Mac – Undelete files on Macbook, trash is empty


long story short: 2am, very tired, in a hurry, deleted all docs from wrong device, emptied trash.

I've been asked to recover files for someone who has mistakenly deleted all documents on their Macbook. They were attempting to clean up a usb device in preparation for backing up the macbook documents to the usb device and, well, bad things happened.

On Windows I've used the awesome GetDataBack for NTFS & FAT from many times for this kind recovery option. Is there anything similar for Macs?

I don't trust the results for a straight up internet search of "get data back for mac" or "data recovery mac". I keep landing on sites that switch domain names when you move from "hey this software works!" pages to the download and/or purchase pages and that just looks too sketchy to me. So please just talk about software you have personal experience with.

I don't have the computer with me yet. I'm trying to find out what I can learn and prepare for before I get started. To aid in the recovery effort, if needed, I have access to Windows 7 machines, an iMac, an ubuntu linux workstation, and USB HD-SATA and laptop HD adapters.

Best Answer

  • Before anything, the best one can do is shut down the device and not use it any longer. Boot up in target disk mode (hold down T when turning power on) so that the drive is accessed as an external drive. You should run the recovery from another computer.

    I successfully was able to recover lost files using, but each use case is different.

    In any case, the longer you use the Mac, the less likely it is to recover any data.

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