How To Undo On Mac, iMac & MacBook


Another question that I often get asked is ‘How to undo changes on Mac’

If you accidentally deleted a file or a folder, or if you made a change to your computer and want to undo it, there are several ways to get the job done.

Undoing things on a Mac is pretty simple. Hats off to Apple for that!

How to undo changes on Mac in Finder

If you’ve changed something in the Finder such as deleting an item or renaming one then there’s no need to panic (yet).There is a built-in way of reversing such actions using an Undo function. The trick is that you must activate it before making the next change on your Mac.

To start with Undo for older Macs:

Move the pointer down towards the bottom right corner of your screen until it becomes a left pointing arrow. Click and hold this while dragging all over to go back through each action taken in Finder since the last time you clicked. Use this to go back through each change made in Finder and select Undo for any item you want to fix.

If you accidentally trigger another action then just continue to drag the pointer across the screen. Dragging with enough space between actions should give you enough time before it triggers again. You can also try hiding all windows while dragging by pressing Command+Option+H. This will make your Mac look like its lagging while scrolling but won’t affect how it works otherwise.

Use keyboard shortcuts

If you prefer using shortcuts over pointing and gesturing on a mouse trackpad or touchscreen, there are multiple ways of doing this that still require that initial click down on an empty part of the desktop before dragging your mouse. Hold down Control and tap the Cmd key once before you click and hold on a blank part of the desktop, then drag your mouse to wherever you want to go.

If you just want to undo something quickly, Control+Cmd+Z will undo whatever is done last and Control+Shift+Cmd+Z will redo whatever was undone if needed. This works across all applications including those in full-screen mode. If you don’t even want to use Control, simply holding down Command while clicking and dragging should allow for an undo as well as show hidden files (if enabled).

Don’t forget trackpad gestures

You could also try using one of Mac’s built-in trackpad gestures! To enable this, head to System Preferences > Trackpad and tick ‘Three Finger Drag’. This allows you to tap with three fingers on the track pad while holding down Command+Option+Shift (hold down all these keys simultaneously) to undo/redo.

To get back to where you were before three finger drag, simply hold up all three fingers on the trackpad again.

Don’t forget keyboard shortcuts! If more than two fingers are used during this gesture, it will activate Exposé (which allows for quick view of all open windows).

How to undo changes on Mac that was done hours or days ago

If you need to undo something that was done hours or days ago, there is no way around it other than using Time Machine. Luckily if you enabled this service when setting your Mac, it should be fairly easy to restore from it.

However, if Time Machine is not enabled, then your only chance of bringing a file back is through a recovery mode.

Recovery Mode

Use the “Recovery Mode” section below to find out what you need to do in order to bring a deleted file back.

Back up any important work before going into recovery mode! This is because once you restart your machine with Recovery Mode, all existing data will be erased and replaced with the factory default settings. Make sure to save any work that you have done before starting this process as everything will be wiped clean when booting from the disk.

Once booted from the disk, select Restore from Time Machine Backup and follow along onscreen instructions for recovering lost or deleted files.


How to boot into Recovery mode to undo on Mac

Boot your mac by holding down Command+R keys simultaneously on a wired keyboard, or Option/Alt+Command+R if using a wireless keyboard. Once you have booted into Recovery Mode, open the Time Machine Backup menu and select Restore from Time Machine Backup to restore files that were deleted from your computer.

This will bring back all of the most recent versions of any file that is overwritten with newer versions as soon as you save them in place of the old versions. This brings back lost data by restoring the latest version of any overwritten file. You may need to use Terminal commands if they are necessary for recovering older versions of lost files. Time Machine does not allow for restoration at a point in time earlier than the latest version of a file stored by Time Machine.

Once you’ve found the file you want, move your mouse to the top of the screen where it is displayed in chronological order with other recently edited files. To undo a closed window, press Command-Shift-T.

Undoing changes in macOS High Sierra

There are two ways to undo what you just did in macOS High Sierra: either to undo only one action or to return everything that has been changed within the past hour, all without having to revert back to a time machine backup or reinstall the application.

To undo only one action, press Command-Z immediately after doing whatever it was that you want undone. This will take back your last command and leave everything else the same. If the changes were saved, they will still show up when opening files with associated applications.

Undoing multiple changes in macOS

To undo more than one command, start by pressing Command-Z immediately after completing the first action you want undone. Pressing the same shortcut again (Command-Option-Shift-Z) will make it possible to undo even further back.

If you find yourself needing to go back further than this method is willing to let you, revert back to Time Machine backups made before these most recent changes were made. This way you’ll be able to use your Time Machine backup to return your computer’s data back to the way it was before you made any changes.

Undoing changes in new Macs

You can undo change in new MacOSs by Clicking Edit -> Undo ‘….’ or simply by using the shortcut ‘Command + Z’



For most situations, undoing is not only possible, but usually quite simple with Mac OS X. However, in some situations, such as quitting an app without saving edits or quitting an entire document when you’ve only saved part of it, undo will not be available because you can’t rollback time and bring the file back into existence.

If that happens, don’t worry – just remember that even though something happened that seemed spontaneous or out of your control at the time, there are steps you can take to get things back on track. All is well in the world of Mac! Moreover our Melbourne Mac repair specialists can recover these files for you.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...