Recover Disappeared or Missing Desktop Files from Mac

10 minutes read

Usually, files are saved on the desktop so that they can quickly be accessed. Sometimes these files can disappear from the desktop without a person’s knowledge. This article sheds light on various ways that you can use to recover disappeared files from Mac. If you wish to recover files quickly, make use of Remo Recover for Mac. an extremely user-friendly tool that can flawlessly recover any file from all Mac systems. Download and try the tool for free now!!!

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Normally, files clutter up the desktop when we try to save them temporarily in a different location and forget. Sometimes, you may have enabled the Stack option to categorize your files. If you have verified all the probable storage locations and confirmed that the files on the Mac desktop have disappeared or missing from your system. Then this informative article is sure to help you find and recover disappeared desktop files on mac.

How To Recover Disappeared Desktop Files From Mac?

Method 1: Recover Disappeared Desktop Files from Mac Using Remo File Recovery Software

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

Files that have disappeared from your desktop can be difficult to find and access. These missing files cannot be directly accessed from your computer’s interface. However, an effective data recovery tool such as the Remo File Recovery tool for Mac will supersede computer restrictions to access your 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.

Steps to Recover Disappeared Files From Macbook Desktop 

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

First Step: Launch the application, and from the main window, select the drive from which the lost desktop files have to be recovered and click on the Scan button.

select the desktop folder as a location from where you want to recover the disappeared or missing files and click on the scan button.

Second Step: Next, when Remo starts scanning the selected location, use the Dynamic Recovery View option to view the recovered files without waiting for the entire drive scan completion process.

use the Dynamic Recovery View option to view the recovered files that were missing from the desktop without waiting for the entire drive scan completion process.

Third Step: After the scanning process is completed, the list of retrieved files from the Desktop will be displayed.

list of all recovered desktop files will get displayed on your screen

Fourth Step: You can preview the files by double-clicking on them.

preview the recovered desktop files that were earlier missing or lost

Fifth Step: Select the files that you want to recover and click on the Recover button to save the recovered data.

Select the files that you want to recover also select a location where you want to save them

If you don't want to use tools like Remo. You can feel free to try manual solutions such as the one mentioned-below.

Method 2: Recover Disappeared Files from the Mac Desktop using Spotlight

You can use the Spotlight search function on your Mac to search for the missing files.

  • Click on the Spotlight icon in the top-right corner.
  • Press Command+Space to access the search bar
  • Search for the name of your missing file to check if you can locate your file.
use spotlight to recover missing desktop files

If you think you have accidentally deleted some of your files and folders from the desktop. Then one can also try searching for those files in the Mac Trash folder.

Method 3: Recover Disappeared Files From Mac Desktop Using Trash

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

Follow this article if you are unable to open the Mac Trash folder.

1 - Open the Trash folder, and look out for the file that you have lost.

Open trash bin and select the files that were disappeared for desktop

2 - 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.

3 - Once you find the file, right-click and click on “Show Enclosing Folders” It will guide you directly to the file.

4 - Right-click on the file and select the Put Back option to restore the file.

Click on the put back option after selecting the missing desktop files

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 4: Retrieve Disappeared Desktop 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 it 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 will be 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 5: Unhide Files Missing From Mac Desktop 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 6: Unhide Missing Files from Mac Desktop using the Terminal

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

1: From Finder, go to Applications, find Utilities, and open Terminal.

2: In Terminal, type defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES, then hit 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 option to unhide the disappeared files from the mac desktop

Method 7: 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 files within them. However, if you wish to disable the Stack feature, you can do so 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 how your files were grouped.
  3. After finding your missing files, you can move them to your desired location

Method 8: Restore Missing Desktop Files from the Time Machine Backup

Time Machine backup contains all the files and folders 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.

First Step: Ensure your Time Machine backup drive is connected to your Mac.

Second Step: From the top Menu bar, click on Time Machine and then select Enter Time Machine.

Third Step: Locate the disappeared Mac files from the Time Machine.

find and select the missing desktop files and click on restore

Fourth Step: 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 have been permanently deleted from your Mac. If you think you desktop files and folders have been deleted permanently or lost forever. Then you can always count on specialized file recovery tools like Remo Mac File Recovery Software. These tools are specially designed to work in scenarios where manual data recovery solutions were fruitless.

Additional information: Click on this link if you want to know how to get back iWork files.

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 Mac desktop.

Necessary Read: You can refer to this article to find out how to bring back disappeared Documents folder on Mac.

Note: If you are still using the older versions of macOS. Then we suggest you try the newest version of Mac, that is Mac Ventura. Follow this article, where we have explained how to upgrade to Mac OS Ventura without worrying about data loss.


You now know the reason why your MacBook files disappeared and how to fix it. We are also pretty sure that you were able to recover all of your files that were missing or disappeared after using the methods like Trash Bin folder, Time Machine Backups, Stack, Terminal, Finder, iCloud, Spotlight and Remo Mac File Recovery Tool.

Quick Tip- In order to avoid data loss situations in the future, try taking a regular backup of your important files and storing them on any external storage device.

About the Author: John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines. John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms.…