only be scanned for lost partitions.


TestDisk for Mac select found partition

But the biggest limitation of TestDisk, at least for regular users, is its command-line user interface. Not that the interface is unreasonably complicated or unintuitive, but less experienced users tend to feel intimidated by it. If you’re among those who are afraid of command-line applications, we recommend you read the official documentation before you throw in the towel.


Advantages:

  • Open-source and free

  • Reliable recovery results

  • Runs on many platforms


Disadvantages:

  • Command-line user interface

  • Geared toward experienced users and professionals


Supported Mac OSs: Mac OS X 10.6 and newer.


Supported Languages: English.


Price: Free

"This data recovery and disk repair utility should be in everyone's toolbox. It is a useful and well-designed program that can perform many recovery and repair functions better than most commercial software." - alternativeto.net

3. iBoysoft Data Recovery

Best free trial

iBoysoft Data Recovery is a comprehensive and easy-to-use data recovery tool with versions available for Mac and Windows machines.


iBoysoft Data Recovery scan process

Overall Experience:


Recovering data with iBoysoft is a simple activity that can easily be performed by any Mac user. It involves an intuitive three-step process where you scan a selected device, preview its recoverable data, and choose what you want to recover. Scan results can be saved and reloaded, allowing you to complete data recovery at your leisure. A free download of the tool allows users to recover 1 GB of data and see how they like the product.


iBoysoft Data Recovery preview files

The tool supports over 1000 different file types for recovery covering virtually any data found on your Mac. It is compatible with just about all disk-based storage devices including external hard drives, removable USB storage devices, and SD cards. iBoysoft can help users recover from multiple data loss scenarios including accidentally formatting a disk, inadvertently deleting files, or emptying the Trash. It enables speedy data recovery on the newest Macs and MacBooks. iBoysoft provides professional-grade recovery capabilities in a tool designed to be easy enough for beginners to use.


Advantages:

  • Supports the APFS, HFS, HFSX, HFS+, FAT32, exFAT file systems
  • Compatible with all versions of macOS and Mac OS X operating systems
  • User-friendly interface and simple data recovery procedure
  • Supports over 1000 file formats including all popular media file types
  • Performs data recovery on Mac with a T2 security chip
  • Supports recovery from new Mac with Apple's M1 chip installed
  • Recovers files on a Mac hard drive that won’t boot using Recovery Mode

Disadvantages:

  • Licenses must be renewed yearly, making it more expensive than competitors
  • No support for RAID arrays

Supported Mac OSs: Mac OS X 10.9 and newer.


Supported Languages: English, French.


Price: Free version allows 1 GB recovery.

1-month license $89.95
1-year license $99.95
Lifetime license $169.95
"iBoysoft can recover files even from the recycle bin. What I like most is that I can run it on external memories and also on mobile devices." - g2.com

4. iSkysoft Data Recovery

Best design

File recovery is a complicated process, but iSkysoft Data Recovery makes it simple with its user-friendly interface and three-step recovery process.

iSkysoft Data Recovery main screen

Overall Experience:


iSkysoft Data Recovery supports any type of storage device that uses a common Mac, Windows, or Linux file system. It runs on Mac OS X 10.6 and newer and can be used to recover photos, documents, music files, and just about any other type of file found on your Mac.


One of the main goals of its developers is to make iSkysoft Data Recovery so intuitive that even users who have never recovered files before can launch it and instantly figure it out. We can say that this goal has been accomplished nearly perfectly. File recovery with iSkysoft Data Recovery requires just three simple steps, and the application makes it abundantly clear where you need to click next to get your files back.


iSkysoft Data Recovery preview files

With the free version of iSkysoft Data Recovery, you can recover up to 1 GB of data. To unlock unlimited recovery, you need to purchase one of the three available licenses, which start at $79.95.


Advantages:

  • Sleek user interface

  • Recovers hundreds of file formats

  • Translated into a dozen of languages


Disadvantages:

  • Can recover only 1 GB of data for free


Supported Mac OSs: Mac OS X 10.6 - macOS 10.14.


