How To Recover Disappeared Desktop Files/Folders On Mac?

How To Recover Disappeared Desktop Files-folders
Summary: Most Mac users prefer to keep important or frequently viewed files and folders on the desktop for quick access to them. However, for a variety of reasons, these files or folders might disappear from your desktop. This article will list multiple methods to recover disappeared desktop files/folders on Mac.

Why My Files and Folders Disappeared From Desktop on Mac?

There is no one particular reason behind the issue of files and folders disappearing from desktop on Mac, but the common ones as reported by many users include:

Then where did these disappeared folders go? Based on the reasons we list above, they may be moved to the Trash bin, to a new location, hidden somewhere on your Mac and even deleted permanently. Now, we need to get them back.

Recover Disappeared Desktop Files/Folders on Mac

Method 1: Search Desktop Files Using Spotlight

Spotlight is a built-in search tool in macOS that lets you instantly locate files, documents, and apps on your Mac. Follow the steps below to use Spotlight:

  1. Click the magnifying glass-shaped icon located at the top-right side to launch Spotlight.
  2. In the search field, write the name of the file. If you don’t remember the file name, then you can also search the file with keywords or any text that is inside the file.
  3. The spotlight will present multiple file suggestions that match your searched text. If you find the file you’re looking for, then you can either open it or drag & drop it to the desktop.

Method 2: Recover Mac Desktop Files Through Finder

The Finder window in macOS enables you to browse, search and organize your files in a particular manner that you like. If you can’t find a file or folder, you can find hidden files in Finder in the ways below.

  1. First, relaunch the Finder by clicking the Apple logo at the left top corner. Then click Force Quit Finder > Relaunch.
  2. In Finder, open your Macintosh HD folder. Press the Command + Shift + Dot keys to make the hidden files appear. You can also do the same from inside the Documents, Applications, and Desktop folders.

Method 3: Unhide Mac Desktop Files Through Terminal

You can also view hidden files and folders on Mac using the Terminal command-line interface. It gives you command-based access to your macOS. Follow these steps to use Terminal:

  1. Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Terminal.
  2. Copy and paste the following command: defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE, then press the Return key.
  3. Then type in killall Finder and press Return to stops Finder and then restarts it to make the changes take effect.

When the commands run, you can see your hidden files in Finder and any temporary files saved on the desktop.

Method 4: Disable iCloud Drive Sync

If you are using the macOS Sierra or later on Mac, then you can access the Desktop and Documents folder from the iCloud drive itself by syncing it.

  1. Open the Apple Menu, and click on the System Preferences option, and tap on the iCloud option.
  2. Click on Options and uncheck the box created before the Desktop & Documents Folders option.
  3. Lastly, click on the Done option.

Method 5: Recover Desktop Files/Folders using Time Machine

Time Machine is an in-built application of macOS. It works as a backup feature as it comprises all the files and folders that the system/user has backed up. Time Machine creates hourly backups for the last 24 hours, daily backups, and weekly backups for the past months. Please follow these instructions to recover disappeared desktop files and folders:

  1. Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of the desktop, and select System Preferences.
  2. Find and click on Time Machine, then click the Time Machine icon on the desktop menu bar and click to Enter Time Machine.
  3. Finally, find the disappearing files and folders to be restored according to the timeline on the right, and click the Restore button.

Method 6: Recover Desktop Files/Folders using Bitwar Data Recovery Software

If all the above methods can’t help you recover the disappearing desktop files and folders on Mac, the last method is using a professional data recovery tool like our Bitwar Data Recovery for Mac, which recovers 580+ deleted, formatted, lost and disappeared data from internal & external hard drives, SD memory cards, USB flash drives, or other digital storage media on Windows 10, 8, 7 or up to Mac Catalina 10.15.

The following are the steps to recover the disappearing desktop files and folders using Bitwar Data Recovery Software on Mac:

  1. Download and install the software from Bitwar Official Website.
  2. Launch Bitwar Data Recovery Software, then select the location of the missing or deleted files and click on Next.
  3. Choose the desired Scan Mode and continue with the Next button.
  4. Choose the File Types of the deleted files and followed by clicking Next.
  5. Filter and Preview the scan result from the software. Then click the Recover button to start the recovery.
NOTE: Save all the files to a new safe file location instead of the original file location to prevent data overwritten!


With all the solutions mentioned above, it will become effortless for you to recover disappeared desktop files/folders on Mac. It could be because the file/folder was hidden or got deleted. If the common tips do not help, don’t hesitate to use Bitwar Data Recovery for a high recovery rate to recover lost desktop files on Mac.

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