How to Find and Recover Recently Deleted Photos on a Mac in 2022

How to find recently deleted photos

Most of the photos that we take are stored in the Photos app that is on our Mac. The Photos app is great for storing and editing the photos that we either take on our iPhone or with a separate camera and it comes built right into every Mac.

With so many photos being taken and stored, we may go to delete some and accidentally delete the wrong one by accident. No need to worry though, there are ways to recover deleted photos and get them back onto our Mac. We will take a look at 2 of the best methods for photo recovery in this article.

Recently Deleted Folder in the Photos App

The Photos app comes pre-installed as part of macOS which will allow you to organize and edit the photos that you take. If you have iCloud sync set up, the photos that you take on your other Apple devices will also sync to your computer which allows them to all be in one place.

icloud sync with photos app

If you’re wondering “where do deleted photos go on Mac?”, the answer is your Recently Deleted folder. When you delete a photo either on purpose or by accident, there are ways to get these pictures back and we have to go into the Recently Deleted folder to do this.

How Does It Work?

Apple is a smart company and they have put features into place to make our lives easier. This is why they added the Recently Deleted folder into the Photos app. According to Apple, the deleted photos or videos will stay in this folder for up to 30 days. After this time, they’re permanently deleted and can not be recovered. This is nice as you do have some time to recover the recently deleted photos before they will be gone forever.

How to Recover Deleted Photos?

To find recently deleted photos on our Mac we will launch the Photos app and navigate to the Recently Deleted folder. This is actually quite easy to do and it only takes a few steps.

Step 1. Launch the Photos app from within the Finder.

launch photos app

Step 2. Navigate to the Recently Deleted photos folder on Mac which is on the left-hand side of the Photos app.

accessing the recently deleted folder in the photos app

Step 3. Select the photos that you would like to recover and click on the Recover button.

That’s it! After you have clicked on the Recover button, the photos that you have selected will be put back into your All Photos view and you will have access to them again.

What About the Picture Folder on Mac?

You may hear the name “Pictures Folder” and think to yourself, “that must be where I go to recover my recently deleted photos!”. While your photo library is stored there, you can’t actually access it from within the Pictures folder as it’s a file that needs to be opened by the Photos app.

If you’re trying to access your Pictures folder on your Mac, you can do this but it won’t be as much help to you as using either the Recently Deleted folder or third-party data recovery software which we’re going to take a look at in the next section.

Your photos library is stored in the Pictures folder on your Mac. However, this isn’t of much use to you as you can’t go to the Pictures folder and recover deleted photos. You will have to use the Photos app to access and view your photos.

If you do want to know how to locate it though, you can do so by following the steps below.

Step 1. Launch Finder and go to your home directory to find the Pictures folder on your Mac.

accessing the pictures folder from within finder

Step 2. Click on the Pictures option in the navbar to locate your Pictures folder.

pictures folder on mac

The main reason that you might want to have access to this folder is to create additional photo libraries on your computer. It is best to use the Photos app to access your photos.

If you weren’t able to recover recently deleted photos on Mac by using your Recently Deleted folder, then it’s time to use data recovery software.

How to Recover Recently Deleted Photos Using Disk Drill

If you didn’t know about the Recently Deleted folder and more than 30 days have gone by, what do you do now? The good news is that there are other options for data recovery and Disk Drill will allow you to recover deleted photos from your Mac or iPhone even after the 30 days have gone by.

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill onto your Mac.

Step 2. Launch Disk Drill and select the storage device that you would like to recover deleted photos from.

start scan with disk drill

Step 3. Wait for the scan process to complete.

scan in progress in disk drill

Step 4. Review what Disk Drill was able to recover.

Step 5. Select the photos that you would like to recover using Disk Drill. To make sure that you’re recovering the correct photo, it is best to use the preview option which allows you to see the photo before you recover it. To use this feature, just simply click on the photo, and then it will display an image of the picture.

preview and recover deleted photos

Step 6. Click on the blue Recover button and then you can recover the recently deleted photo back onto your Mac.

That’s it! Keep in mind that you can recover other things than just photos. You can also recover videos, audio, documents, archives, and others which is a “catch-all” for things that don’t fit into a category. In another article, we were able to recover deleted folders as well!


It’s a good idea to know how to recover recently deleted photos on your Mac should you delete one either on purpose or by accident as now you know how to get it back.

With features such as the Recently Deleted folder and third-party data recovery such as Disk Drill, recovering recently deleted photos on your Mac doesn’t have to be as daunting as it might have once been.