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The strangest thing just happened. I accidentally moved some files around within a folder on my desktop. I pressed command Z to try and un-do the action (I may have accidentally hit some other keys in the process, I don't know,) but instantly the folder was wiped of it's contents and even the name of the folder changed to "Untiled Folder." It seems my files have just vanished into thin air and I can't get them back. They did not move to the Trash Bin.

If that isn't odd enough, the size of that folder now is 16kb and typically, the size of an empty/new folder is 0kb..? Before my content vanished, it was more than 16kb so I have no idea where that figure came from or what data it's referring to.

HELP Please, I just need my files back...

I'm on a 13" macbook pro running OSX 10.8.2

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  • Folder sizes don't shrink when contents move out so I wouldn't necessarily worry a out that until you've a) made a back up of the system as it is now and b) figure if you have operator error or filesystem corruption
    – bmike
    Aug 27, 2013 at 10:06
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    That's typical for the size of empty folder. See: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/130992/…
    – njboot
    May 24, 2014 at 5:13

3 Answers 3

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Do you remember some of the filenames?

Try to enable Spotlight to search documents, and use it to find the file you misplaced. You should be able to find it if it’s still inside your Documents folder.

Using Terminal

My last attempt would be using Terminal to list all the files containing your files content keywords. Run Terminal and enter command below (replace your file content with some of the unique keywords in your lost documents:

grep -R 'your file content' *

It should display all the file it can find on your User folder. If it still can’t find the files, they’re most likely gone forever.

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  • the folder didn't go missing, it just changed all of a sudden. Like reverted back to when it was created as an untitled folder with no contents. I've searched my computer, spotlight can't find the files
    – Chris
    Aug 28, 2013 at 3:31
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It is possible the files were hidden and/or relocated during the move.

In Terminal.app, I would do a sudo find / -name "<file_name>"

Spotlight will most likely not help in a situation like this.

If the find doesn't work, you probably need to perform a deleted files scan using Data Rescue or something similar.

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I had this happen because I'd moved a file to a folder in the public subdirectory of the guest account. Unfortunately it didn't occur to me to duplicate it, and the guest account deletes all its files when it logsout. It was particularly frustrating because I had it locked in Keynote so I could still see the presentation, but I couldn't save or even copy & paste from it except for the text. Figures & movies were apparently stored as resources and deleted.

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  • It answers a special case of the question, which other people besides me might follow this problem to this question. This is an answer, not a question. Nov 14, 2018 at 19:29

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