3 Proven Techniques to Recover Deleted Videos on Mac

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recover deleted videos on mac

Sooner or later, everyone’s bound to delete one of precious videofiles by accident. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry—your files aren’t gone forever. You can in fact recover deleted videos on Mac. You just need to know how to do it.

This guide takes you through three proven methods for restoring your lost videos. Best of all, they don’t take a lot of technical know-how, so anyone can do it.

What Types of Videos & Video Tools Are There on Mac?

Whether you’re doing in-depth edits on cinematic-quality clips or simply stitching together homemade recordings, there are plenty of tools that allow you to work with videos on a MacBook.

Tool Description
QuickTime Originally developed by Apple, this media player offers elementary editing capabilities and file conversion features. Its default file type is MOV and MP4.
iMovie A more advanced editing tool than QuickTime, iMovie lets users easily create professional-looking videos on their home system. It supports a wide range of file types, including MP4, AVI, and MOV.
Adobe Premiere Pro Used by professional editors, videographers, and cinematographers, Adobe Premiere Pro offers highly advanced editing software for a premium price. It supports an incredibly wide range of file formats like MP4, AVI, MOV, MPEG, M2V, MXF, and many more.

But even the best video editing tools don’t prevent human error. And there is always a chance that you may lose files during the editing process.

Luckily, there are a few ways to recover those lost video files on your Mac.

How to Find Videos on a MacBook

Before you go trying to recover deleted videos, it’s important to make sure they aren’t still on your Mac in the first place. After all, why go through all the trouble when your files aren’t even missing?

There are two main ways to find video files on Mac computers: using Photos (formerly iPhoto) and through Finder.

Method 1: Find Videos in Photos app

If you took a video using your phone or tablet, it’s likely going to end up within Photos itself.

To find videos in Photos:

  1. Open Photos using Spotlight (Command + Space), Finder, or Launchpad.open Photos
  2. Select “Media Types” from the sidebar. sort by video media type
  3. Search through your undeleted video files. search through your video files

Method 2: Find Other Videos With Finder

For all other video types, you’ll need to do some sleuthing using Finder.

To find other videos on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder.open finder
  2. Click the search icon to open the search field.open the search field
  3. Type “kind:movie” and click the results that populate below. Make sure your selected location is your Mac, and you’re searching on “This Mac” rather than other options.search for movie file types
  4. Find your video file. find your video file

How to Recover Deleted Videos on Mac

If you find you’ve accidentally deleted video, there is still hope your files aren’t gone forever. To recover deleted MP4 files (or any other Mac compatible file format), try following the techniques below to restore your files.

Method 1: Use Data Recovery Software

One of the best ways to recover deleted video on Mac is to use data recovery software. As long as you don’t overwrite the “deleted” files with new information, they should still be on your machine.

NOTE: Stop using the affected disk drive as soon as you realize you’ve accidentally deleted video to prevent overwriting.

Data recovery software lets you undelete those files before you lose them forever. There are plenty of recovery apps out there to choose from. But we’ve found the best on the market to be Disk Drill. Disk Drill’s user-friendly interface, powerful features, and superior data recovery ability make it a clear winner here.

To use Disk Drill for deleted video recovery on Mac:

  1. First, download Disk Drill and install the application. Install the application.
  2. Grant Disk Drill full disk access. grant full disk access
  3. Select the disk drive that held your missing video files. Then click “Search for lost data.”select the drive with your missing video
  4. Wait for Disk Drill to scan your drive (it may take several minutes).
  5. Once the scan finishes, click “Review found items.”click review found items after the scan is finished
  6. Drill down to your file location. Click the eye icon to preview the file to ensure it can be restored. find your files
  7. Select the files you want to restore and click “Recover.”select your files and click recover
  8. Choose where you’d like to restore your files and click “OK.” choose your files destination

Method 2: Use Photos (Formerly iPhoto)

If you’re wondering how to recover deleted videos from a Mac without external software, Photos is the first place to look for videos captured from your phone. Luckily, there’s a “Recently Deleted” category that stores recently deleted items for up to 40 days (sometimes less).
To use Photos to retrieve deleted videos:

  1. Open Photos from Finder, Spotlight (Command + Space), or Launchpad.open Photos app
  2. Click on “Recently Deleted” in the sidebar. click on recently deleted
  3. Select your video file and then click “Recover.”recover recently deleted videos

Method 3: Use Time Machine

You can also use Apple’s built-in backup application Time Machine to restore deleted videos.

