Time Machine Tutorial: Back Up Your Mac

How to Use Time Machine on a Mac

Four Parts:

Time Machine is the backup utility available on Mac operating systems Leopard (10.5) or above. It is generally used for personal backups, rather than professional, system backups. You can learn how to use Time Machine by connecting a backup drive to your Apple computer and configuring it according to your preferences.


Backup Drive

  1. Buy an external drive.Make sure it is at least twice the size of your hard drive.
    • Today, you can buy a backup drive that has a terabyte or more. Most backup drives will connect to your USB drive.
    • You can also buy backup drives that work with your other Mac ports, such as FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt. You will need to check your Apple manual to see if your machine supports these drives. They can be much faster at sending and receiving information, but also much more expensive than a traditional USB port drive.
  2. Read the instruction manual.Find out if the drive comes with its own software.
    • If possible, choose a hard drive that does not run on proprietary software. This backup software can compete with the Time Machine backup, creating difficulties.
    • Deactivate your hard drive's backup software by deleting it or following the directions in the instruction manual before trying to run Time Machine.
  3. Decide if you want to keep the backup drive connected to the computer, so that Time Machine can back up the computer on an hourly or daily basis.You can also choose to connect it specifically when you want Time Machine to run.

Time Machine Set Up

  1. Insert the backup drive into your computer.In most cases, you will do this by connecting it with a cord, or directly through a USB drive.
  2. Wait a few minutes for the system to recognize the new device.In most cases, your Apple computer will recognize the device and ask you if you want to use it as a backup drive.
  3. Click "Use as Backup Drive" when the dialog box asks if you want to use it with Time Machine.
    • If the dialog box does not appear, or you want to use a drive that was previously inserted as a backup, then go to your "System Preferences" application. Click on "Time Machine." Select the backup drive you want to use from the browser.
    • For additional security, check the box that says "Encrypt Backup Disk." This will only be available on certain operating systems.

Time Machine Preferences

  1. Go to your Mac desktop.Click on the symbol of a clock with an arrow around it. This is the Time Machine icon.
  2. Scroll and select the "Open Time Machine Preferences" option to configure your Time Machine.
    • You can also go back to the System Preferences application and click on Time Machine to get to the same screen.
  3. Select "Options" in the Time Machine dialog box.
  4. Select items to exclude from the Time Machine backup.Time Machine will not back up devices that are connected to your computer, but it will back up almost everything else, so you may want to exclude Mail or other items.
    • Click the plus sign to add something that should be excluded from backing up.
  5. Access Time Machine to see files from previous days, weeks or months.Click "Enter Time Machine" under the Time Machine icon.
  6. Flip through the past backups until you find the date that you want to access.Select the file you want and click "Restore" to reload it onto your Mac.
    • You can also use the search bar to look for files, if you don't know when they were saved.

Manual Time Machine Backup

  1. Set a date and time to back up your computer, if you choose not to keep your backup drive plugged in.It is a good idea to do this every day, or at minimum once a week, if you do not use your computer very often.
    • If you leave the hard drive plugged into your computer, Time Machine will save backups hourly. It will save hourly backups for 1 day, weekly backups for a month and monthly backups for an unlimited amount of time. Backing up will stop when the machine is full.
  2. Plug your external hard drive into your computer.Give the system a moment to recognize the drive.
  3. Click on the Time Machine icon.Select "Back Up Now."
  4. Leave the hard drive alone until it is backed up.Removing it without ejecting it will risk losing your data.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    Can I recover a file in OS X Mountain Lion from Time Machine to OS X El Capitan?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    You should be able to. Go to the folder that the file was located in, click on the time machine button in your toolbar, and hit Enter Time Machine. Then go to the correct date and restore the file.
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  • Restoring your entire drive onto a computer that has crashed requires reinstallation and Time Machines. These 2 utilities work together to restore files; however, it will take several hours. You can also transfer your files from an old machine to a new machine using these utilities and a recent Time Machine backup file.
  • If Time Machine appears to have stalled, you can stop the backup and restart it through the options under the Time Machine icon.

Things You'll Need

  • Apple computer
  • External hard drive
  • USB cord

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

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Date: 05.12.2018, 22:31 / Views: 35173