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How To Recover Deleted Files From a USB Drive on Mac [2024]

Amy Dennis
Amy Dennis Originally published Jan 10, 24, updated May 14, 24

Is it possible to get deleted USB flash drive files back on a Mac computer? Losing data from a flash drive can be a frustrating experience. Fortunately, there are ways to recover deleted files from a USB flash drive on Mac.

If you've accidentally deleted files, experienced a corrupted flash drive, or encountered any other data loss scenario, this article will guide you through the process of USB flash drive recovery on Mac.

Table of Content
    1. Use a Reliable Data Recovery Tool (For All Data Loss Causes)
    2. Recover Recently Deleted Files From the Mac Trash Bin
    3. Check Other Trash Bins
    4. Unhide the Files on the USB Drive

USB Flash Drive Data Loss - Main Causes

USB flash drive data loss Mac occurs due to multiple reasons:

  • Accidental deletion (human error);
  • Virus attack;
  • Malware infection;
  • Disk corruption;
  • Unintentional formatting;
  • Incorrect shutdown;
  • Improper USB drive removal or ejection;
  • Hardware/software defect;
  • System error.

Any of these unwanted scenarios could cause USB flash drive data loss. Thankfully, you can recover lost USB files on your Mac computer to mitigate the situation and get your data back.

Below are the steps to recover files from a flash drive on Mac.

How To Recover Deleted/Lost Files From USB Flash Drive on Mac

Here are the top four methods to help you get your deleted USB drive data back on your Mac.

Method 1. Use a Reliable Data Recovery Tool (For All Data Loss Causes)

The easiest, safest, and most reliable way to get your data back from a USB flash drive is to use a professional USB data recovery program. With a top rating as a Leader in Data Recovery by G2 users, Wondershare Recoverit for Mac is undoubtedly one of the most reliable options available. It's an excellent tool for recovering USB files across various scenarios, including USB drive corruption, formatting, permanent deletion, and other causes.

Wondershare Recoverit
  • Recovers data from 2000+ storage media, including HDDs, SSDs, USB drives, SD cards, etc.
  • Handles 500+ data loss scenarios, such as deletion, formatting, USB corruption, virus attacks, etc.
  • Recovers lost or deleted documents, photos, videos, music, emails, and other 1000+ file types effectively and completely.
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Download, install, and launch Wondershare Recoverit on your Mac computer. Follow the steps below to recover data from a flash drive on your Mac.

  1. Connect the USB flash drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Recoverit for Mac and select Hard Drives and Locations.
  3. Select your USB in the External Drives section.
    select the usb flash drive
  4. The USB data recovery software for Mac will automatically scan the selected removable media for retrievable files.
    scan the usb for lost files
  5. After Wondershare Recoverit is done scanning, filter the results to preview the desired files and click Recover to get your USB data back.
    click recover to recover usb drive on mac

Wondershare Recoverit will restore the selected files from the USB flash drive to the specified location on your Mac. Remember to save the recovered files to a different location than the original USB drive to avoid overwriting any remaining data.

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Method 2. Recover Recently Deleted Files From the Mac Trash Bin

If you've accidentally deleted your USB files on a Mac computer, you can find recently removed files in the Trash Bin. Simply visit the Trash Bin on your Mac to check if the recently deleted files are there. If they are, here are the steps to get them back.

  1. Find the recently deleted data in the Mac Trash Bin.
  2. Find and select the files you want to recover.
    find the files you want to recover in the mac trash bin
  3. Right-click the selected files.
  4. Select Put Back to restore the deleted USB files to their original location.
    select put back to restore deleted usb files

Method 3. Check Other Trash Bins

Your Mac keeps deleted files in separate Trash Cans instead of throwing everything you delete in a single folder. Each drive you use has a matching Trash Can, including your USB external drive. You can try to restore your deleted files on USB flash drive by checking the Trash Cans.

However, ensure your USB drive is connected to your Mac so you can see the files you're looking for in the Mac's Trash. Here's how to check other Trash Bins on Mac.

  1. Navigate to the Dock to launch Trash on your Mac.
    launch trash on mac
  2. Browse the files located in the Trash folders.
  3. If you find a lost USB file, copy/paste or drag and drop it into the USB drive.
    move deleted files from trash bin to usb drive

Method 4. Unhide the Files on the USB Drive

Sometimes, files on a USB drive may be hidden, making them appear as if they are deleted or lost. Mac hides certain files and folders on the USB drive to prevent unintentional deletions and data changes. To unhide and recover these files on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the USB drive to your computer and access it in Finder.
    enable hidden files
  2. Press Command + Shift + . (dot) to unhide any hidden files.
    unhide the files on usb drive on mac
Try Wondershare Recoverit to Recover Data from Flash Drive

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How To Prevent Flash Drive Data Loss on Mac in the Future

If you want to prevent data loss on a Mac USB flash drive, tap into the following tips:

  • Create regular data backups and store them in multiple locations, such as the cloud or an external drive;
  • Remove your USB device properly using the Eject option;
  • Regularly format your USB flash drive to avoid corruption and fix any file system errors;
  • Only download files from trusted sources;
  • Do not install any software from shady or pirated manufacturers;
  • Avoid force-shutting your Mac when your USB drive is connected;
  • Use a trusted data recovery software for Mac to quickly recover your files if need be.

Conclusion

Though USB flash drives can be quite useful and convenient to use daily, they are prone to various problems and issues, including data loss. If you frequently use a USB flash drive to transfer and save files, remember that you could lose your files due to unexpected circumstances.

You could accidentally delete your files, unintentionally format your drive, or lose data due to USB drive corruption. Whatever the case, having a backup solution is the only way to avoid data loss.

This guide should help you recover data from a flash drive on your Mac computer. In addition, have a professional data recovery tool for Mac installed on your computer, just in case.

FAQs About USB Flash Drive Recovery on Mac

  • Where do deleted USB files go on Mac?
    Mac computers do not delete deleted files permanently. Instead, they keep them invisible in respective Trash folders. Each drive you connect to your Mac comes with a respective Trash Bin. If you accidentally delete files on a USB drive, you'll likely find them in the Mac Trash.
  • Why is my USB flash drive full but not showing any files on Mac?
    If your USB drive appears to be full, but you can't see or access any files on your Mac computer, your data is probably hidden. You can undo this by showing hidden files on a Mac. Connect the USB to your computer, open Finder, and select the USB drive to view it in the Locations window. Press Command + Shift + Dot to unhide hidden files and make them appear on the USB drive.
  • How to restore deleted files from a USB flash drive on Mac?
    The easiest way to recover deleted files from a USB flash drive on a Mac is to use Wondershare Recoverit:
    1. Download, install, and launch Wondershare Recoverit on your Mac.
    2. Connect the USB flash drive to your Mac.
    3. Select the USB flash drive in Recoverit and click Scan.
    4. After scanning, preview and select the files you want to recover.
    5. Click Recover and choose a location on your Mac to save the files.
  • How to fix a corrupted USB flash drive and recover data on Mac?
    There are three methods you can use to fix a corrupted USB drive on a Mac:
    • Use the First Aid utility to fix the corruption and retrieve your files;
    • Format the drive to remove USB corruption (erases all data stored on the USB drive);
    • Check for USB driver updates.
Amy Dennis
Amy Dennis May 14, 24
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