Supported Languages: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Dutch.


Price: Free version allows 1 GB recovery.

Essential $79.95
Standard $99.95
Advanced $119.95
"The oldest and the best. Simply scans the disk and shows you what it finds, good for recovering files of all types, on all types of media." - community.spiceworks.com

5. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard

best for new users

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is an incredibly capable file recovery program that excels at being easy to use for both tech-savvy users and newcomers. It’s chock-full of features, looks good, and gets the job done with minimal effort on your part.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard preview

Overall Experience:


EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is an excellent data recovery option for Mac machines, offering a user interface that’s both aesthetically pleasing and accessible to both novices and veterans alike. It’s not all looks either. The app is capable of retrieving files from a healthy range of Mac-based storage devices and file systems, including fusion drives and even Time Machine backups.


It also comes with some excellent features, including a file filter that helps you easily narrow down results, a bootable media option that helps you get back files even if your operating system won’t start up, and a “Recover to Cloud” feature that allows you to save retrieved files directly to Cloud storage.


EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard cloud recovery destination

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard may be too pricey for some and its scans are slower than much of the competition, but these are minor tradeoffs to an otherwise fantastic data recovery app.


Advantages:

  • User interface is easy on the eyes and simple to use
  • Boasts impressive recovery results
  • Lots of useful features, including “Recover to cloud”
  • Built for Mac-based storage devices and file systems

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive subscription-based pricing system
  • Lackluster scanning speeds

Supported Mac OSs: Mac OS X 10.9 and newer.


Supported Languages: 20 different languages.


Price:

Monthly $89.95
Annual $119.95
Lifetime Upgrades $169.95
"It is the best way, at an affordable price, to be able to retrieve information. Recovers files that have been lost, that have been removed from the recycle bin, and also that may be damaged." - www.capterra.com

6. R-Studio

Best for tech-savvy users

R-Studio is a more technical offering for Mac systems that’s geared towards advanced users looking for a robust and feature-filled data recovery program. In the right hands, it has all the tools you’d need to recover lost information.

R-Studio preview function

Overall Experience:


R-Studio is by no means a simple data recovery solution and requires tech-savvy hands to fully take advantage of the app. But if you know what you’re doing, this program offers a top-tier list of excellent tools and features, including advanced recovery algorithms, a built-in hex editor, imaging capabilities, network recovery, and more.


It also boasts superb recovery rates and speedy scans. Unfortunately, the overly complicated user interface may be a detriment to newbie users looking for a straightforward experience and the scarcity of available documentation makes the learning curve even steeper.


R-Studio for Mac recovery process

But if you think you have the technical know-how to fully utilize the app, then R-Studio will prove to be one of the best data recovery solutions in the business.


Advantages:

  • Includes tons of tools and features for all sorts of data recovery needs
  • Recovery results are rock solid
  • Mac pricing scheme is much simpler than the Windows alternative
  • Scans are quicker than some of the competition

Disadvantages:

  • User interface and functionality may be too complex for the common user
  • UI isn’t very pretty either

Supported Mac OSs: Mac OS X 10.5 and newer.


Supported Languages: 9 different languages.


Price:

R-Studio for Mac $79.99
R-Studio Technician $899.00
R-Studio T80+ for Mac $80.00
R-Studio Corporate for Mac $179.99
"Outstanding piece of software. Well worth the $80 fee!! Almost didn't buy it because of the reviews!! Strongly recommend buying" - community.spiceworks.com

7. Exif Untrasher

Best for image recovery

Exif Untrasher is a free Mac file recovery software tool that was developed with a single purpose in mind: to recover JPEG images from physical storage devices and disk images.

Exif Untrasher

Overall Experience:


Developed by software developer Carsten Blüm, Exif Untrasher is the most straightforward free file recovery software that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to all Mac users. It’s designed to painlessly recover JPEG images from physical storage devices and disk images. Yes, this file recovery software doesn’t support any other image file formats, so you better look elsewhere if you need to recover documents or videos.


