Recover Files after Factory Reset Mac or Reinstalling macOS/Mac OS X in 2021

Roxanne updated on Jan 13, 2021 to Mac File Recovery | How-to Articles

According to many Mac users, it's a common case that they lose Mac files after factory resetting Mac or reinstalling macOS/Mac OS X. On this page, you will learn how to recover files after factory reset Mac or reinstalling macOS using EaseUS Mac data recovery software and other manual methods. We'll also cover a complete guide to help you securely reset MacBook Pro, MacBook, etc. without losing any data.

On this page, you will uncover practical solutions to undelete and restore Mac files after factory reset and an extra guide on how to reset MacBook Pro without losing any data. 

Applies to: MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, iMac, iMacPro, etc.

How Do I Recover Files from My MacBook after Factory Reset?

"Recently, I reinstalled my whole macOS on my crashed MacBook, and then I found some files such as photos and documents are gone after reinstalling macOS.

Is there a way that I can apply to recover files after reinstalling macOS?"

According to most Mac users, reinstalling macOS, Mac OS X, or factory resetting Mac always follows a system crash, computer slowdown, or even when Mac users need to erase their old Mac computer for sale.

Can You Recover Files after Factory Reset Mac or Reinstall macOS? Yes!

Usually, you may lose some of your files on your Mac after the macOS or Mac OS X reinstallation. When you are facing data loss problem, you may wonder whether you can recover files lost due to reinstalling macOS or Mac OS X. The answer is YES!

macOS reinstallation or factory resetting Mac only executes a quick erase of the volume. As a result, it will erase the file directory but does not write any data to the drive, so the original data will not be overwritten.

This fact makes it possible to recover files after reinstalling Mac operating system as long as you take quick action.

Note that you should stop using your computer once your data get lost in case of data overwriting. Follow and learn how to bring your lost Mac files back after reinstalling macOS/Mac OS X on your own.

How to Recover Files After Reinstalling macOS/Mac OS X [3 Fixes]

Accordingly, the viable ways to recover Mac files duet o factory resetting or macOS re-installation depend on whether you have created a backup. And we collected 3 practical ways here for you to try:

  1. #1. Run Mac File Recovery Software for Help
  2. #2. Restore from Time Machine Backup from External Disk
  3. #3. Restore from iCloud Backup

The former the file recovery method is presented, the bigger chance you will have in restoring lost Mac data. Based on your situation, pick up the right solution with the tutorial to restore your lost files immediately.

#1. Restore Mac Files after Factory Reset using Mac File Recovery Software

Applies to: Find and retrieve all the files lost after reinstalling macOS or Mac OS X without backup.

When you lost data after factory resetting Mac, reinstalling the latest macOS or earlier Mac OS X, you can eliminate your worries of by using a reliable Mac data recovery software.

Among the numerous Mac data recovery tools, we recommend you try EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. When it comes to restoring files after reinstalling macOS or Mac OS X, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is 100% sure to get your data back. 

It can help you scan the Mac hard drive or external storage device to find and retrieve all the files lost after reinstalling macOS or Mac OS X with ease, even you never back up your files. The effectiveness of this method has been proven by its users. Don't hesitate to give it a try. 

Steps to Recover Files After Reinstalling macOS/Mac OS X

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 a location 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.

start scan on the Mac

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

click recover now button to recover lost data on your Mac

Being powerful, secure, and easy-to-use, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac is recommended as the best Mac data recovery solution.

You can also apply it to restore more files from the following cases:

  • Recover files lost due to deletion, formatting, system crash, virus attack, and other data loss situations.
  • Retrieve data from internal/external hard drive, USB, memory SD card, cameras, and other storage devices.
  • Recover lost/deleted Microsoft files, photos, videos, music, Adobe files, and other types of files (over 200+).

#2. Restore from Time Machine Backup on External Disk

Applies to: Retrieve lost files due to factory reset Mac from Time Machine backup on an external disk. 

The other practical method that you may apply to bring lost Mac files back after factory resetting is to perform Time Machine backup. If you've created a Time Machine on an external hard drive, congratulations. 

You'll perform a full recovery of your lost files on Mac with a 100% success rate. Let's see how to bring your lost Mac files back after reinstalling macOS or Mac OS X.

Restore Factory Resetting Deleted Files from Time Machine Backup 

Step 1. Make sure your Time Machine backup external disk is connected to Mac and turned on. 

