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Recover Disappeared or Missing Desktop Files from Mac

Usually, files are saved on the desktop so that they can be quickly accessed. Sometimes these files can disappear from the desktop without the knowledge of the user. This article sheds light on the various ways to recover the disappeared files from Mac. If you want to quickly recover files, make use of Remo Recover for Mac. a powerful yet fun to use tool that can flawlessly recover any file from any mac system. Download and try the tool for free now!!!

Why do Files Disappear from the Desktop on Mac?

The Mac desktop files could disappear for the following reasons.

  • The files on the desktop could be hidden from the user
  • The files might have been moved to the iCloud drive. Especially if the user has enabled desktop folders to be saved on iCloud
  • Accidentally deleting the files from the desktop or misplacing them
  • Virus infections to the computer could have deleted files on the desktop

How To Get Back The Missing Files From Desktop?

Normally when files exist on the desktop we try to save them temporarily in a different location and forget about them. Sometimes you might have enabled the Stack option that might have categorized your files.

If you have verified all the probable storage locations and confirmed that the files on the Mac desktop have disappeared, here are the troubleshooting steps that you can try to find and recover the missing file from Mac.

Quick clicks to find files disappeared from Mac

  1. Recover Deleted, Missing Files from Trash
  2. Retrieve Lost Files by Disabling iCloud
  3. Unhide Missing Files using Finder
  4. Unhide Files through Terminal
  5. Access the Missing Files through Stack
  6. Restore Files through Time Machine Backup
  7. Recover Permanently Disappeared Files from Mac

Method 1: Recover Missing Files from Trash

There are times when you have unknowingly deleted a certain file from the desktop. These deleted files are generally moved to the Trash folder by default. Hence the first thing you should do when files go missing is to check for the files in Trash.

Click here to know how to recover desktop folders that disappeared after the Mac Catalina update.

  • Open the Trash folder, and look out for the file that you have lost.
    Open trash bin and select the files that you have lost
  • In case you find a large number of files on the drive, type the name of the file in the search box for easy access.
  • Once you find the file, right-click and click on “Show Enclosing Folders” it will guide you directly to the file.
    click on show in Enclosing Folder
  • Right-click on the file and select the Put Back option to restore the file.
    Click on the put back option

If you have emptied or didn’t find the files in the Bin, go through this article to find out how to recover files from Trash on Mac.

Method 2: Retrieve Files by Disabling iCloud

An iCloud Drive is a wonderful option on macOS that allows the user to save data on the drive and access them from any Apple device. If you have synced the files on the desktop to iCloud, the respective files will be copied to the cloud storage and the desktop files or copy is removed.

If the files and folders on your desktop are missing, chances are that these files could be moved to iCloud. You can log in to your iCloud account and access the files. Also, you can disable the feature of automatic removal

  1. Click on the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
    click on system preferences
  2. Now, select iCloud and press the Options button.
  3. Next, uncheck Desktop & Documents Folders and click Done.
    uncheck desktop and documents folders and click on done

Method 3: Unhide Missing Files using Finder

When the desktop files disappear from the computer you can always check to see if the files are hidden. By unhiding the files on your Mac you can access and use the disappeared desktop files. Here is how you can unhide files on macOS

  1. Open Finder and select the Macintosh HD folder.
    open finder and select the macintosh hd folder
  2. Now, press Command+Shift+Dot.
  3. Once done, your hidden files will be visible.
    the hidden folders will be visible

Method 4: Unhide Missing Files using Terminal

You can use the Terminal app to unhide any hidden files on Mac. The steps are as follows:

  1. From Finder and go to Applications, find Utilities, open Terminal.
  2. In Terminal, type defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES, then click Return.
    type in the following command and hit enter
  3. Press the Option key and then secondary-click the Finder icon in Dock. Now select Relaunch.
    click on relaunch

Method 5: Access the Missing Files through Stack

The Stack feature is available on Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, High Sierra, and other versions of macOS. It allows you to organize the files according to their file type. If the Stack feature is enabled on macOS, chances are that these files are organized with respect to the category.

Once you expand the category you will be able to view the file within them. However, you can disable the Stack feature by following the below steps.

  1. Select View on the top of your Desktop and check Use Stacks
  2. Now, click Group Stacks By and see in what way your files were grouped.
  3. After finding your missing files, you can move them to your desired location

Method 6: Restore Files through Time Machine Backup

Time Machine backup contains all the files and folders that the user has backed up.
Despite trying the above-mentioned steps if you are unable to find the missing or disappeared files, you can recover them from the Time Machine backup.

  1. Firstly, make sure your Time Machine backup drive is connected to your Mac.
  2. From the top Menu bar, click on Time Machine and then select Enter Time Machine.
  3. Locate the disappeared Mac files from the Time Machine.
    find and select the files and click on restore
  4. Finally, select the required files and click on Restore.

Now, you can go back to the original location to find the recovered desktop files from the Time Machine backup.

In most cases, you can get back your missing or disappeared files after trying the above solutions. If you are unable to find the disappeared files, they might be deleted permanently from your Mac

Method 7: How Do I Recover Permanently Disappeared Files from Mac?

When any files are deleted permanently from the computer, the system only erases information such as date modified, size, and the file type from its registry. But the actual data on the file still remains on the disk. However, there is a way to recover this data from the drive. You can do so by using trusted data recovery software.

Files disappeared from the desktop can be difficult to find and access. These missing files cannot be directly accessed from the computer’s interface. However, an effective data recovery tool such as Remo Recover surpasses the restrictions of the computer and access the hidden data. The advanced scan engine of the tool scans the drive sector by sector to recover the disappeared files. Download and install the software for free now.
download now

How to Recover Macbook Files Disappeared From Desktop? 

Download and install the Remo Mac Data Recovery software on your computer and follow the below-mentioned steps.

  1. Launch the application and from the main window, select the Recover Files option.
    click on recover files
  2. Next, select the Recover Lost Files option.
    choose between recover deleted files and recover lost files
  3. Select the drive from which the lost folder has to be recovered and click on the Next tab.
    Select the drive for where you want to recover lost files
  4. After the scanning process is completed, the list of retrieved files will be displayed.
  5. You can preview the files and click on the Save button to save the recovered data.
    Ppreview and save the recovered files

Additional information:


Hopefully, by now you know what was the reason why your Macbook files disappeared. We are also pretty sure that you were able to recover all of your files that were missing or disappeared after using the above-mentioned methods.
A quick tip in order to not face any unfortunate data loss situation in the future, try taking a regular backup of your important files and store them on any external storage device.

 If you have any more doubts or additional queries. Feel free to drop them in the comment section below.

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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