Time Machine takes the hassle out of regularly backing up your data in case of an emergency. As long as your backup disk is connected and you have the “Back Up Automatically” option selected, Time Machine will keep:

  • Hourly backups for the past 24 hours.
  • Daily backups for the past month.
  • Weekly backups for all previous months.

With Time Machine, you can go to a previous backup and pluck out the lost or deleted video file and restore it to your current system.

NOTE: This method only works if you’ve been keeping regular backups and if your backup drive is currently connected.

To use Time Machine backups to recover deleted video on Mac:

  1. Open Time Machine. It should be in your toolbar at the top of your screen. open Time Machine
  2. Click “Browse Time Machine Backups”enter Time Machine
  3. Navigate to where your video file used to be using the sidebar.navigate to where your video file used to be
  4. Find the backup you’d like to restore from using the background windows, up arrow, or timeline to the right. Then select your video file and click “Restore.”find the backup
  5. You can then find your newly restored video file right where you left it.find your restored video

What to do If You Retrieve a Deleted Video That Won’t Play

If your video won’t play, it means your file is likely corrupted. There are two ways to deal with this situation.

First, you can attempt to fix the problem yourself. To do this, you’ll need to:

  1. Sort the list of recovered files alphabetically.
  2. If a file ending in .mov is immediately followed by a smaller file that ends in _ftyp.mov, you may be able to fix the file.
  3. To fix the video file, open Terminal (Command + Space, type “Terminal”).open terminal
  4. Use “cd directory_name” to go where your files are.
  5. Combine both files into one, placing the “_ftyp.mov” file first followed by the second and > video.mov. Your command line should be something like this: cat f2951104_ftyp.mov f0195200.mov > video.movcombine the two files in terminal

If the newly created video.mov file does not work, you’ll have to use external software meant for repairing corrupted videos.


Finding out you’ve accidentally deleted a video file can make your heart skip a beat. And as you know, some recordings are downright irreplaceable.

Thankfully, you can use the methods outlined in this guide to permanently recover deleted videos from your Mac.


To find videos in iPhoto (now simply Photos), just:
  1. Open Photos.
  2. Select “Media Types” from the sidebar.
  3. Click “Videos” to only show videos within the Photos app.
To find all videos on your Mac, simply:
  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click the search icon to open the search field.
  3. Type “kind:movie” and click the results that populate below.
  4. Scroll through all the video files on your Mac stored outside of Photos.
To find videos stored within Photos, first:
  1. Open Photos.
  2. Select “Media Types” from the sidebar.
  3. Click “Videos” to only show videos within the Photos app.
To delete videos on Mac, all you have to do is:
  1. Locate your video in Finder (type “kind:movie” in the search bar to reveal all movie files) or Photos (select “Media Types” from the sidebar and then “Videos” to show all videos).
  2. Right-click the file and choose “Move to Trash” or “Delete Video” to delete the video.
  3. The video will then need to be deleted from the Trash or the Recently Deleted section of Photos to remove them entirely.
To find movie files on your Mac, you can:
  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click the search icon to open the search field.
  3. Type “kind:movie” and click the results that populate below.
  4. Scroll through all the video files on your Mac stored outside of Photos.
To recover permanently deleted files on Macbook Pro, you can:
  • Use a data recovery tool like Disk Drill.
  • Check the Temporary Folder.
  • Recover files using a Time Machine backup.
  • Use free software like TestDisk and PhotoRec.
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Specializing in technology and marketing, Alex Thompson has spent his writing career turning dense topics like cryptocurrency and cybersecurity into digestible, engaging content for readers.
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12 years experience in software development, database administration and hardware repair.