How to Recover a Replaced File on Mac

Abby Haines updated on Jan 19, 2019 to Mac File Recovery | How-to Articles


When you replaced or overwrote an important file or folder on Mac, don't be panic. We've collected several solutions for you to try and grab the last chance to restore your replaced or lost files from Time Machine backup or use EaseUS Mac data recovery software for help.

Possible ways to recover overwritten files on Mac

Like the above cases, sometimes, you might accidentally replace or overwrite your important files by moving a folder into another with the same name. It is one of the most common reasons for Mac data loss. When it happens, you have two ways to restore lost files that were replaced or overwritten by other files or deletion on Mac:

  • Restore overwritten files/folders from backups - Mac Time Machine
  • Retrieve replaced files in storage devices with third-party Mac data recovery software

Follow the step-by-step guide below, it will just take a few minutes for you follow and handle the overwritten file recovery issue on Mac.

Note: If you are a Windows user, facing the same problem on your computer, follow to recover overwritten files in three methods.

Things turn out to be desperate. However, it doesn't mean that nothing can be changed. Here, we gathered two possible ways that may help you find and even restore overwritten or replaced files on Mac.

Case 1 - Replaced files by mistake on Mac

"Yesterday, I tried to move some files to my external hard drive, I found there was a folder titled with the same name. Mac prompted a question 'A folder named * already exists in this location. Do you want to replace it with the one you're copying?' and I stupidly hit 'Replace'. I hit cancel but it's too late. And it seemed that I had replaced some files in the folder. Is it possible to undo the file replace and recover overwritten files on Mac? If yes, how can I do it?"

Lost files by replacing files on Mac.

For Your Information:

1. When you replace a file with the same file format and the same file name, the chance to restore single overwritten file is null.

2. When you replace a folder with the same folder name, files in both two folders will be combined, saving different files and replacing files with the same names (new file overwrites the old one in the destination folder). Normally, you'll only lose the replaced files. And yes, the chance to retrieve overwritten files is still null.

Solution: Restore overwritten files from backups - Mac Time Machine

If you are an early bird who creates a backup of important files on your Mac computer, and when you find you replaced or overwrote an important file or folder on Mac, your best choice is to recover overwritten files from Time Machine backup.

Once again: the precondition of restoring replaced files from Time Machine backup is that you've created a backup of those files in advance.

It's easy! You can simply find the containing folder of overwritten files from the backup by using Time Machine:

Step 1. Connect the Time Machine backup disk to your Mac computer and enter Time Machine by clicking the Time Machine icon at the Status menu on Mac.

Connect Time Machine backup disk to Mac.

You can also click "Finder", and then open "Time Machine" application.

Step 2. On the bottom and the right corner of the screen of Mac, scroll the Timeline to find the date and time that you did a backup through Time Machine. 

Check replaced files from Time Machine backup.

Also, you can click the up arrow next to the Time Machine window to find the right back up. You can double-click a specific file or folder to check if the files are what you want to restore from the backup.

Step 3. If the overwritten files are in Time Machine backup, you can select them and click "Restore" to retrieve the old versions of overwritten files.

Restore replaced files from Time Machine backup on Mac

The selected files (which were replaced on Mac) will be restored from the Time Machine backup to the original location on your Mac computer. And you can continue using the restored files again.

Case 2 - Replaced files on storage devices on Mac

Mostly, if you emptied a storage device such as a USB flash drive and saved new files on it, the old files will be replaced. Will you have a chance to restore the replaced files? Yes!

For example, you have a 100GB USB which is full of saved files, you emptied the USB and saved 50GB of new files there. The 50 GB replaced files cannot be restored. But the other 50GB lost files in the empty space are still available to be found and retrieved.  

Partial replaced files on storage devices can be restored.

For Your Information:

When you deleted files on a storage device and saved new files on it, the replaced files in the occupied space can't be restored. But the lost file in the empty space can still be restored by using professional file recovery software.

Note: If you are in such a case, you can either restore all replaced files from your Time Machine backup (if you had a backup) or turn to a professional Mac data recovery software for help (as shown below).

Solution: Retrieve replaced files in a storage device with EaseUS Mac data recovery software

If you are the one who lost data by emptying storage devices and replacing old data by saving new files, you'll need to use third-party Mac data recovery software as an alternative solution to recover replaced files from the empty space. (Only partial files saved in the free space can be restored.)

Being powerful, safe and easy-to-use, EaseUS Mac data recovery software is your best choice. It allows you to recover deleted files on Mac and supports to restore multiple types of files such as pictures, videos, documents, music files, etc from Mac in three steps. 

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

Thanks for taking your time reading this page and follow solutions to restore replaced files on Mac. If this page helped, please share it to help more people. If you have other data loss problems, please refer to How-to page on our website to find more solutions.


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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.

About Data Recovery Wizard

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