Accidentally deleting photos of previous memories or music you love can be a gut-wrenching experience. Thankfully, there are ways to recover deleted photos and music and to avoid losing them altogether.
First of all, stop working on your Mac as soon as you realize that you've deleted photos or music. When you delete a file, it isn't removed from the disk – only the reference to it in the Finder's file system is removed. If you keep using your Mac, however, eventually the file will be overwritten. It's important not to let that happen.
The first thing you should use your Mac for after deleting the files you need to recover, is to run a recovery tool like Disk Drill. It's available on Setapp and is free to download, so you can use it right away.
It's much better if Disk Drill is already on your Mac before you delete the photos or music, because it has a couple of features that make it very easy to recover them. However, most of us don't have that foresight. You can get it from Setapp.
NOTE for users on macOS 10.13 High Sierra: High Sierra disallows digging into system disks, so you'll need to temporarily disable System Integrity Protection. To do this, enter Recovery mode on your Mac. That's achieved by rebooting your Mac and holding Command + R after the startup chime. In the screen that appears after, choose Utilities in the top menu, and then open Terminal. Paste "csrutil enable --without fs" and hit Enter. The system will respond with something like this:
Now just reboot your Mac. Once you are back to your desktop, run Disk Drill, and proceed with your data recovery.
It's a fairly trivial task if you haven't cleaned your Trash yet. Simply open your Trash can and check for the files in there. You can also use the search bar to look for the file by name. In the Trash bin, enter the file's name and switch the search volume from This Mac to Trash.
If you removed files a while ago, you might not catch them on time as macOS starts to delete files from the Trash permanently when it's short on disk space. In this case, you can recover them from a Time Machine backup or use Disk Drill, as we advised earlier.
By the way, if you keep your files synced with iCloud, it preserves them for 30 days before removing for good. So that's good news for iCloud users. On the other hand, don't expect that if you delete an image on your iPhone it's still there on your Mac because deletion syncs across devices.
Photos app is pretty generous with deleted images. Just as iCloud, you have a 30-day grace period, during which you can restore deleted images easily.
Every image even has an exact amount of days left specified under it.
First, there's a chance your deleted music still remains in the [username] > Music > iTunes > iTunes Music folder. For earlier OS versions, look for Home > Music > iTunes Media > Music. Check there, you might still find it there and then just drag it on top of the iTunes icon, that should import it back to your library.
If the file you're looking for is nowhere to be found, you'll find it in the Trash folder. But it's not that simple to move it back to iTunes.
Trimming and fixing your gallery after recovery
The first thing you want to do is clean up unnecessary images. An extremely very useful tool for this purpose is available on Setapp, Gemini. It allows you to scan your Mac for duplicates and similar files. Similar images are photos taken in the same location of the same subject and from the same angle. That way you can delete the ones you don't need and keep the rest.
Simply open Gemini, choose your external drive (the one you've recovered your files to) and scan it for duplicates. In case there are multiple repeating files, you can select a specific folder or type by which to clean them up. For example, you can tell Gemini you want files in the New folder to be kept and in the New Folder 2 to be removed. Or keep the oldest, or the largest.
The remaining gallery still needs to be renames into something readable. The recovered files will have names like 'file00001' which isn't very helpful. So, the first thing you'll want to do is rename them. You could do this in the Finder, one file at a time. But Renamer allows you to rename files in batches, which is much quicker. It has specific features for both photos and music files. For example, it makes it easy to put the artist and track name in the file name.
Once you've renamed your files, you can copy them back to your Pictures folder in your Home directory. From there, image organizer Pixa will help you navigate through the gallery at ease. It has a bunch of smart sorting options, like color-based filter where you can, for instance, view all images in the green gamma.
To move your images into Pixa, open the app and go to File > Import. From then I personally prefer the Folders as Projects option because it's more organized and instantly creates neat folders in the side menu. Use tags or View options to sort your images by size, color, type, or name. Color is definitely the most impressive.
Prevention is clearly always better than cure. There are a couple of apps on Setapp subscription that can help you avoid losing your precious photos and music should you accidentally delete them.
ChronoSync Express allows you to set up automatic synchronization of specific folder on your Mac with an external drive, network drive, or cloud storage (not iCloud though). By including your music and photos folders in ChronoSync synchronization, you'll ensure that if you do accidentally delete the originals, you'll still have a backup.
The other app, Get Backup Pro, allows you to backup your Mac, synchronize folders, archive files or clone your entire Mac. Again, if you include your photos and music in a backup routine, you won't have to worry about losing them if you accidentally delete them.
This would be all on the subject of removing photos. As a quick recap: most of your images can be recovered from the Trash can, and when they cannot — get Setapp and use Disk Drill to, well, drill into the depth of your disk and retrieve the missing files. Have a good day and take care of the images!