Because Exif Untrasher does just one thing, it can do it exceptionally well. To recover images with it, you simply select a physical storage device or disk image, specify the destination folder, and start the recovery process.


Exif Untrasher creating device image

Exif Untrasher runs on Mac OS X 10.10 or higher and is localized in English, German, French, and Italian. You can download it directly from the developer’s website and install it just like you would any other third-party Mac application.


Advantages:

  • Freeware

  • Extremely easy to use


Disadvantages:

  • It can only recover JPEG files


Supported Mac OSs: Mac OS X 10.10 - macOS 10.15.


Supported Languages: English.


Price: Free

"All images had been deleted and memorycard formatted on my Nikon D70! Still Exif Untrasher wal able to recover all 240 jpeg-images I was missing. Great app!" - cnet.com

Comparison of the Best Data Recovery Software for Mac

Disk Drill free photo recovery
Disk Drill
TestDisk
TestDisk
iBoysoft Data Recovery
iBoysoft
iSkysoft
iSkysoft
EaseUS
EaseUS
R-Studio
R-Studio
Exif Untrasher
Exif Untrasher
Recovery Results
Price $89 Freeware $89.95 $79.95 annual subscription $89.95 monthly subscription $79.99 Freeware
Mac OS support Mac OS X 10.5 - macOS 12 Mac OS X 10.5 - macOS 10.14 Mac OS X 10.9 - macOS 11 Mac OS X 10.6 - macOS 10.15 Mac OS X 10.9 and newer Mac OS X 10.5 and newer Mac OS X 10.10 and newer
Demo avaiable
Modern interface
Data Protection Tools
Payment Options PayPal, Credit Card, Wire Transfer PayPal, Credit Card PayPal, Credit Card PayPal, Credit Card, Wire Transfer PayPal, Credit Card

Choosing the Best Data Recovery Software

We considered multiple characteristics of the data recovery solutions chosen for our list. Examining a single factor may not be enough to determine which solution is the right one for your data loss situation. Following are the attributes of the competing software solutions that influenced our decision and may steer you toward a specific application.



  • ⚙️ Data recovery performance.The recovery performance of the chosen solution is its most important characteristic. No matter how well a solution compares in the other categories we will consider, it needs to be able to successfully recover your lost data. That’s the bottom line for data recovery software.
    Recovery performance should be considered apart from factors like ease of use and pricing. A free tool that is extremely easy to use but fails to recover more than half your files is not very useful when faced with the loss of valuable data. So recovery performance is a crucial factor in determining the best solution.
  • 💡 Functionality. Recovery tools should provide the user with the required level of functionality to address their data loss scenario. A stable software solution will straightforwardly perform its recovery functions and enable data in many formats to be restored from a variety of storage devices.
    The functionality of a recovery tool can be hindered by issues like not recovering file names or not categorizing recoverable files. This reduced functionality makes it hard or impossible for a non-technical user to successfully recover data with the tool.
  • 💲 Pricing. The price of data recovery software ranges from freeware to expensive commercial products. In general, freeware recovery products have limited functionality and do not have user-friendly interfaces.
  • 💬 User reviews. User reviews can be a good source of information about a software product. Keep in mind that the review could have been submitted by the product’s marketing department or a competitor. Taking that into account, you should be able to glean some information regarding recovery results and ease of use from user reviews.
  • 👴 Ease-of-use. Data recovery is a stressful situation for the majority of computer users. Trying to restore your lost files using a complicated procedure or obscure interface will only increase the stress level. We like simple interfaces that make it easy to recover data with a few clicks. You should look for a user-friendly tool that simplifies the data recovery process.

How Does Data Recovery on Mac Work?

Data recovery app for Mac takes advantage of the fact that Apple designed its operating system to be as efficient as possible. When a user deletes a file on a Mac computer, the operating system simply marks the physical storage space occupied by the file as available but doesn’t actually delete it.

Instead, the deleted file remains physically present on the storage device until the operating system overwrites it with new data. Before that happens, it’s possible to recover it using one of the data recovery apps listed in this article.

Can Data Recovery Be Performed on All Versions of macOS?

