Q: How can I recover my deleted documents on a Mac?
A: There are any number of data recovery utilities for macOS available for the consumer.
When an item is moved to the Trash, it is no different than moving it to another folder–as the Trash is just a folder.
When the Trash is emptied, default operation is that the data remains on the drive, but all of the pointers to the item located in the directory system are deleted. Data recovery involves recreating these directory pointers.
However, I don’t recommend end users attempting data recovery using these utilities. I’ve seen far too many times where the data which could have been recovered if the user had done nothing, become permanently deleted after they performed DIY attempts. One of my favorite phrases is just because you have a knife doesn’t make you a surgeon. It is easy to permanently erase data with these utilities.
Instead, if the data is important, I recommend finding a qualified data recovery service. An internet search will find them. MintzIT is one of them.
If the data is not important, sure, experiment with data recovery utilities.
Now, run out and buy an external drive for your local backups, and purchase an internet backup service as well.