There’s NO Recuva for Mac, But Here Are 3 Great Free Alternatives
Are you looking for Recuva to recover lost files on a Mac? Beware that there isn't a Mac version for Recuva. Web sites and advertisements that claim to provide Recuva download for macOS are either false or misleading.
I love Recuva, and I appreciate the Piriform team for developing this free excellent utility, which managed to help me and my photographer friends undelete tons of "almost lost" pictures. Unfortunately, the data recovery program is only available to download and use on a Windows PC.
However, several free Mac file recovery apps are good enough to be alternatives of Recuva. In this article, I'm going to share them with you. I'll also show you how to use them step by step.
My goal is simple: to help you get back the deleted or lost files in a hassle-free manner — without wasting time or money on those commercial software that provide false information. I'm not against paid apps, I just dislike their unethical marketing tactics.
What is Recuva?
For those of you who are new to the program, Recuva (like the name indicates) is a free recovery tool that runs on Windows-based computers to undelete accidentally erased files from your computer or a storage media such as digital cameras, memory cards, USB sticks, external hard drives, and more. The software is designed and developed by a company called Piriform based in the UK. You can get the free version here.
Recuva for Mac OS?
As I said, Recuva is ONLY available for Windows operating system. Piriform claims it's compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 7, Vista and XP (both 32-bit and 64-bit). Here's how its main interface looks like on a PC.
Note: there isn't a macOS version yet, thus you can't run Recuva on a Mac machine.
Many advertisers claiming they offer Recuva for Mac OS X (just do a quick Google search and you'll find them out). I've actually tried a few, and none of them have anything to do with Recuva — they all turned out to be commercial Mac recovery software that charge you money. Worse yet, some even not compatible with latest macOS.
3 Great Recuva Alternatives for Mac (& How-to Tutorials)
Please note: the programs I'm sharing below are all free to download and use. They are neither free trials or evaluations, which means you can use them without any functional restrictions — unlike paid data rescue software that typically allows you to scan a drive, preview found files. But eventually, you'll have to take your credit card out to purchase a license in order to fully recover and save the found items.
#1: Time Machine
Ah, Time Machine — saved my life several times. If you are new to the Mac world, Time Machine is a backup software application built with Apple macOS operating system. It works with Time Capsule or other internal and external hard drive to save copies of all the data on your Mac computer.
Best to use for: restoring deleted or lost files stored on your Mac, and you've got a least one timely backup before your files are lost.
- It's easy and quick to set up.
- Reliable. You recover almost any files as long as you have proper backups.
- It does not support recovering lost data from an external storage device.
Apple has a very thorough tutorial on how to use Time Machine to backup and restore data. As long as you have backed up your Mac before, it's almost guaranteed that you can restore any individual files or the whole Mac.
If you prefer a video tutorial, check this out. Scott made a 2-minute YouTube clip on how to use Time Machine to restore a single or several files on your Mac.
#2: Exif Untrasher
Another great alternative to Recuva for Mac users. Exif Untrasher is an app that is able to locate deleted photos (JPEG format only) on any external storage media such as SD/CF cards, memory sticks, USB drives, external hard drive, etc. and retrieve the pictures back to your Mac. Exif Untrasher performs read-only operations and does not alter your removable drive. Thus it's pretty safe to use. The app is compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 or higher.
Best to use for: recovering JPEG pictures lost due to accidental deletion, disk formatting, memory card crash, etc.
- It's free.
- Easy to set up, and the app interface is intuitive.
- The quality of recovered photos is high.
- It does not support scanning internal Mac hard drive.
- Only JPEG format is supported, no camera RAW images or other video formats.
- Disk scanning process is slow. It took me about an hour to scan a 32GB Lexar flash drive.
Step 1: Connect your device (e.g. a camera memory card) to your Mac. I'm here to use a Lexar flash drive as an example.
Step 2: Go to Exif Untrasher's official website. Download and install the app on your Mac.
Step 3: Launch the Exif Untrasher app. Choose the Source (the disk volume for the scan) and Destination folder (to save recovered items).
Step 4: Once I click Choose Source button, it asks me to choose the volume that represents the storage medium I want to scan. The app recognizes my Lexar flash drive. Notice the "Macintosh HD" is grayed out? That's because it does not support internal Mac hard drive.
Step 5: After I select my Lexar drive and click OK. It will create a disk image (named "Lexar (Copy).dmg").
Step 6: Now the disk image is being created.
Step 7: Soon I can click the "Start data recovery" button on the main window.
Step 8: Now it's the time-consuming part. Since my Lexar USB key has 32GB volume, seems too large for Exif Untrasher to scan. It took me about an hour or so to finish the process.
Step 9: When Exif Untrasher completes restoration, it will inform you and automatically open the destination folder you selected in Step 3. Now take a closer look at the folder to see if your lost pictures are there.
Don't be fooled by the name. PhotoRec is actually a powerful data recovery software that is capable of retrieving a variety of file formats including not only photos, but also videos, documents, and archives. It's an open source (100% free) program available to download and use on multiple platforms like Windows, macOS, and Linux. Together with its companion program called TestDisk which can be used to fix disk partition issues, the software has a pretty good word of mouth out there among computer users.
Best to use for: those who are comfortable with operating via Terminal (yes, it's a command line tool) to rescue deleted or lost files.
- It's open source program, totally free.
- Support recovering various types of files from both Mac hard drive and external storage devices.
- The scanning and recovery process is relatively quick.
- Command line tool (without graphic interfaces), maybe not suitable for computer novice users.
Fortunately, CGSecurity has a very comprehensive step by step guide to assist you throughout the whole process. You should have no problem using the software if you follow the instructions. For those of you who prefer watching video tutorials, here is a nice one made by AJ Reissig:
It can be really scaring if you have accidentally deleted some files out of your computer, digital camera, or a removable disk. I have personally experienced that upset feeling and witnessed friends suffering that as well.
Recuva, a nice free data recovery utility, is often my first go-to-tool to handle these data loss situations. However, the program is only available to use on Windows PCs. There is no Recuva for Mac OS X (now macOS since 10.12 Sierra).
But, there are several great alternatives to Recuva that work on Mac machines. They are: Time Machine, Exif Untrasher, and PhotoRec. Although each of the three options I introduced above has its own pros and cons (as shown in my review), they are all 100% free to download and use without function restrictions.
Final note: due to the complex nature of data loss, I can't guarantee that you will retrieve all your lost files, nor data recovery service companies do. The best way to prevent data disaster is by making solid backups via Time Machine or many other options.