How to Recover Deleted Videos on Mac

Updated on July 16, 2020
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Experienced freelance content writer with an eclectic employment history.

Losing video files can be panic-inducing, but all may not be lost.
Losing video files can be panic-inducing, but all may not be lost. | Source

Anyone who has used a computer for long enough will probably have experienced that gut-wrenching feeling that hits you when you realize you have just accidentally deleted a file that you really didn't want to delete. Whether you realize immediately, or a little after the fact, it's a sinking feeling that only varies in intensity based on how irreplaceable the files were. Sometimes we are talking perhaps half an hour of work. Other times it could be months of work. All too often, it is video footage that is near-irreplaceable.

If you are reading this because it has happened to you, hold back the panic—all is not lost yet. There are several ways to retrieve lost data on a Mac, and we've put together this handy guide to help you save your files. Welcome to Recover Deleted Videos Mac Edition!

The Theory of Recovering Deleted Videos on a Mac

When deleting a video, several factors come into play. Firstly, there is your trash folder. As long the file is not excessively large, and there is space on your hard drive, your deleted files will be moved to your trash folder, which is essentially the same as moving them to any other regular folder. While in here they will be out of sight and unusable, but they still take up the same amount of hard drive space. Because the data is not really gone, it can be restored as easily as moving a file from one folder to another, since that is basically what is happening. Once they are cleared out of your trash folder, however, they are deleted from your hard drive.
Or are they?
The simplest way to think of your computer's file system is as a literal filing cabinet. The drawers are directories, and the files are, well, files. When you delete something the usual way (that is, not using secure data destruction software), all you are really doing is taking the label off of the file. The information inside that file is still there.

Of course, at some point, your Mac is going to want to put new data in those files, at which point your old data will be gone for good. But if you catch it before that happens, you can recover your lost video.

Methods to Recover Deleted Videos on Mac

So, now you understand the theory behind recovering deleted videos on Mac, let's move onto the how. There are several methods, and the method you need will depend on your specific circumstances. We're going to start with the easy one.

1. Restore Deleted Video Files on Mac from Trash Folder

For files that have been banished to the Trash Folder, recovery is a straightforward process. Simply open your Trash Folder, search through the files in there until you find what you need, and right-click on it to bring up the contextual menu. In there you will find an option to "Put Back". Select that option, and the files will be returned to where they were when you deleted them.

Please note that your Mac will automatically delete files in the Trash Folder after thirty days, so don't leave it too long! If you have multiple files to recover, you can select as many as you want at the same time and put them all back in one click.


There is little to complain about with this quick and painless method. The only drawback is that it only works for files that haven't been completely deleted yet.

2. Recover Deleted Videos from Time Machine Backup

For those of you that have it set up, you will be able to recover permanently deleted videos from Mac Time Machine. This is Apple's in-house backup software, which periodically backs up your data for just such an occasion as this.

To do this, head into your Mac's system preferences and find Time Machine. Once you've clicked on that, if your Time Machine has been set up correctly, you should be presented with a list of backups. Find the one you'd like to use and hit "Restore". And that's all there is to it.


Time Machine is a full system backup, so restoring from a Time Machine backup will revert your whole system to the way it was at the time of backup. That may not be a problem for you, but it is a little overkill when there are other options.

Time Machine can be a great way to rescue lost video... as long as you have it set up properly.
Time Machine can be a great way to rescue lost video... as long as you have it set up properly. | Source

3. Recover Deleted/Lost Videos with AnyRecover for Mac

It may be the case that for video recovery Mac has some reliable built-in options, but sometimes you have to venture outside of the box. AnyRecover is a third party application that will bring your files back to life. The process is simple.

  • Download AnyRecover from their website and install it. This process won't take long.
  • Open the application and select the location on your system where the deleted files were. AnyRecover will begin scanning that location.
  • Once the scanning is complete, you will be presented with a list of recoverable files, with some files, like photos, available to preview. Select the files you need to rescue and click "Recover".

That's all there is to it.

AnyRecover can rescue video files when all else may seem lost.
AnyRecover can rescue video files when all else may seem lost. | Source

Pro Tip: Regular Backups!

We couldn't put together a "How to Recover Deleted Videos on Mac" guide without mentioning backups. The best way to save your data from inadvertent deletion is to have backups of that data.

On a Mac, Time Machine is the easiest way to achieve this. If you have not got it set up, simply navigate to the Time Machine's settings as described above, and set it to "Back Up Automatically".


Hopefully, you now feel fully versed in how to recover videos on Mac. Remember, keep regular backups of your work, and never empty your Trash Folder unless you are sure you are done with the files that are in there. Also, remember that your Trash Folder will empty itself every thirty days.

Recovering deleted files may not be as hard as it first seems, but the best method will always be not accidentally deleting those files, to begin with. Whenever you're deleting potentially important files, take an extra breath to consider whether you are really done with the file or not.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 John Bullock


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