How to Fix "Mac Documents Folder is Empty" Error

Brithny updated on Feb 21, 2020 to Mac File Recovery | How-to Articles


It is really annoying when your files, folder or documents show empty suddenly. If your folder shows empty on Mac all of a sudden, we can help. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac, the best Mac data recovery tool, can get empty Documents folder back.

Have you ever had a moment when you saved your work, but find the folder empty when you go back to open it? If this has happened to you, keep reading. 

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Turn off iCloud and Recover Documents Folder Method 1. Restore Documents/Files by Turning off iCloud Drive...Full steps
Method 2. Scan the Empty Document Folder and Recover Lost Files...Full steps
Fix 2. Manually Find Documents Folder Step 1. From the Finder "Go" menu, hold the option key and choose Library.
Step 2. Then go to Preferences trash these two files: steps

Documents Folder Disappears Suddenly

"I often save files to my Documents folder on the desktop. However, weird thing happen. The Documents folder shows empty all of a sudden. I know it's not. I have about twenty large folders in there, and the odds of accidentally highlighting them all and sending them to the Trash or emptying the Trash is unlikely. Of course, anything is possible. Can anyone suggest? How can I retrieve lost files?"

Reasons for the Empty Documents Folder

There are two reasons. One is about the iCloud and the other is about the Finder.

A new feature in macOS allows you to sync files from your desktop and Documents folder to iCloud, so you can access them on all your device. However, if you disable this feature, it will delete them from your computer. Relax, those files still exist. They were simply removed from the desktop and Documents folder and left in iCloud Drive.

These files are stored in two different locations: in your Documents folder and in iCloud Drive. Deleting a file from the Documents will also delete the copy that’s stored in iCloud Drive.

However, if you disable desktop and Documents iCloud Drive syncing, macOS will automatically remove the files from these two locations and only store them in iCloud Drive. If you are trying to restore the emptied documents folder, the methods below can do you a favor.

1. Turn off iCloud and Recover Documents folder

According to the first reason, you can do two things. Turn off the iCloud drive to recover the missing Documents folder. Or Recover files with Mac data recovery software.

If you are a Windows user, you can refer to My Documents Folder Is Missing from Windows 10.

Method 1. Restore Documents/Files by Turning off iCloud Drive

If you’re thinking about disabling the iCloud drive, here’s how to get your files back to the desktop and the Documents folder.

Step 1: Open up "System Preferences" and then click on "iCloud".

click icloud

Step 2: To the right of "iCloud Drive", click on "Options".

Step 3: Uncheck the box next to "Desktop & Documents Folders".

turning off the icloud

Step 4: You’ll get a pop-up warning you that these files will only be stored in iCloud Drive if you disable desktop and Documents syncing. Go ahead and click "Turn Off".

Then, open the iCloud Drive folder on your Mac and you’ll see two folders called "Desktop" and "Documents". There are where your files disappeared to. Drag-and-drop the files to your desktop while holding down the Command key, or copying and pasting them over and then deleting the ones still stored in iCloud Drive.

Method 2. Scan the Empty Document Folder and Recover Lost Files

If the manual method fails to help you, why not try a file recovery tool to find your files? Free Mac data recovery software helps to scan both the existing files and the lost files.

To find a reliable data recovery tool for Mac, you need to learn several tips:

  • First, the software should completely safe, virus-free, no damage to your device or data.
  • Second, the software should be efficient enough to fully find and recover your deleted or emptied folders on Mac.
  • Third, the software should be easy to operate.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac is experienced in dealing with complicated data troubles like how to recover Mac hard drive data, recover different kinds of folders and files from different locations. Since your Documents folder is missing, this Mac data recovery tool is your best choice. Follow the steps below to retrieve the documents folder.

Step 1. Select the disk location (it can be an internal HDD/SSD or a removable storage device) where you lost data and files. Click the Scan button.

select the location where data lost and click scan

Step 2. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac will immediately scan your selected disk volume and display the scanning results on the left pane.

scan the selected disk to find lost data on your Mac

Step 3. In the scan results, select the file(s) and click Recover Now button to have them back.

click recover now button to recover lost data on your Mac

2. Manually Find the Emptied Documents/Files

According to the second reason, the situation may also have something to do with Finder. Try this manual way to find your documents.

Step 1: From the Finder "Go" menu hold the option key and choose Library.

Step 2: Then go to Preferences trash these two files:


find documents folder manually

Step 3: Then, restart your Mac.


In addition to recovering Documents folder, it is also important to prevent data loss. There are many ways to prevent losing documents, and the most important one is to remember to always save and back up your mac documents as often as you can. If you are in the middle of thinking before typing, make sure you click save so that you save properly. The other way to make sure that this does not happen is to also save all work onto a flash drive. By having your work saved on both a flash drive and your computer, you are less likely to lose your work due to computer crashes, or just forgetting to save in general.


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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files, so verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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