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How To Recover Files From Formatted Hard Drive Mac

Whether you’re the victim of an accidental reformatting or a corrupted drive, it can be heart-wrenching to think of losing all your precious data forever. The special moments captured in family photos. The vital tax documents. The work-related spreadsheets. And yes, even the saved game files you spent far too much time on.

  1. How To Recover Files From Formatted Hard Drive Mac Compatible

But luckily, a formatting error doesn’t mean your data is gone for good. There are a few simple steps you can take to get your files back—permanently.

Yes, you can recover any formatted hard drive on Mac and Windows. In fact, there are several ways how you can approach the task. One of the best ways to recover a formatted hard drive on Mac and Windows is to use a data recovery software application and let it handle the dirty work while you kick back and wait for your files to reappear. In the end, there is absolutely no doubt that iBeesoft Data Recovery software for Mac is the ideal tool to recover data from formatted hard drive Mac. You can easily follow this article and recover data by restoring from time machine but you know that the easiest way to recover data from formatted drive Mac is by using the program. Part 2: Format External Hard Drive for Mac with Disk Utility Reformatting an external hard drive for use with Mac OS is not as difficult as it might seem. In a few simple steps you are ready to go and can save your back-up files to the external drive, keeping your information safe and giving you peace of mind. Free Download Hard Drive Data Recovery Software to Recover Files. As mentioned above, to recover data from a formatted hard drive, you will have to proceed with the use of disk recovery software. The most advanced and better-placed software to help you recover your formatted hard drive is iBatsoft Data Recovery. How to Recover Files From a Formatted Hard Drive on a Mac. There are a few ways to recover deleted files on a Mac. But when it comes to getting your data back from a formatted hard drive, your best bet is to use third-party software to get your data back (a.k.a, “unformat your Mac hard drive”).

This guide shows you the three best options if you want to recover your formatted Mac hard drive data.

Can You Recover a Formatted Hard Drive on Mac?

The short answer here is yes, you can recover a formatted hard drive on Mac.

When you format a hard drive, you’re preparing it to use a specific file format system. On the surface, this process erases all of the information on the drive—a terrifying prospect if you aren’t expecting it.

However, your data isn’t actually gone here as long as:

  • you used quick formatting rather than full formatting (default on macOS);
  • if you’re using an HDD (things get a bit trickier on SSDs thanks to TRIM, which deletes data permanently to boost performance).
Instead, it’s more like the process makes your information invisible. It’s only after you write new data over the existing data is your information lost completely.

As a result, you can recover those “lost” files. But to do so successfully, you need to follow these steps before you can hope to recover your files from an erased hard drive on Mac.

  1. Immediately stop using the drive. Every moment you continue to write new information to that drive, your chances of recovering your lost data are less and less.
  2. Find a data recovery solution. This guide outlines four of the best solutions out there (three that are software and one that’s a service). More on those in a bit.
  3. Cross your fingers. As long as you don’t use your hard drive immediately after formatting, chances are good you can recover your data. But some factors, like your hard drive type, can end up making recovery impossible.

A Quick Guide on the Basics of Formatting

To better understand how you can recover files from a formatted hard drive on Mac, it’s best to get a basic grasp of what formatting means.

In most cases, formatting a hard drive refers to creating or changing a drive’s format system. All drives need a format system. Simply put, the format is the specific way information on the drive is organized. Without that system of organization, the data won’t make any sense to the system reading it.

Now, different operating systems can only read the data according to specific file systems. Modern Macs are compatible with three file systems: Apple File System (APFS), Mac OS Extended (HFS+), and MS-DOS (FAT)&exFAT (also compatible with Microsoft).

As a result, you may find yourself needing to reformat a drive to make it compatible with your Mac. Fixing a corrupted hard drive may also mean you need to reformat. And you may have even reformatted your drive entirely by accident.

No matter why you’ve formatted your drive, you may still be able to get your files back since those files aren’t gone until you write new info on the drive.

How to Recover Files From a Formatted Hard Drive on a Mac

There are a few ways to recover deleted files on a Mac. But when it comes to getting your data back from a formatted hard drive, your best bet is to use third-party software to get your data back (a.k.a, “unformat your Mac hard drive”). Don’t worry—it’s not as scary as it sounds.

Below are the three best options we’ve found for formatted Mac hard drive recovery.

