You moved by mistake some photos in the trash can of your computer and then you emptied it. Once you became aware of the mistake and realized that you didn't have any backup, you began to despair at the idea of having lost your shots forever. Talking with a friend, however, you came to know that there are ad hoc programs that allow you to deal with situations like this and, curious to know more, you rushed on the Internet to do research and ended up in this guide of mine.
I beg your pardon? That's exactly how it is and would you like to know if I can help you in any way to recover photos from the recycle bin? Of course you can, that's all I need. Starting from the basic assumption that your friend was right, with this tutorial today I would like to point out some software specifically designed for this purpose to which you can appeal to meet your needs. There are some for both Windows and Mac and they are all completely free (or almost free). Just choose the one you prefer and immediately put it into practice.
In order to avoid giving rise to false hopes, however, I would like to make one thing clear right away: although programs of this type are generally quite effective, in order to recover the removed files it is essential that the space that was occupied by the deleted data is not overwritten by the system with new files. Otherwise, recovery becomes impossible or the returned files may get corrupted.
Recover photos from Windows trash can
Are you using a Windows PC and would like to figure out how to recover photos from your computer's trash? Then rely on one of the specially designed software that you can find below. I really hope that you will eventually be able to "save" your files.
The first tool I want to suggest you to use to recover deleted photos from the trash on your Windows PC is PhotoRec. It is free, open source and besides allowing you to work on your computer hard drive, it allows you to recover photos from any storage device connected to your PC: memory card, pendrive, hard drive, etc. Fantastic, isn't it?
To use it for your purpose, first connect to the PhotoRec website and click the number under Latest stable version in the top right corner. On the web page that opens, click the link for the Windows version you are using in the Stable version section and wait for the download to start and complete.
When the download is complete, extract the archive obtained in any location on your PC and start the executable qphotorec_win.exe. In the window that now appears on the desktop, press the Yes button and use the drop-down menu Select a media from which to perform the recovery operation to select the drive for the PC hard disk on which the operating system is installed.
Then select the primary disk partition, select the FAT/NTFS/HFS+/ReiferFS and Free items at the bottom and indicate the image formats (e.g. JPG, PNG, GIF, etc.) you want to find with the program by first clicking the File Formats button. Then press OK to save the changes you have made.
To finish, press the Browse button at the bottom right and indicate the location on your computer where you want to save the photos that will be recovered from the recycle bin, then press Search. Once the search process is complete, the files that the program was able to recover will be saved automatically in the folder that was previously set.
If you are looking for a valid alternative to the above software I suggest you to consider using Iobit Undelete. It allows you to recover not only photos but also other types of files and has a rather intuitive user interface that makes the recovery of items of interest very easy. Moreover, scanning the selected media is quite fast and also provides an estimate of the degree of recoverability of the selected files. Also note that there is no need for installation.
To use it, connect to the program's website and click on the Free Download button in the center of the screen, so that you can start downloading the software right away.
When the download is complete, open the .exe file you just obtained and press Yes. Now that you see the software window on your desktop, remove the tick from all file types except Pictures, go to the Select File Location tab at the top and select (or verify that it is already selected) the hard disk of your computer then press the Scan button at the bottom.
When the scan is complete, you will be shown a list of all the deleted photos from Windows that the program was able to find. Then tick the names of the ones you want to recover (the files that you can recover without problems are those that have Excelent in the Recoverability column), press the Recover button in the lower right corner, indicate the location on your computer where you want to save them and it's done.
Retrieve photos from your Mac Trashcan
Do you use a Mac and are you interested in what tools you have on your computer to recover photos from the recycle bin? Then go ahead and read on, you will find below those that in my opinion represent the best resources belonging to the category in question.
EaseUS Data Recovery
The first tool to recover photos from recycle bin and more generally files deleted from Mac that I want to invite you to consider is EaseUS Data Recovery. It is a free software that allows you to recover up to a maximum of 2GB of data (to get around this limitation you need to upgrade to the paid version). Trash apart, it is able to work on hard drives, pendrives and various other media.
To download it to your computer, first connect to the program's website and click the Free trial button in the middle of the screen.
