3 Free Recuva Alternatives for Mac

Are you looking for Recuva to recover deleted or lost files on a Mac? Be aware that there is NOT a macOS version for Recuva, yet. Websites and advertisements that claim to provide Recuva downloads for macOS are either false or misleading.

I love Recuva and I appreciate the Piriform team (also the maker of the world’s famous PC cleaning tool called CCleaner) for providing this free excellent utility. With Recuva, I managed to help a photographer friend recover tons of “deleted” pictures.

Unfortunately, Recuva, like many other Windows data recovery software we tested, is only available to download and use on a Windows PC.

However, several free Mac file recovery apps are good enough to be alternatives to 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 those lost files quickly — without wasting time or money on software offered by “unethical” vendors that provide false information.

Note: I’m not against paid programs, I just dislike their marketing tactics. In fact, there are quite a few good commercial apps. See our best Mac data recovery software roundup.

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 help users undelete files accidentally erased from a computer or storage media such as digital cameras, sd cards, USB flash drives, external hard drives, etc.

The program is designed and developed by a company called Piriform, a privately owned software company based in London, UK.

New update: Piriform was acquired by Avast in 2017, learn more from this press release.

Is There Recuva for Mac?

As I said, Recuva is ONLY available for the 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 what its main interface looks like on a PC.

A screenshot taken on Windows 10

Note: there isn’t a macOS version yet, so you can’t run Recuva on a Mac machine.

Many advertisers claim they offer Recuva for macOS. I tried a few and found that none of them have anything to do with Piriform Recuva — they all turned out to be commercial software that requires payment to activate the recovery function. Worse yet, some even are not compatible with the latest macOS.

Free Alternatives to Recuva on Mac

Please note: The recovery apps listed below are all 100% free to download and use — meaning you can use them without any restrictions.

1. Time Machine

Ah, Time Machine — saved my life several times. If you are new to the Mac world, Time Machine is a backup app built into macOS by default. It works with Apple Time Capsule or an external hard drive to save copies of all the data stored on your Mac computer.

Best to use for: restoring deleted or lost files on Mac, provided that you have a least one timely backup before your files got deleted.


  • Easy and quick to set up.
  • Reliable. You recover almost any files as long as you have proper backups.


  • Does not support recovering lost data from an external storage device.​

Apple has thorough step-by-step instructions on how to use Time Machine to back up 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 out this YouTube clip:

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 drives, 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.
  • Quality of recovered photos is high.​


  • 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 an hour to scan a 32GB Lexar drive.​


Step 1: Connect your device (e.g. a 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 Exif Untrasher. Choose the Source (the disk volume for the scan) and Destination folder (to save recovered items).

Step 4: Once I click the 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? Because it does not support the 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, it 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.

3. PhotoRec

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 photos, videos, documents, archives, and more.

It’s an open-source program available to download and use on multiple operating systems 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 very good word of mouth among computer geeks.

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, 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.​


  • It’s a command-line tool (without graphic interfaces), not suitable for computer novice users.​

How-to Tutorial:

Fortunately, CGSecurity has a detailed step-by-step guide assisting 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:

One More Thing

Due to the complex nature of data loss, it’s not guaranteed that you’ll be able to retrieve all your lost files, nor professional data recovery service companies do. The best way to prevent data disaster is by making solid backups, or “backup of backups” as they say.

Time Machine and Apple Time Capsule are the easiest solutions. You may also consider cheaper backup software or cloud backup services like Backblaze or Google Drive. Or, if you are like me who’s been used to backing up data the traditional way — using an external drive.

Final Words

It can be really nerve-wracking if you have accidentally deleted some important files out of your Mac, digital camera, or a removable disk. I have personally experienced that several times and witnessed friends suffering from data disasters too.

Recuva, a nice free data recovery utility, is often my go-to tool to handle data loss situations. However, the program is only available to use on Windows PCs. There is no Recuva for Mac.

But there are several free alternatives to Recuva that work great on Mac machines. They are Time Machine, Exif Untrasher, and PhotoRec as introduced above. Although each alternative has its own pros and cons as shown in my review, they are all 100% free to try and use without any function restrictions.

Lastly, make sure you always have at least one solid backup​ of your Mac drive data. These days the value of data is much more worthy than the computer or device itself.

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  • Geoff Tuke

    my mac says it can’t read the drive so won’t mount it. it’s the old boot drive from my pc. is there anything i can do here?
    thank you in advance for any suggestions you may have

    • Avatar photo

      Hi Geoff, thanks for your comment. Well, it’s hard to give suggestions for this kind of problems — you know, PC and Mac don’t work well with each other. File system compatibility would be the main concern. Anyway, you may check out this post or this MacWorld article to learn more. Good luck.