FreemiumDisk Drill for MacPlatform: Windows, macOS
FreewarePhotoRecPlatform: Windows, macOS, Linux
FreemiumEaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for MacPlatform: Windows, macOS

Option A: Disk Drill for Mac

Disk Drill is without a doubt our go-to option if we want to recover files from an erased hard drive on Mac. Among the best data recovery software options out there, Disk Drill is remarkably simple to use. And it boasts an impressive 90% recovery rate—not bad at all.

This data recovery software is free to use and capable of recovering hundreds of file formats from storage devices. Whether your drive is formatted, corrupted, or even perfectly healthy, Disk Drill is an excellent tool for data recovery.

To “drill down” into the specifics about Disk Drill, have a look at our in-depth review. You can also check out this comprehensive review of Disk Drill for macOS.

To recover your deleted files from a formatted Mac hard drive using Disk Drill:

  1. Download Disk Drill and install it on your Mac by dragging the icon to the Applications folder.
  2. Launch Disk Drill and grant it full disk access (required if you want Disk Drill to find your lost files).
  3. Choose the formatted hard drive you want to scan and click the “Search for lost data” button to start the scan.
  4. Wait for the scan to finish. It may take several minutes, depending on the size of your drive.
  5. Click “Review found items” to view the found files (or click “Recover all” to relocate everything found on the drive).
  6. Find the files you’re looking for. Click the eye icon next to the files to preview them.
  7. Select the files you want to restore and click the “Recover” button.
  8. Choose the destination you’d like to restore them to and click the “OK” button. Make sure you don’t restore to the same drive to avoid overwriting the data.

Option B: PhotoRec

PhotoRec is another data recovery software option. It’s completely open-source, which means you won’t have to pay to use it. You’ll have to download and install two additional pieces of software to access it though, Homebrew and TestDisk.

It also doesn’t have a graphical interface (maybe a turn-off for some). But rest assured, it’s a snap to navigate.

Take a look at our detailed review on PhotoRec to learn more about using this recovery software.

To recover your files from a formatted Mac hard drive using PhotoRec:

  1. Install Homebrew by navigating to Terminal (Command + Space, then type “Terminal”). Then copy and enter this command:

    You may need to enter your Mac user password. Do so and hit Enter (your screen will not show your password as you type as a security measure).

  2. Enter the following command to install TestDisk:
  3. Run PhotoRec by entering the following command:
  4. Choose your drive from the populated list. If your formatted disk is not showing, check that it’s correctly connected to your Mac and relaunch PhotoRec.
  5. Select the type of file format that the storage device uses.
  6. Select the location you’d like to save the deleted files. You can’t select the individual files on the drive, so be sure you put them in a location that’s easy to navigate, as PhotoRec will recover all the files it finds.
  7. PhotoRec will then start recovering your missing files. You’ll receive a notification when the process is over. You’ll also be able to see how much of your data PhotoRec was able to recover. After that, head to the location you selected, and your recovered files will be there, good as new.

Option C: EaseUS Mac Data Recovery Software

Another option to recover an erased hard drive on Mac is EaseUS. Featuring a smooth graphical interface, plenty of compatible file types, and yes, a free option, EaseUS is a favorite for data recovery.

That being said, you’re limited to 2GB of recovered files with the free version, which may be less than some users hoped. The paid plans may also be out of some people’s price range.

We’ve talked about EaseUS before. And if you want to get a better idea of how this recovery software stacks up, take a look at our comprehensive EaseUS review here.

To use EaseUS to restore a formatted hard drive on Mac:

  1. Download and install EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. You’ll want to make sure you’re downloading the “Free” version rather than the “Trial” version. The free version lets you recover up to 2GB of files. With the trial version, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan to recover any files.
  2. Grant EaseUS permissions to access your drives (required for data recovery).
  3. Choose the formatted drive you’d like to recover files from and click the “Scan” button.
  4. Wait for the scan to complete. It may take a while, depending on the size of your drive.
  5. Drill down through the file locations to find the files you’d like to recover. You can double-click the files to generate a preview. After you’ve chosen your files, click the “Recover Now” button.
  6. Choose where to save your recovered files and then click the “Save” button. Your files will then transfer to that location where you can interact with them like usual. Remember, you’re limited to restoring just 2GB of files using EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

How To Recover Files From Formatted Hard Drive Mac Compatible

Honorable Mention: Professional Data Recovery Service

If the free options above don’t work for you (or you simply want to leave your data recovery to the professionals), you can also reach out to a data recovery service.

These services specialize in getting your data back, no matter the cause of loss. They use specialized tools, advanced recovery methods, and a wealth of experience to achieve the best results possible.