While newer versions of macOS require users to grant data recovery apps some additional permissions, the actual recovery process remains the same regardless of which version you choose. That said, you need to verify that your data recovery app of choice supports the version of macOS you have installed on your computer.

Here’s a list of all versions of macOS and Mac OS X that were released in the last 10 years:
  • OS X 10.7 Lion - 20 July 2011
  • OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion - 25 July 2012
  • OS X 10.9 Mavericks - 22 October 2013
  • OS X 10.10 Yosemite - 16 October 2014
  • OS X 10.11 El Capitan - 30 September 2015
  • macOS 10.12 Sierra - 20 September 2016
  • macOS 10.13 High Sierra - 25 September 2017
  • macOS 10.14 Mojave - 24 September 2018
  • macOS 10.15 Catalina - 7 October 2019
  • macOS 11.0.1 Big Sur - 12 November 2020
  • macOS 12.0.1 Monterey - 25 October 2021

As you can see, Apple decided to rename its operating system to macOS with the release of macOS 10.12 Sierra.

Mac models storage and recovery

The ability of data recovery software to recover files from a Mac depends on the type of storage device installed on or connected to the computer. If you have an SSD drive with TRIM enabled, recovery software won’t work. Fortunately, you can turn off TRIM if you wish with the sudo trimforce disable command.

New MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and iMac models are equipped with an SSD. Older models may have either an SSD or a traditional hard drive as their main storage device. You should use the About this Mac -> System Report to determine which type of device is installed on your Mac. If it’s an SSD, you may want to disable TRIM for better results with data recovery software.

Data recovery software can address data loss situations on all types of Macs. Here are some examples:
  • MacBook Air - These computers are often used as portable laptops due to their size and weight. This exposes them to potential damage and data loss that can be resolved with data recovery software
  • MacBook Pro - Many users prefer a powerful MacBook Pro over a desktop machine. Data loss can involve business-related documents and other valuable items that can all be recovered with a reliable data recovery tool.
  • iMac - These machines are favorites of graphic designers and creative teams. When data loss occurs, it can affect essential videos or photos. Once again, recovery software can help resolve the problem.

Which Storage Devices Can Be Recovered?

The best data recovery apps for Mac can recover deleted and lost files from all storage devices available to Mac users, including:
  • Hard drives: Both internal and external hard drives can be recovered using a capable data recovery app, and that includes traditional spinning drives and modern solid-state drives. Some data recovery apps let you recover data from specific partitions, while other apps always scan the entire hard drive.
  • USB flash drives: Flash-based data storage devices with an integrated USB port are useful for transferring small files between computers, but it’s easy to accidentally format them, wiping out all data in just a few seconds. Fortunately, all USB flash drives (USB 1.x, 2.0, and 3.x) can be recovered just as easily as hard drives.
  • Memory cards: Available in a wide variety of types and form factors (SD, SDHC, SDXC, CF I and II, xD, and so on), memory cards are commonly used in cameras, smartphones, media players, and other portable electronic devices. As long as you have a compatible memory card reader, you can recover lost data from any memory card using the data recovery apps for Mac listed in this article.
  • Digital cameras: Files can be recovered from the internal storage of digital cameras and from the memory cards that provide additional capacity. If you accidentally format the device or delete the wrong images, you can recover them if you act before the storage location is overwritten by new data.
  • SSDs: Solid State Devices can be recovered under certain circumstances. The TRIM command is used to improve the efficiency of SSDs by erasing blocks of data when files get deleted. If TRIM is enabled, you will not be able to recover lost data with recovery software. If your SSD does not have TRIM enabled, data recovery software can recover deleted files.

