How to Retrieve Deleted Files on Mac without Time Machine

“I accidentally deleted some documents on my Mac, can I recover deleted files on Mac without using Time Machine? Because I’ve never enable this backup service before.” This is one of frequently asked questions on Mac forums.

You may also know Time Machine but have never used it to backup your Mac data and settings. Therefore, there is no Mac backup where you can found your deleted, replaced, or Trash-emptied document items on your MacBook.

So the deleted files really lost forever from your Mac?

In fact, the deleted files may still exist on your Mac hard drive if they are not overwritten by the new data you add to your Mac. You can read this post to know why. So if you have deleted files on your Mac and emptied your Trash, you still have chance to recover deleted files, even if you didn’t backup them to Time Machine software.

But how to find whether your deleted Mac files are recoverable?

If you lost files on your device, usually there are two solutions, including some third-party Mac data recovery software and professional data recovery service. And both of them help you scan your Mac hardware database to find the deleted files on your MacBook.

But they are not free, and the cost range is very low to very high from $40 to $2000. Regardless of the cost, let’s see how these methods work to recover deleted data on a Mac.

What’s the Mac data recovery software?

Mac data recovery software like Stellar data recovery are capable of retrieving lost files on your Mac desktops and laptops. For example, Stellar Mac data recovery is compatible with the HFS, HFS+, FAT, ExFAT and NTFS file systems. Without experts, you can quickly download and install these software on your computer to start recovering by following its tutorials.

These data recovery apps are not free. However, its free trial allows you to scan your mac hard drive and preview your deleted files. And the price of these apps are often cheap, compared with that of data recovery services.

What’s the professional data recovery service?

With data recovery service like ACE data recovery, you can get the help of some hard drive experts to recover deleted files on your Mac. And these experts say that they will use the most advanced algorithms to reassemble your lost data. Or they’ll use some special tools to pick out what you deleted and organize them together. Of course, these services are not free. And they often cost several hundred dollars.


If you didn’t backup your Mac to Time Machine, you still have chance to get back your deleted files as long as the new files didn’t overwrite your deleted files.

And there are two methods to recover your permanently deleted files on your Mac: the data recovery services and data recovery software. Both of them cost you money. And the software ofter you free trial to scan and preview deleted files, which allows you to check whether you can find some retrievable files.

1 thought on “How to Retrieve Deleted Files on Mac without Time Machine”

  1. Here is a list of best data recovery softwares that I have found:
    1. uFlysoft
    2. Recuva
    3. Disk Drill
    4. Glary Undelete
    5. Panda Recovery
    6. SoftPerfect File Recovery
    7. EaseUs Data Recovery Software

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