It’s worth noting that a professional data recovery specialist will be able to restore data from mechanically damaged drives (which is outside the limits of most free software). They may also offer a warranty on their work—if they can’t recover your data, you don’t pay.

Wondering where to find the best professional data recovery service? Wonder no more. We have already put together a list of the five best data recovery services in the industry.


Below are just a few of the most frequently asked questions about how to recover a formatted Mac hard drive.


Yes, you can recover data from a Mac hard drive to a PC. However, the simplicity of the process will depend on what file format system you’re using.

If your Mac hard drive uses the unencrypted HFS+ format, you can use data recovery software like Disk Drill to recover the files and save them to your PC, no reformatting required.

If you are not using an HFS+ format (like APFS, for instance), you’ll need to follow the steps outlined in this guide.

There are quite a few options out there. But we’ve found the best data recovery software for Mac is Disk Drill.

Disk drill is easy to navigate, simple to use, highly effective, and can recover over 400 different file types.

Plus, there’s a free version so you can test out the interface risk-free.

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t have any data recovery software. Time Machine can be helpful if you’ve been running regular backups. And if you’re near an Apple store, you can visit the Apple Genius Bar to see if they can help.

Your best bet, then, is using data recovery software to find deleted files or recover a formatted hard drive on Mac.

Three file formats are compatible with macOS: Apple File System (APFS), Mac OS Extended (HFS+), and MS-DOS (FAT) & exFAT.

When you format your external hard drive, you’ll need to ensure you select one of those three file formats for it to be compatible with macOS.

If you’re using the hard drive for both Windows and your Mac, select the exFAT file format when formatting the hard drive. It’s the only file format that’s compatible with both systems.


An accidentally formatted hard drive on Mac may seem like it spells disaster for your files. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can.

But with the solutions outlined above, you can bring your data back from the abyss. Best of all, the strategies are uncomplicated, widely available, and inexpensive (even free). And with them, you can get rid of that lump in your throat and recover your files from a formatted hard drive on Mac before you know it.

  • This is also the case if you accidentally formatted a hard drive and need to recover important files. In the case of “Physical Damage,” things get a little more complicated. You’ll have to seek professional help, and we’ve outlined how the process typically goes below (method #3).
  • To restore files using data recovery software, you need to: Download and install Disk Drill on your Mac. Connect the external hard drive to your computer. Launch the program and select the hard drive from the disk list. Click the Search for lost data button to scan for deleted files.

Data loss these days is rare. With local device storage, external hard drives, and cloud backups, our data is usually in more than one place. However, data loss can still happen and it’s important to know how to recover data in the event that we have lost important information.

May 20, 2021 To recover Mac formatted data from an external hard drive to a PC you need to use data recovery software. Follow this procedure to recover using Disk Drill for Windows: Connect the drive to your PC. Make sure you do NOT format the drive at this point by clicking Cancel if Windows prompts you for formatting. Download, install and launch Disk Drill. Feb 22, 2021 Plug-in your external hard drive. Launch Finder and then open Time Machine. Once within Time Machine, we can recover files from an external hard drive on Mac by either using the up and down arrows or use the date slider at the lower right-hand side to scroll through different dates and times.

In this article, we’re going to look at how to recover data from an external hard drive on Mac and other methods that can be used to get data back after it has been deleted.

What if My Mac Can’t Recognize My Hard Drive?

The first thing that we need to do is make sure that our Mac can recognize our external hard drive as we can’t start data recovery without our Mac being able to see it. If your external hard drive is showing up already, then you can move down to Recovering Data From an External Hard Drive on Mac.

If you plug your external hard drive into your Mac and nothing happens, don’t worry the drive most likely isn’t broken. There are some steps that we can take to try and get the external hard drive to be recognized.

Do keep in mind though, that external hard drives can fail even though it is not likely. They’re mechanical devices with moving parts which over time, can stop working if they have been subjected to damage or have failing components.

Before we come to that conclusion though, here are some ways to try and get your external hard drive to mount to your Mac.

Is It a Windows Formatted Drive?

If you were using the hard drive on Windows, your Mac won’t be able to read it unless it has been formatted to the macOS file system. If you were using the hard drive on a Windows machine, it would be a good idea to plug it into a Windows computer and see if it is showing up there.

Fix 1: Restart Your Mac

As cliche as it may sound, restarting your Mac can fix a lot of issues on its own. The simple “turn it off and back on again” is a good way to troubleshoot issues and should allow for the hard drive to mount to your Mac.

Step 1. Unplug your external hard drive from your Mac.

Step 2. Restart your Mac.

Step 3. Once your Mac has booted back up, plug in the external hard drive and see if it is functioning correctly.

