How to Recover Videos Deleted from any Mac

Recover Videos Deleted From Mac

Since the advent of high-definition cameras, video files have become so large that storing more than a couple of hours of raw footage on the average Mac is often not an option. As such, many Mac owners are forced to get rid of their old videos to free up storage space for new ones, and they sometimes accidentally delete important recordings in the process.

If you’ve recognized yourself while reading the introductory paragraph, we have good news for you: video recovery from a Mac is possible, and we explain the process step by step in this article. But before we get to that, let’s first talk about video file formats and how they affect video recovery from a Mac.

Which Video File Formats Can Be Recovered?

Theoretically, it’s possible to recover ANY video file format, but some file formats are more widely supported than others. Here are some video file formats that you should be able to recover without any problems:

  • 3G2/3GPP2/3GP/3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project)
  • AVI (Audio Video Interleave)
  • CRM (Canon RAW Movie File)
  • FLV (Flash Video)
  • M4V (MPEG-4)
  • MKV (Matroska Multimedia Container)
  • MOV (QuickTime File Format)
  • MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14)
  • MPG (MPEG-1 or MPEG-2)
  • MTS (commonly called AVCHD)
  • OGM (OGG Media)
  • RM (RealMedia)
  • TS (Video Transport Stream File)
  • WebM (WEB Media)
  • WMV (Windows Media Video)

The reason why the above-mentioned file formats are easy to recover is simple: they’re widely used by professionals and regular users alike. Companies that develop paid and free video recovery software for Mac know this, and they make sure to include support for them.

Of course, some developers of tools for video data recovery for Mac go beyond commonly used video formats, so keep that in mind when choosing a video recovery software application.

Video Recovery: Step-By-Step Instructions

Are you ready to recover your video files? Great! To explain the process of video file recovery on a Mac, we’ll be using a popular data recovery application called Disk Drill, but you can use any application you want, and the basic steps should be more or less the same.

Just remember that not all video recovery applications are equally easy to use and deliver the same results, especially completely free video recovery applications for Mac.

To increase the chance of successful video recovery on a Mac, you need to protect the deleted files from getting overwritten by new data. If possible, put your Mac into Target Disk Mode and connect it to a second Mac. If you don’t have access to another Mac, at least avoid any unnecessary file transfer operations.

Before we begin: When you delete a file on a Mac, it goes to the Trash, which is a special hidden folder for deleted files. Deleted files stay in the Trash for up to 30 days, giving you plenty of time to recover them before they become permanently deleted. We highly recommend you look for your video files in the Trash before you use video recovery software because you can potentially save yourself a lot of time.

Step 1. Launch Disk Drill Video Recovery Software

Disk Drill Video Recovery Software

Again, we’ll be using Disk Drill for the purposes of this article, but you can use any tool for video data recovery for Mac and simply follow along as best as you can.

To get started, launch Disk Drill for Mac and give it Full Disk Access to access your storage devices for data recovery purposes. Since the release of macOS Catalina, Full Disk Access is a native requirement for Disk Drill and other video recovery software for Mac.

Step 2. Scan Your Storage Device

Scan Your Storage Device

You don’t need to remember the exact place where your video files were stored to recover them. Disk Drill always performs a full scan of your storage device to recover as many files as possible, even if they are scattered in different physical locations on the storage device.

To scan the storage device on which your video files were located, Recover button to the right of it as illustrated on the screenshot below. Because Disk Drill hides all the complexity of video file recovery behind the Recover button, you can simply kick back and wait for the scan to finish.

Step 3. Recover Your Video Files

Recover Your Videos

The scanning process should only take a few minutes to finish. Once it does, you need to locate the files you want to recover using the preview feature, select them, and click the Recover button in the top-right corner.

Struggling to find your video files? Then use the filters located above the search results.

When asked to choose a recovery folder, make sure you select a folder that’s located on a different storage device to avoid overwriting the same videos you’re trying to recover.

That’s all! As you can see, performing video recovery on a Mac is not nearly as difficult as it may seem at first, especially with an easy-to-use video recovery software application like Disk Drill.

How Can I Protect Important Videos on a Mac?

Protect Important Videos on a Mac

Mac computers are loved by professional and amateur video editors alike for their ease of use, stability, and high-end screens that make spotting small imperfections and adjusting colors effortless.

Unfortunately, only a relatively small number of Mac users know how to protect important videos and minimize the consequences of their accidental deletion or hardware failure.

Here are a few useful tips from professionals:

  • Activate Time Machine: Time Machine is Apple’s backup solution, and all Mac users who are not willing to risk losing important video files should activate it. Once activated, Time Machine automatically creates incremental backups on an external backup storage device, allowing you to restore specific video files with a few simple clicks.
  • Avoid non-native file systems: While it’s technically possible to access NTFS drives on macOS with the help of Paragon NTFS and other similar solutions, professionals avoid non-native file systems because they don’t want to deal with random errors and data corruption. That also includes the exFAT file system, which lacks journaling, so any interruption during data transfer may result in data loss. In other words, use HFS+ or, even better, APFS.
  • Setup a Network Attached Storage (NAS): You can think of a NAS as a special-purpose server that you can connect to your home network and use to back up all your video files. You can buy one from a company like Synology and equip it with multiple high-capacity hard drives to meet your storage requirements. While more expensive, a NAS is a better backup solution than a RAID array for the reasons listed in this article.


Mac users are not immune to data loss, and all it takes to accidentally delete hours of video footage on a Mac is one wrong click. If you’ve ever experienced the loss of an irreplaceable video, you know how devastating it can feel. The good news is that video recovery solutions for Mac computers do exist, and we’ve explained how they work in this article by recovering permanently deleted video files using Disk Drill.