Best Photo Recovery Software for Mac

Last Updated: Nov 17, 2023

I tested 42 data recovery software products and found Stellar Photo Recovery to be the best option for recovering photos on macOS.

I’ve been working in the tech industry for the last few decades and regularly help people with computer disasters, including lost data.

Stellar Photo Recovery is the best data recovery tool for photos because it’s designed specifically for that task and is easy to use. It effectively recovers photos from your hard drive, SD cards, and cameras.

But every situation is different. So I’ve also reviewed the best data recovery application in every category.

Let’s get started.

5 Best Data Recovery Tools for Photos

Here are five effective and usable data recovery applications for photo recovery using a Mac.

1. Stellar Photo Recovery (Best Overall for Casual Users)

Stellar Photo Recovery is an effective data recovery tool with a focus on media files such as photos, videos, and audio files.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
  • Storage media: Hard drive, SSD, USB drive, SD card, CFast, CompactFlash, microSDHC/XC, and more
  • Cameras: Many popular DSLRs, camcorders, and more

Stellar Photo Recovery is easy to install and has a user-friendly interface. The company also offers Stellar Data Recovery, a more general data recovery tool.

One reviewer was able to recover every image from an SD card that he formatted. [1] The scan took 10 minutes, and the recovery an additional 6 minutes.

It costs $39.99/year and the more expensive plans also repair corrupted photos.

2. R-Studio Data Recovery (Best Overall for Technical Users)

R-Studio Data Recovery is an effective tool designed for data recovery professionals and assumes a technical understanding of computers.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Storage media: Hard drives, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, Compact-Flash cards, USB drives, ZIP drives, Memory Sticks, and more
  • Cameras: R-Studio supports image files from many cameras, but does not mention support for connected cameras

This tool offers the best chance of successful photo recovery, especially in more complex situations. But it assumes a lot of technical knowledge and casual users may find it intimidating.

It came out on top of Data Recovery Digest’s comparative tests [2] and can effectively recover your lost photos from hard drives and SD cards. Scan times are consistently fast.

A single license costs $79.99.

3. PhotoRec (Command Line Tool for Advanced Users)

PhotoRec is a free and open-source tool for recovering digital photos. It’s only suitable for technical users.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, DOS, BSD
  • Storage media: Hard disks, CD-ROMs, CompactFlash, Memory Stick, Secure Digital/SD, SmartMedia, Microdrive, MMC, USB memory drives, and more
  • Cameras: many popular DSLRs

PhotoRec is a command-line tool and doesn’t offer a graphical user interface. You start the app by typing in a command, and non-technical users will feel more at home with an alternative.

Despite the interface, user satisfaction is high. CNET gave it a user rating of 4.3 stars based on 23 reviews and many users report success. [3] The CG Security blog also lists a number of successful tests performed by users. [4]

The application is distributed under the free software GPLV v2+ license which means that you can use the software free of charge.

4. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard (Also Great for Casual Users)

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is fast, easy to use, and effective.

  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
  • Storage media: Hard drive, external disk, SSD, USB drive, Micro card, memory card, camcorder, digital camera, music player, video player, iPod, RAID, CF/SD card, Zip drive, pen drive, and more
  • Cameras are supported, but a list of compatible cameras is not offered

This app uses a simple wizard to lead you through the data recovery process in just three steps. It’s suitable for casual home and office users.

In ThinkMobiles’ test, all 50 deleted files were successfully located and recovered, including every lost image. [5] Another reviewer had similar success on an external flash drive and hard drive. [6] Its scans are not as fast as some of the competing products.

EaseUS’s Pro plan is a one-time cost of $89.95 and includes free remote consultation with a specialist in difficult recovery cases.

5. Disk Drill (Best Tool with Cleanup Features)

Disk Drill is an effective tool that combines data recovery with disk cleanup.

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Storage media: Hard drives, USB flash drives, SD/CF Cards
  • Cameras are supported, but a list of compatible cameras is not offered

This app is equally suitable for non-technical and advanced users. A simple three-step wizard is available, and experienced users will find plenty of ways to customize the recovery process.

Like other apps I recommend, Disk Drill successfully recovered all 50 of ThinkMobile’s deleted files. [7] This took just two minutes, which is the second-fastest result in their test.

The Pro version costs $89. It’s also included with a $9.99/month SetApp subscription.

Guide to Choosing a Photo Recovery Tool

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a photo recovery tool.

Choose a Tool That Suits Your Budget and Experience

Fortunately, you don’t need to be an expert to recover lost photos. Many data recovery applications allow you to scan for lost data in just a few simple steps, using a wizard. Others are suitable for more advanced users. Choose a tool that matches your level of experience.

Also, consider your budget. I make one free recommendation, but most tools will cost you money. The prices range from $40 to $90 and some are subscriptions.

Fortunately, the free trial versions of these apps will show you if your lost files can be located so you only need to pay once you’re confident of success.

Choose a Tool That Supports Your Computer, SD Card, and Camera

All of my recommendations work on macOS and all support hard drives, flash drives, and SD cards. Some are also able to directly scan your camera once you connect it to the computer. Pay attention to which cameras are supported.

Consider How Long Are You Willing to Wait

Data recovery takes time, and sometimes a great deal of it. How long can you wait? Some applications are very fast, while others are not in a hurry at all. A slow scan isn’t always more effective.

Final Verdict

When choosing a tool to rescue your valuable lost data, you want the one that will give you the best chance of success.

Stellar Photo Recovery is designed specifically for photo recovery. It’s capable of recovering photos from your hard drive and SD cards and supports a wide range of digital cameras. It’s easy to use and effective

The free trial version will show you if your lost photos have been found. If they’re not, move on to the next tool. Hopefully, you’ll eventually find one that works.