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Learn how to restore files or your Time Machine backup on a Mac

O Time Machine a complete backup solution for macOS. From automatic backups (every hour, every day / week for the past few months), you can restore all Mac data according to any backup performed and recover specific files that you have lost or even deleted.

To take advantage of Time Machine's features, you need to purchase an external drive to save your Mac data. Time Machine-compatible storage devices are:

  • External USB-A / C or Thunderbolt drive connected to the Mac;
  • Any model of AirPort Time Capsule;
  • External USB drive connected to AirPort Time Capsule (any model) or AirPort Extreme (802.11ac model only);
  • Network volumes connected to the Mac from File Sharing (macOS Server).

Setting up a Time Machine backup disk

Typically, the connection of any of these devices or servers on the Mac itself generates an automatic warning on the computer asking if you want to use the disk with the Time Machine backup. At the option Encrypt Backup Disk, the user must create a password and, whenever restoring any data or system, enter it; therefore, if you lose or forget the code, it will not be possible to retrieve the information from Time Machine.

Time Machine Alert

If the backup device happens to be not automatically recognized by Time Machine, follow these steps to configure the disk:

  1. From the Apple menu (), select System Preferences;
  2. Comes Time Machine Select Backup Disk and choose the option "Select Disk" or "Add or Remove Backup Disk";
  3. Select the desired backup disk from the list of devices and click "Use Disk".

Time Machine on macOS

Time Machine backups

Once configured, Time Machine performs automatic hourly backups for the past 24 hours and so on, according to the storage capacity of the disk used. When there is no more space, the feature will delete the oldest backups to continue copying the most recent data.

It is possible to configure a backup manually or even choose which files will be included in the system copy, among other options. See s:

  • To start a backup manually: Time Machine System Preferences Backup Now;
  • To delete or include items from the backup: at Time Machine Options System Preferences, select the items you want to omit from the backup;
  • To interrupt a backup in progress: in the menu bar, look for the Time Machine icon and choose the option ?Ignore This Backup? or, in Time Machine System Preferences click on the ?x? next to the backup progress bar;
  • To cancel automatic backups: at Time Machine System Preferences, uncheck the option Backup Automatically (macOS Sierra or higher); for users of OS X El Capitan or earlier, Time Machine backup must be disabled in both cases the ?Backup Now? function will remain available.

Restoring Time Machine documents

Recovering a file on Time Machine

Time Machine creates several copies of the system as a whole, including specific files from folders, messages or even emails. To restore documents on Time Machine, follow these steps:

  1. Open a Finder window for the item to be restored (the window must correspond to the one where the file was Documents, Desk, Mail, etc.);
  2. Select Time Machine Open Time Machine or click on the Time Machine icon in the Dock (if it is there);
  3. A timeline and several windows will appear on the screen. Use any of the available methods to navigate between the backups in that window until you find the file you want to restore; preview the selected item by pressing the space bar;
  4. Click on "Restore" to make the file available in the window in question; clicking on the item with the Control key pressed in the Time Machine backup, more restoration options will be indicated.

Restore all Mac content with Time Machine

Have you formatted or purchased a new Mac and want to transfer all the contents and settings of the old Mac from a backup? The following steps tell you how to restore your entire Mac:

  1. Right after (re) booting the Mac, press the R keys until the Apple logo or spinning globe is displayed on the screen to open the macOS Recovery Utility;
  2. Access the option ?Restore Using Time Machine Backup? (not the option that is selected in the image below);

    Restoring via Time Machine

  3. Select the backup you want to recover, remembering that encrypted backups require a password;
  4. Follow the instructions on the screen and wait until the restoration process is completed, which may take, depending on the size of the backup.

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Now you know how to protect yourself and recover your files! ?

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