Fix 2: Check Your External Hard Drive’s Connection

The issue could also be something as simple as the cable that you’re trying to use to connect the hard drive to your Mac. Cables do fail, if you have a spare around, try using that instead and see if that fixes the issue.

It could also be the port on your Mac. Try plugging the external hard drive into another port and see if the hard drive mounts to your computer.

Lastly, if you’re using an adapter or dongle try plugging the external hard drive right into your computer and see if that fixes the issue. If you need the dongle due to a connector compatibility issue, try using a different dongle or plug it into another computer.

Fix 3: Reset NVRAM

NVRAM in short, stores settings that you have made on your Mac. It won’t change the configuration of your System Preferences, but it stores things such as sound settings, time zone information, and settings related to hard drives.

Resetting your NVRAM could solve the problem of your hard drive not being recognized by your Mac and it only takes a few steps to reset it.

Step 1. Shut down or restart your Mac.

Step 2. Once your Mac starts back up, immediately press and hold Option, Command, P, and R all together at the same time.

Your Mac will then start back up again and you can let go of the keys at this point. Check and see if the external hard drive is now being recognized by your computer.

When I worked at an Apple Store, this would fix common issues for customers and it is a simple way to troubleshoot why your external hard drive may not be mounted to your Mac.

Repair the External Hard Drive Using Disk Utility

Hopefully, the external hard drive is now showing up on your Mac. If it is, it would be best to repair it using the First Aid tool which can be found in Disk Utility, and then we can try and recover the data from it.

Disk Utility has a feature called First Aid which will find and repair disk errors. First Aid can find and repair errors related to the formatting and directory structure of the external hard drive which could increase the chance of external hard drive data recovery on Mac.

Repairing it first will lead to a better chance of having successful data recovery and will improve the health of the hard drive itself.

Step 1. Plug-in your external hard drive.

Step 2. Launch Disk Utility and find the external hard drive.

Step 3. Run First Aid on the External Hard Drive.

Now we can move onto data recovery solutions.

How to Recover Files by Checking the Trash

Before troubleshooting the external hard drive for data recovery, you may be able to find some of the lost files in the Trash on your Mac. This would be the easiest way to find lost files and it’s always worth checking and seeing if you can find your files here as it’s really easy to recover them.

When you delete a file on your Mac or your external hard drive, it will go into the Trash. The trash is in place to make sure that you have an extra layer of security when deleting files from various storage devices.

Recovering files from your Trash is super easy and the files will stay there forever unless you have your Trash set to empty on its own. If you want to set your Trash to empty on its own, you can do so by going to your Finder preferences.

In the steps below, we’re going to look at how to recover files from the trash which only takes a couple of steps and is super easy to do.

Step 1. Click the Trash icon on your dock.

Step 2. Once you have opened your Trash, select the files that you would like to recover. After you have selected them, right-click on them and choose Put Back.

The files will then be put back to the original place that they were before they were deleted. Most of the time, this is the method that you will be able to use to recover files, and trying to access your external hard drive won’t be necessary.

If you have already emptied your Trash or have it set to empty after 30 days, then we can move onto Time Machine as the next method for recovering data from your external hard drive.

How to Recover Files Using Time Machine

Every Mac comes with Apple’s built-in Time Machine tool which allows us to take a look into our external hard drive and recover files and put them right back onto our Mac.

Step 1. Plug-in your external hard drive.

Step 2. Launch Finder and then open Time Machine.

Step 3. Once within Time Machine, we can recover files from an external hard drive on Mac by either using the up and down arrows or use the date slider at the lower right-hand side to scroll through different dates and times.

Step 4. Simply find the date that you think that you last had the data that you’re wanting to recover, and then navigate through the Finder and locate the file. You can then click on Restore and put that file back onto your Mac.

Time Machine is great because it’s easy to understand, takes only a few steps, and has a graphical interface that isn’t cluttered with things that don’t need to be there.

External Hard Drive Data Recovery Software

If you were unable to recover data using Time Machine, don’t worry! There are other options for recovering your data. In this section, we will look at how to recover deleted files from an external hard drive using third-party data recovery software.

Disk Drill allows us to recover data from an external hard drive. If the external hard drive isn’t working or if you accidentally deleted a file off of it, we can scan the drive and try to find the data that was lost. If you’re wondering “How do I recover files from an external hard drive that’s not detected?” sometimes Disk Drill may be able to see the external hard drive, even if Time Machine can’t.

Step 1. Launch Disk Drill.

