Effective Solutions for “Desktop Files Disappeared on Mac”

“All my files are gone from Mac after update." No worries, we will guide you on how you can retrieve the disappeared files from Mac.

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• Filed to: Mac Recovery • Proven solutions

Along with the latest updates in the Mac OS X, it seems like the issues faced during and after the update are also upgrading with the macOS. Many people have reported that after the macOS Mojave update, all files disappeared from Mac. It can be troublesome when you have no backup for the files.

If you think that your important files are gone for good, then think again. In this article, we are going to explore the possible methods on how to recover files on Mac desktop. No matter how you lost the files, we have a tool that can help you to retrieve them all as soon as possible.

Part 1. Possible Reasons for “Desktop Files Disappeared on Mac”

There are certain causes that led to disappearing files from Mac. Most of them can be narrowed down to 3 reasons which are given below:

1. iCloud Sync

The main reason that results in disappearing of files is when you disable the iCloud Sync. When the Sync is enabled, the desktop files will be synced with the iCloud Drive. And when you disable the sync and then delete the files from the computer, the files are removed from the desktop but still, exist in the iCloud Drive.

If you delete the files when the sync is enabled, the file will be deleted from the computer and the iCloud drive as well.

2. Files Are Deleted Due to Mis-Operations

Sometimes, when we are in a hurry to complete a task, we often press the wrong keys or drag the files to another location accidentally. This also results in missing of files as you can’t locate them in the system without remembering the file name.

3. Accidental Deletion

While we organize our Mac, deleting the useless files in a hurry often causes deletion of important files. Cleaning up Mac can cost you a lot if you are not careful.

Other than these, virus attack, file corruption, any other issues can also lead to the disappearance of files. But you should know how to locate files on Mac too. Sometimes, the files are not missing at all, they are just displaced. So, all you need to do is to look for them on your Mac.

Part 2. Effective Solutions for the Problem “Desktop Files Disappeared on Mac”

To resolve the problem of disappeared files, you can try the solutions we have provided. Hopefully, one of the methods will come in handy to fix the issue.

1. Check Whether they are Hidden

It is not a trick; most of the people hide their files to keep them safe from random people. Whether you have lost files on Mac or they are simply hidden, you can look for them by following the steps below:

Step 1 Open the Terminal app from the Utilities and type the following command- cd /Users/username/Desktop and hit enter. Then type ls and again hit the enter key to view the desktop files and folder.


Step 2 If you can see the files in the results but they are not showing on the desktop, it means they are hidden. So, all you need to do is to unhide them and you’ll have your files back.

2. Use Search Box

If you don’t know how to locate hidden files on Mac, then simply try out the Spotlight Search. Open Spotlight by using the following method:

Step 1 Press the Command + Space key to open Spotlight search.

Step 2 Type the file name if you remember it and the results will come up on the screen.


3. Use Mac Terminal

To locate the files disappeared from Mac desktop, you only need to access the Terminal app from the Utilities and follow the given steps:

Step 1 Make sure that the files are hidden. If you want to make the hidden files visible again, run the Terminal app and type the command as- defaults write com.Apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true and then type killall Finder.


Step 2 Make sure that you hit enter between the commands. The True or False status signifies whether the files are hidden or not. This will display the hidden files and folder from the desktop and you can access them anytime

4. Use Time Machine

If you have made a backup of the files stored on your Mac, then you don’t need to worry. The Time Machine backup can help if the Mac files disappeared from the desktop suddenly. Follow the steps below:

Step 1 Connect the drive on which you have saved the Time Machine Backup and click on the Enter Time Machine option.


Step 2 Slowly scroll through the backup and see which backup contains the lost files. Select the file and restore it on your Mac.


And you will have the lost files back on your system.

5. Disable iCloud Sync and Restore Your Desktop Documents

If the desktop files disappeared on Mac, then the first and foremost reason might be iCloud Sync. In the latest version of Mac such as macOS Mojave and High Sierra, the system allows the users to put Desktop and Documents folder in the iCloud Drive. Thus, you can access them from any device connected to your Apple account. As you disable the settings, the files and folder will be moved to the iCloud section in the sidebar of Finder. Just follow the steps below:

Step 1 Go to the Apple menu and open System Preferences. There you will find the iCloud option.

Step 2 Open iCloud and click on the Options button. You will see several options which enlist files and apps that can be synced with the iCloud drive. Uncheck the Desktop & Documents folder.


Step 3 As you click on done, you will be prompted that the files will be deleted from the Desktop but still exist in the Drive.

Now you can simply drag the files from the drive to the desktop and you’ll have them back.

Part 3. Restore Disappeared Files or Folder from Mac with Mac Data Recovery Software [Recommended]

The most effective solution for your problem is using Recoverit (IS) for Mac. Let’s learn more about the software.

Even though you have a backup of your data files, it is evident that at some point of life, you are likely to lose them. But the good news is nothing is lost forever on a Mac. You just need a tool which is capable of retrieving the lost files. Luckily, iSkysoft can help you to recover missing files on Mac. It is a powerful tool which allows the users to recover almost everything on your MacBook including photos, videos, documents, emails, and other data. Whether you lost files from a hard drive or a flash drive or a digital camera, the software will restore the files instantly.

Recoverit (IS) for Mac

A Life Saver to Solve Your Data Loss Problems!

  • It is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating system.
  • It supports a large number of storage device type including hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, etc.
  • All major types of files can be recovered including music, images, video, documents, emails, and archives.
  • It has a deep scan features for in-depth scanning of the hard drive for searching files to recover.
3,015,629 people have downloaded it

How to Recover Disappeared Files or Folders on Mac:

Start with downloading the trial version of the software to recover the desktop files that disappeared from Mac. Install the software properly and follow the steps below:

Step 1 Run iSkysoft:

Launch the program and the main interface will open up. Select the file types that are lost from your Mac and hit the Next button. Choose a recovery method for a particular situation. If you don’t know how the files are lost, pick the All-Around Recovery method.

Step 2 Choose Target Location:

The software will prompt you to specify the location to look for lost files. If you don’t have any idea of the previous location of the lost files, choose “I can’t find my Partition” and hit the start button.

Step 3 Scan the Drive:

The drive scan will take some time to finish. Once the scan is complete, the data will be displayed on the screen. The files will be sorted out according to their format. You can have a preview of the files too.

Step 4 Recover Lost Files:

Select as many files as you want and make sure that you have a preview. Press the Recover button and specify a location to save the files on your system.


It is recommended that when you are trying to recover a lost or deleted file, you save it on a different location than before to avoid overwrite or corruption.


As you can see, missing files on Mac is a very common problem. And you don’t need to freak out if something like this happened to you. Mac usually has a method to resolve all your problems. And if none of the tools come to your rescue, then iSkysoft is always here to help. Recommend the app to your friends and family and let them know that there is a tool that can assure that no one suffers from data loss.


staff Editor

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