Using Time Machine to back up or restore your Mac

Time Machine is the integrated backup feature of your Mac. To use it you need an external storage solution, sold separately:

  • External hard drive connected to a USB, FireWire or Thunderbolt port on your Mac
  • Time Capsule or macOS Server on the network
  • External hard drive connected to the USB port of an AirPort Extreme base station on the network

When you connect an external hard drive directly to your Mac, you may be asked if you want to use the drive to back up with Time Machine. Click “Use as backup disk”. If you select the option to perform encryption, the backups will only be accessible to users who have the password.

If Time Machine does not ask you to choose a backup disk:

  1. Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menuTime Machine icon in the menu bar. Or choose Apple menu ()> System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
  2. Click Select Backup Disk, Select Disk, or Add/Remove Backup Disk.
  3. Select a backup disk from the list, then click Use disk.
  4. Repeat the process to add another backup disk and thus improve the security and convenience of your backups. For example, you can use one disk at home and another at work.

Backup through Time Machine

After configuring Time Machine, this feature automatically creates time backups of the last 24 hours, daily backups of last month and weekly backups of all previous months. Older backups are deleted when the backup drive is full.

        • To back up immediately instead of waiting for the next automatic backup, choose Back up now from the Time Machine menuTime Machine icon
        • To stop automatic backups, open Time Machine preferences, then deselect Perform backup automatically (macOS Sierra) or turn off Time Machine (OS X El Capitan or earlier). You can still back up manually by choosing Backup Now from the Time Machine menu.
        • To cancel a backup in progress, choose Ignore this backup (or Stop backup) from the Time Machine menu.
        • To check the backup status, use the Time Machine menu. The icon shows when the Time Machine function is backing up In progress, is inactive until the next automatic backup
          Unable to back up
          or fails to complete the backup
          Unable to back up
        •  To exclude items from the backup, open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu, click Options, then click on  plus sign and select the item to exclude.

It may take a long time to perform the first backup, depending on the amount of files you have. You can continue to use your Mac while a backup is in progress. Some Mac computers create backups even when they are in a stop state. Time Machine only backs up files that have changed since the previous backup, so future backups will be faster.

Restore from a Time Machine backup

Restore specific file:

1- Choose Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine menu  Time Machine icon or click Time Machine in the Dock.

2- Locate the files to restore: Use the timeline on the edge of the screen to view the status of files in the Time Machine backup on a specific day and time. The timeline could also include local snapshots.

Use the up and down arrows on the screen to go to the last time the window contents have changed. You can also use the search field in a window to locate a file, then move over time keeping the focus focused on the changes made to that file.

Select a file and press the spacebar to preview the file and make sure it’s what you want.

3- Click on Restore to restore the selected file or click on the file while holding down the Ctrl key for other options.

Restore all files:

To restore all the files in the Time Machine backup, use macOS Recovery.

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