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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Recovering deleted iCloud Drive files

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

One thing I left out of my earlier post about iCloud Drive’s file deletion issue—but which is mentioned in the original source of the link—is that you can actually recover deleted files on iCloud Drive. But it’s not an obvious feature, because you can’t do it from the Finder, where iCloud Drive lives, or from your iOS device.

Instead, you have to go to and log in with your iCloud account. Click on the Settings icon, then click on Data & Security under the Advanced section. (Update: Apple has changed the interface for this slightly, as well as added options for recovering contacts, calendar, and reminder data separately.)

In the dialog box that pops up, the first tab—handily already selected—is Recover Documents. You’ll be shown a list of all the files that have been recently deleted from iCloud Drive; you can sort either by name or by deleted date. Select any (or all) of the files, and click Recover File at the bottom, and it’ll be restored. (In my experience, it didn’t show up immediately in iCloud Drive on my Mac, but it did show up in the iCloud Drive web interface.)

You’ll also notice a time period listed next to the files (i.e. “10 days remaining”) which is how long before those files get permanently deleted; so there’s a limited window in which you can restore files, which can be tricky if you don’t realize something has been deleted, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

The recovery pane shows a lot of files that you probably don’t care about—image files generated as previews, blank files, documents you purposefully didn’t save—but it might prove handy if iCloud Drive decides to delete one of your files, or if you have other file mishaps.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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