Why Are My Folders Disappeared from Mac Desktop? How to Recover?

Among the various data loss scenarios, one situation that Mac users report is the sudden disappearance of folders on the desktop. Due to the system features of macOS, in this case, it is difficult for users to find their disappeared folders.

Table of Contents

Quick Navigation:

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
1. Disable iCloud Backup Go to apple menu > system preferences...Full steps

2. Recover Deleted Files and Folders

Find and open trash on your Mac...Full steps

3. Unhide Hidden Files from Mac

Go to Mac terminal on Mac...Full steps

Why Did My Files Disappear on Mac Desktop?

Unlike Windows computers, Mac computers do not have "This PC", so many users will directly put files and folders on the desktop for easy viewing and use. If you're used to doing this and your Mac desktop folders are all gone, don't panic, this doesn't necessarily mean your data is lost. Here are a few common reasons why Mac desktop files disappear.

  • You've agreed to back up your Mac desktop with iCloud
  • Accidentally deleted or misplaced files from the desktop
  • Accidentally hide files on Mac desktop

In view of the above situations, there are methods to retrieve the disappeared files. We will introduce them one by one in the following sections.

Solution 1. Disable iCloud Backup

Apply to: Users who have enabled add desktop and documents files to iCloud

Recall if you did something like this before your desktop files were all gone - you have turned on the iCloud on Mac and choose to share files to all your devices with iCloud Drive. If yes, I can tell you why your desktop folders are disappeared. Once you have chosen this option, all the desktop content will be moved under iCloud. Now, follow the steps below to recover your Mac desktop folders.

Step 1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud.

Step 2. Click Options next to iCloud Drive.

Step 3. Unclick Desktop & Documents Folders option.

Step 4. Click Done.

After turning off Desktop and Documents, you can move all the files and folders from iCloud to Mac desktop manually.

Uncheck Desktop and Documents Folders option

Solution 2. Recover Accidentally Deleted Files and Folders

Apply to: Users who have deleted desktop folders by accident.

Another possible situation is the desktop folders were deleted by accident. To recover deleted files on Mac, you have two choices, one is to restore them from Trash and the other is to use third-party data recovery software.

#1. Restore Deleted Files from Mac Trash

Step 1. Find and open Trash on your Mac.

Step 2. Check if your missing folders are in the Trash. If yes, drag them to the desktop. Or right-click on them and select the "Put Back" option to recover deleted files to their original location.

Put Back deleted files from Trash

#2. Recover Permanently Deleted Files with EaseUS

This method suits the situation that you know you've deleted certain files but can't find them in the Trash. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac is a macOS-specialized recovery tool. Its main purpose is to help users recover those files and data which can't be recovered directly from Trash. Its working pattern is to perform a thorough scan on your hard disk, search and list all recoverable data.

Now, you can download this software from the button below and follow the guidelines to recover data.

Note: You can create a backup by clicking the "Disk Backup" on the left first. The software will recover the deleted files from the backup image. It can prevent further damage to your disk and data, making it safer and more reliable.

Step 1. Scan for deleted files

Select the hard drive, external drive, or SSD where your important data & files were deleted and click "Search for lost files".

select a location and scan for deleted files on Mac

Step 2. Filter the lost files

The software will run quick and deep scans and work hard to find as many deleted files as possible on the selected volume. Filter wanted files through the "Type" and "Path" options.

Filter and select the lost files

Step 3. Recover deleted files

Double-click the deleted files to preview. Then, click the "Recover" button to get them back.

recover deleted files from Mac

Solution 3. Unhide Hidden Files from Mac

To start with, there's a quick method that can help you confirm whether the desktop files are hidden.

Step 1. Go to Mac terminal on Mac.

Step 2. Enter defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles true and press Return.

Step 3. Type killall Finder and hit Return.

Then, if you have hidden files, after hitting the Return button the Terminal will close and shows all hidden files on your desktop.

Check and find Mac hidden files

Mac Tip

Operations You Should Know when Switching from Windows to Mac

If you've just switched from Windows to Mac and are new to using a Mac computer, this article will help you get used to it faster.

switch from Windows to Mac


This article covers common situations of folders disappeared from Mac desktop. According to other users' feedback, most of the time, the reason why you can't see your desktop folders is that you have enabled the iCloud backup. So don't panic and don't worry that you might lose your data. And EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for Mac always got your back.

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Updated by Jaden

Jaden is one of the editors of EaseUS who lives and works in Chengdu, China. She focuses on topics concerning PCs and Mac data recovery. Jaden is committed to enhancing professional IT knowledge and writing abilities. She is always keen on new and intelligent products.

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Written by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

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