When the download is complete, open the obtained .dmg package, drag the program icon into the Applications folder of macOS, double click on it and type in your account password.
Now that you see the main software window, select the drive for your Mac's hard drive and click the Scan. button at the top.
When the analysis is finished, you will be shown the complete list of all the files that you can recover. To view the photos only, select the Type tab on the left and tick the box next to Graphics. If you then want to view only specific file formats, expand the relevant menu by clicking the arrow and select the formats you are interested in.
If you want to preview a particular file, double-click on its name in the list on the right. To proceed with the recovery instead, leave a tick on the box next to the file names you are interested in and click on the Recover Now button at the top right. Enter the location where you want to save the photos once they are recovered, press Save and wait for the recovery process to start and finish.
Note: Since macOS 10.13, Apple has introduced a special security system called System Integrity Protection (SIP), which aims to protect the integrity of the OS. This system prevents EaseUS Data Recovery from acting on the hard disk on which macOS is installed. To deal with this, it must be temporarily disabled. To do this, you can follow the instructions on this page of the official Apple community.
RePicvid Free Photo Recovery
As an alternative to the above mentioned program you can test RePicvid Free Photo Recovery to recover deleted photos from your Mac's trash. It has a nice user interface and it is also quite fast. It allows you to work on both hard drive and other media. Note that as far as image recovery is concerned it can be used at no cost, while to recover other types of files you need to switch to the paid variant (which however you should not care about given your current needs).
Are you asking me how to use it? I'll tell you right away. First, visit the program's website and press the Download Mac Version button on the right to start downloading the software to your Apple-branded computer.
When the download is complete, open the .pkg file you just obtained and press Continue in the window that appears on your desktop. Next, click the Install button, type the password for your macOS user account, click Install software and then click Close. If you see a new window appear asking you if you want to move the program installation file to the recycle bin, you can do so.
Now, start RePicvid Free Photo Recovery by clicking on the icon that has just been added to the Launchpad, type again the password for your user account in the appropriate field that appears, close the welcome window of the software and click the Photo/Graphic button on the main screen of the application.
Then select the drive you want to analyze (in this specific case it is the Mac hard disk), click on the Advanced Settings button at the bottom left and indicate the exact file formats you want to search (eg JPG, PNG, GIF etc.) by ticking the various boxes (if you have no special needs you can also leave them all selected) then press OK.
Then press the Scan button at the bottom right to start the scan power of attorney. When the process is complete, you will be shown the complete list of images that the program has been able to scan through the Mac Trash. Use the menu on the left to filter by format. If you select a file name you are interested in, you can preview it at the top.
To proceed with recovery, just leave a tick on the boxes next to the photo names that you are interested in, press on the Recover button at the bottom right and indicate the location on your Mac where you want to save the files. There you go!
Note: Even in this case, the System Integrity Protection system prevents RePicvid Free Photo Recovery from working on the hard disk where macOS is installed. To remedy this and then temporarily deactivate it, you can follow the instructions on the web page I mentioned in the previous step.
Additional useful resources
The solutions to recover photos from Windows and Mac trash that I told you about in the previous lines did not convince you or did they not have the desired effect? Are you looking for a good alternative? In that case, I can only suggest you to try the generic programs I told you about in my guide on how to recover deleted files from recycle bin and in my review on programs to recover deleted files. Further useful resources in this regard I have then pointed them out to you in my tutorial on data recovery from hard drives.
Retrieve photos from your smartphone and tablet recycle bin
Are you wondering if it is possible to retrieve photos from the recycle bin even acting from smartphones and tablets? Then I am very happy to tell you that the answer is: yes! You can do it by using some special applications that can be used directly from your mobile device or by using ad hoc computer programs, similar to the ones I told you about in the previous lines.
For further information and to find out what resources you have from your own, I invite you to read my tutorial on how to recover photos from your mobile phone and my post on how to recover deleted photos from your mobile phone (to the detriment of the title, the indications contained in both posts are also valid for tablets). You might also find my post on how to recover deleted photos from the gallery useful. Take a look at it, please!