How to Recover Deleted Pictures from iPhoto or Photos App on Mac

mac photos recovery

So you just deleted some pictures in iPhoto (or the new Photos app) on Mac, and now you want them back?

Or maybe you had some items failing to be transferred during a sync, and you couldn’t find the files in either iPhoto or your devices such as an iPhone or iPad?

In this guide, we are going to show you how to recover deleted pictures from iPhoto (or Photos app) on Mac.

Update: Apple has introduced the new Photos app since OS X Yosemite, to replace the old iPhoto application. That means if your Mac is with a relatively older OS X version, you’ll see iPhoto rather than Photos.

1. Look up iPhoto Trash or “Recently Deleted” on Photos App

In iPhoto, there is a Trash bin located on the left sidebar. When you delete an item, check the Trash. If you have clicked Empty Trash, don’t worry. The files go to the Mac Trash which is usually located in the Dock, so look up there too. If you find them, you can easily recover them by clicking the Put-Back option.

In the Photos app, there isn’t a Trash. Instead, it’s called “Recently Deleted”. You’ll find it under “Albums” on the Photos app.

iOS Recently Deleted folder

Keep in mind that the “Recently Deleted” folder will only keep your deleted pictures for up to 40 days. After that period, items will be automatically deleted.

2. Check The IPhoto Or Photos Library

iPhoto, or the Photos app, stores all your items in its library. You can access that folder to see if your lost files are there.

To do so, on your desktop, click Go > Computer > Macintosh HD > Users > your username > Pictures > Photos Library, right-click and select Show Package Contents, and open the “Masters” folder, here you may be able to find your images or videos.

3. Repair & Restore Missing Items via Library First Aid

Library First Aid was a function developed by Apple to rebuild or repair your library.

If you use iPhoto, learn how to repair it by watching this easy-to-follow video (less than 2 minutes)

If you use the Photos app, quit the app first, then go to Applications, find the Photos app icon. Now press the keys Command + Option and double click the Photos app icon, this will bring you to a window like below.

Photos app repairing library

Hit Repair. You’ll be prompted to enter the admin password to continue.

Once the repair is complete, check back your Photos app, see if your missing pictures or videos are alive now.

Apple recommends backing up your photo library before proceeding just in case.

4. Use Third-Party Photo Recovery Software

If if you have tried all the methods above, and you still can’t find you deleted or lost photos. A third-party photo recovery software might be your last resort. We recommend the following apps:

Stellar Photo Recovery for Mac — best for recovering lost images, videos, and songs from both the internal Mac hard drive and external storage devices. If your iPhoto (or Photos) items got deleted from Trash, you could recover them using this software.

PhoneRescue — best for recovering different types of files from an iPhone/iPad, and extracting iTunes and iCloud backups to restore your lost items. It may help you find your lost iPhoto/Photos pictures.

Final Words

In the digital age, photos mean the whole world to us, we can’t afford to lose them. If you use the iPhoto or Photos app to manage your pictures, chances are they can be deleted or missing due to human errors or technical reasons. But it’s not too late to recover the items if you take action quickly.

I hope you’ve retrieved your lost items using one of the methods above. Remember to back up your photos to multiple devices or to a cloud storage service such as Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.

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  • Nicole

    I went into an old version of Iphoto to retrieve a cherished photo of my deceased dog 🙁 quit out of that afterwards and returned to my newer version of iPhoto and… the last three years of photos are gone. Are they lost lost? Should i start crying? Do you have any advise? thanks in advance.

  • Too Tall

    I liked the way iPhoto was before the change, why do they make changes that are not bettering anything? They make changes just to make them I think, and every time they do, the system has bugs. I liked the way everything in Snow Leopard worked, but I had to update just to get the computer to recognize my printer, or so Apple said. They could have just sent me the driver needed, but no, I had to update… and they did so free of charge, but I cannot say El Capitan or the more recent updates are better at all.

  • Charlotte Hunter

    Great tips, the iphoto library recovery instructions and video worked for us. Thank you!

  • NKay

    Hi! what if my IMAC screen turned black and had sent it for a repair. And now it is in a good condition. but then all the photos in my imac is missing! can i get back all my photos in iphoto and other places? do i still have to use this method or other method?

    Hoping that you can reply me ASAP since there is a lot of important pictures in it.