Step 2. Open up Launchpad on Mac, click "Others". Find and click the Time Machine icon to enter Time Machine.

Enter Time Machine

Step 3. Use the Up and Down arrows to scroll the timeline, browse the backups which contain your lost files.

Find lost files from Time Machine backup

Step 4. Find the lost Mac files that you want to recover, and click "Restore".

It will automatically recover those lost data from Time Machine on macOS Big Sur/Catalina/Mojave.

Recover lost files from Time Machine backup

After this, you can restart your Mac computer, then you can view and reuse these files where were lost due to reinstalling macOS/Mac OS X again. 

#3. Recover Files after Factory Reset Mac from iCloud Backup

Applies to: Sync and restore Mac data from iCloud backup, free.

If you have synced or uploaded important Mac data into iCloud before committing factory reset or macOS reinstallation, you are such a lucky bird. You can easily restore your lost files from iCloud backup.

Steps to Recover Files due to Factory Reset on Mac

Step 1. Visit via your Mac browser, and sign with your Apple ID.

Open icloud

Step 2. Go to Setting and scroll down to the bottom. Click on "Restore Files" under Advanced.

Restore files on iCloud

Tips: To restore contacts, bookmarks, calendars, and reminders from iCloud, click the corresponding option under Advanced.

Step 3. Check the backup files or click "Select All" if you really need to restore everything. Click the Restore button to recover them.

Select iCoud backup and restore to Mac

When you are done with the above tutorial steps, most of your files lost due to factory reset or macOS reinstallation will show up on your computer again. 

Bonus Guide: Factory Reset Mac or Reinstall macOS/Mac OS X without Losing Data

Although when you performed a factory reset on Mac, you can restore the lost files when the recommended fixes above. However, it's indeed complex and time-consuming.

Follow the tips in the below, we will guide you through the brief process below to factory reset Mac or reinstall macOS without losing any data.

#1. Back-Up Your Mac Data to an External Device First

It's vital to back up all your data in advance. You can use Time Machine to copy your files to an external disk, or using reliable Mac file backup software for help. 

Or you can even manually copy files to an external hard drive one by one.

To save your time and energy, we would like to recommend you try Time Machine or EaseUS Todo Backup.

- Using Time Machine

  • Pros: ①. Free; ②. Easy to Use; 
  • Cons: You need to select files one by one for back up.

Using Time Machine to backup Mac

- Using EaseUS Todo Backup

EaseUS Todo Backup for Mac

#2. Prepare Mac for Factory Resetting or macOS Reinstallation

Before you start reinstalling macOS or Mac OS X, here are some preparations for you to do in advance:

  1. 1. Deauthorize iTunes
  2. 2. Turn off FileVault
  3. 3. Disable iCloud
  4. 4. Sign out of iMessage
  5. 5. Erase Touch Bar Data

When you are done with the preparations, you may now start factory resetting or reinstall your Mac OS X or macOS with the next tip.

#3. How to Reset or Factory Reset MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, iMac/iMac Pro

Now, you can follow steps here to start reset your Mac:

Step 1: Reboot Mac in Recovery Mode

Restart Mac and simultaneously hold 'Command and R' keys together to bring up the macOS Utilities window.

How to reset MacBook Pro without losing data - Step 1

Step 2: Erase Mac hard drive

Open Disk Utility and click 'Continue' > Select your startup disk (Macintosh HD) and click "Erase" > Choose "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" and click "Erase".

How to reset MacBook Pro without losing data - Step 2

Step 3: Reinstall macOS on your Mac computer

Repeat Step 1 to bring up macOS Utilities > Click "Reinstall macOS" > Confirm to reinstall macOS and follow the onscreen instructions to complete the process. 

How to reset MacBook Pro Without Losing Data - Step 3

When you finish the process, congratulations. You have successfully reinstalled your macOS and the Mac now works like a brand new computer. 

#4. Restore Files from Backup

As for the data that you backed up in advance, you can apply Time Machine or EaseUS Todo Backup to bring them back on your Mac with your back up immediately.


This page covers 3 practical solutions to help you effectively restore files after factory reset Mac or reinstalling macOS/Mac OS X. 

If you didn't create a backup before resetting Mac, take EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac as emergency rescue. It will fully scan and bring your lost files immediately. 

If you are looking for a complete tutorial to reset MacBook Pro, check and follow the guide in the last part on this page. For more data recovery tips, please refer to Mac File Recovery on our site for help. 

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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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