More Methods to Recover Deleted Files on Mac

Here are some alternative methods that can be used to recover deleted files on a Mac.
  • 🗑️ Recover from Mac’s Trash bin. Your Mac’s Trash bin holds recently deleted files until it is manually or automatically emptied. Apple included this special folder to address the needs of users who may occasionally delete the wrong file. When you are searching for a lost or deleted file, the Trash is the first place you look. If the deleted file is found in the Trash, it is easily recovered to its original location with a couple of clicks.
  • 💽 Restore from a Time Machine Backup. Time Machine is Apple’s proprietary backup and recovery tool that ships with every Mac or MacBook. Best practices recommend regularly backing up the data on your computer, and Time Machine offers a convenient method of protecting your information. After backing up your files to an external storage device with Time Machine, it is a simple procedure to recover them in the event they are accidentally deleted. Just connect the storage device that contains the backups and use the Time Machine interface to locate the files to be restored.
  • 👨‍💻 Use a data recovery service. A reliable data recovery service can help you recover lost data when all other options have been exhausted. The staff of a data recovery center will employ advanced hardware and software techniques to recover your data when it may have looked hopeless. Using cleanrooms to physically protect your storage media, damaged drives can be cloned so their data can be extracted and returned to you by the technicians working at a data recovery service.
  • ⌨️ Use the CTRL-Z command. The CTRL-Z command is also known as the ‘undo’ command. Using this command essentially undoes the last thing you did on your Mac. You can execute the command repeatedly to go back and undo several actions, such as deleting a block of text or a file or folder. Use this command as soon as you realize you need to undo an action, as there is a limit to how far you can go back.
  • 🖥️ Terminal commands for data recovery. Several commands that are useful for data recovery can be executed from the Mac Terminal application. You can access the Mac Trash bin from Terminal to recover recently deleted files. Time Machine backups can also be accessed from Terminal and used to recover lost data. Another option is to run a data recovery tool from the command line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated on by 7 Data Recovery Team

The amount of money it will cost to recover data from a Mac varies widely based on the method and product used to perform the recovery. Assuming that you do not have a backup of the data and the lost files are not in the Trash, you essentially have three options.

Freeware - You might be able to recover your lost data for free using a freeware solution. If you choose this route, be prepared for inconsistent recovery results and the possibility that you will be using a very basic or command-line interface.

Commercial software - Reliable commercial data recovery products can be obtained for under $100 and offer a much more intuitive and consistent recovery experience compared to freeware alternatives.

Data recovery service - When data recovery software fails, the professionals at a data recovery service may be able to restore your data. This is the most expensive method and can cost several hundred or thousands of dollars.

Yes, there are. TestDisk for Mac is our favorite completely free Mac data recovery software application because it’s open-source and supports most file formats and file systems. Other options include PhotoRec, Exif Untrasher, and Lazesoft Mac Data Recovery.

To recover files using Mac terminal: 

  1. Launch the Terminal application.
  2. Enter cd .Trash and press Return to move to the Trash folder.
  3. Type this command mv xxx.xxx specifying the filename and extension you wish to recover. Hit Return.
  4. Type Quit to exit the Terminal app. Files are restored to their original locations.

Apple has included a built-in data backup and recovery program called Time Machine in all modern Mac operating systems. Using this app allows you to create regular backups of all the files in your machine, which you can later use to restore any data that may have been accidentally deleted or lost. The catch, of course, is that you need to consistently create backups on a designated driver to ensure that you have a source to recover files from.

You can enlist the help of a free data retrieval software or one that has a generous trial version. A couple of good choices are iBoyssoft and iSkysoft, both of which have a trial edition with a 1GB data recovery limit. Alternatively, if your files were just recently deleted, you can check your machine’s Trash Can to see if they’re still there. Apple’s Time Machine tool is another good way to retrieve deleted files, assuming you keep regular backups.

If you’ve just mistakenly deleted some files from your Mac machine, you can quickly undo this by hitting the Command + Z keys simultaneously. This command reverses your most recent action. Also, deleted files are usually sent to the Trash Can first before you manually erase them for good, so it’s worth checking there to see if you can find the data you’re looking for.

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    Marom Haion
    I really didn't believe it could work, BUT IT DID !! I got my accidentally deleted document back along with all of the trash bin's content ! Thank you so much, you just saved my life !!
  • «Disk Drill is an awesome free file recovery program, both because of its long list of features and its exceptionally simple-to-use interface.» by Tim Fisher
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