Step 2. Select your external hard drive as the device to scan.

Step 3. Wait for the scan process to complete.

Step 4. Browse through the contents and checkmark the items that you would like to recover. You will then want to click the blue Recover button in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.

Accidentally Formatted External Hard Drive How To Recover Machine

Step 5. After clicking on Recover, you will then have to choose a recovery destination for the files to be saved to.

That’s it! Disk Drill is great at helping you recover files from an external hard drive if you can’t find them on the drive or if the drive is failing.


Knowing how to recover files from an external hard drive on Mac is an essential skill to know when it comes to the data on your computer. It will save you tons of money as you won’t have to pay a computer technician to recover your data and you don’t have to worry as much about losing your data on your Mac.

Format vs Unformat
How to Unformat Hard Drive with Data Recovery Software
Why Can We Unformat HDD?

Format vs Unformat

Format: It is the process of preparing a partition for data storage by deleting all the data on it and set up a file system for the drive. You will need to format a hard drive in some specific situations like when your hard drive has a RAW file system, Windows reports 'disk not formatted', or your hard drive is infected by a virus. In addition to these cases, you may accidentally format your hard drive or external storage devices, which happens frequently among users.

Unformat: It is the process of recovering data from a formatted storage device, be it a hard drive, a USB flash drive, or an SD card. Unformatting a hard drive is needed when users want to recover their data lost due to format. It can only be done with third-party software or manual data recovery services.

How to Unformat a Hard Drive with Data Recovery Software

To avoid any chance of data overwriting, don't put files into your hard drive after the format. Although putting data on the disk won't necessarily cause data overwriting, once data is overwritten, there is no chance to get it back.

To unformat hard drive, in other words, users need to recover all data that wiped from the hard drive. As mentioned before, you have to pick up a data recovery service to execute the recovering process. Here we recommend a hard drive recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. It could help you unformat the HDD and get your files back in simple steps.

Besides recovering data from formatted hard drive, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can do more for you:

  • Recover All Kinds of Lost Data. It also supports to recover deleted files emptied from the Recycle Bin or data lost due to partition loss, software crash, virus infection, boot-up problem, or other reasons.
  • Recover Data from Various Devices. It can also perform data recovery from USB flash drives, memory cards, digital cameras, and other conventional storage devices.
  • Preview Before Recovery. To make sure the file contents are alright, it enables you to preview lost files before the actual recovery.

Now download the EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and follow the guide below to unformat HDD.

Steps to Unformat HDD with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard:

Note: To guarantee a high data recovery chance, please install EaseUS data recovery software on another disk instead of the formatted disk.

Step 1. Click the hard drive that has been formatted by mistake and click 'Scan'.

Step 2. The software starts scanning all lost data on the selected hard drive.

You can use 'Filter' to specific file type if you have difficulty in looking for wanted files. You can also search the file extension of lost files , such as .png, .doc or .mp4, etc. or input its file name in the Search box to quickly locate them.

Step 3. Finally, select to preview all the wanted files and click 'Recover'. Choose a new location to store the files and click 'OK'.

Accidentally Formatted External Hard Drive How To Recover Mac Files

As long as your formatted files are not overwritten by new content, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will help to get back all your lost files from the hard drive. If the

You may need further help for tough data loss situations like reformatting drive, RAW disk, partition loss, repartition failures, and system boot error. Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for cost-efficient one-on-one manual recovery service. They could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:
1. Unformat the drive
2. Repair the RAID, RAW disk, or operating system
3. Recover lost partition (the one that cannot be recovered by software)

Why Can We Unformat HDD?

In this part, we will demonstrate the theory of unformatting a hard drive. If you want to know why a formatted hard drive can be recovered. Keep reading and check more details.

For all the storage devices, there are two types of format: quick format and full format. A quick format only writes the blocks that contain the file system structure and delete all files from the device, while a full format writes zeroes to all data sectors. After a quick format, the data are still on the hard drive and you just don't have the access to it. By rebuilding the volume, you can access and recover the formatted files.

Accidentally Formatted External Hard Drive How To Recover Mac Mail

However, as mentioned, overwritten data cannot be recovered, which means the data lost after a full format cannot be retrieved. Luckily, in Windows, a quick format is the default format option. Thus, if you accidentally formatted a hard drive, it is a quick format and you can unformat your hard drive using data recovery software.

The Bottom Line

When you accidentally formatted a hard drive, USB flash drive, memory card, or other storage devices, don't worry. Stop using your device and apply data recovery software to unformat your hard drive. Then you will get all your files back.