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Apple Time Machine 101

 

Setting up Time Machine:

IMPORTANT: Time Machine set up varies by macOS version, if you are usure which version of macOS you are running, click here to determine your version of macOS 

For macOS 13 (Ventura) and later

VideoWatch How to back up your Mac with Time Machine macOS 13 (Ventura) and later 

  1. Open System Settings, click on the Apple icon > System Settings 
  2. Click General
  3. Click Time Machine
  4. Click Add Backup Disk, select the drive you want to use
  5. Click Set Up Disk
  6. If encrypting the drive, enter the password. If not, toggle Encrypt Backup off
  7. Click Done, the backup will start in 60 seconds
    NOTE: Time Machine may prompt to erase the drive. WARNING: Formatting the drive will erase all data on the drive, so you should copy any data you want off the drive prior to formatting. 

If there was an issue while setting up Time Machine, try formatting the external drive and going through the process again.

For macOS 12 (Monterey) and earlier

Video Watch How to back up your Mac with Time Machine macOS 12 (Monterey) and earlier

  1. Open System Preferences, click on the Apple icon > System Preferences
  2. Click Time Machine
  3. Click on the Select Backup Disk, select the drive you want to use
  4. Click Use Disk, the backup will start in 120 Seconds (2 Minutes).
    NOTE: Time Machine may prompt to erase the drive. WARNING: Formatting the drive will erase all data on the drive, so you should copy any data you want off the drive prior to formatting

If there was an issue while setting up Time Machine, try formatting the external drive and going through the process again. Make sure to select the correct operating system, as the formatting requirement and process vary by macOS version

Excluding items from Time Machine backup plan (Options):

For macOS 13 (Ventura) and later

  1. Open System Settings, click on the Apple icon > System Settings 
  2. Click General
  3. Open Time Machine
  4. Click on the Options button. An options window opens
  5. Click on the + button to change what is excluded by Time machine.
  6. Select files/folders and click on the Exclude button. 
  7. Click on the Done button to finish. At this point Time Machine prepares the drive and backs up selected data.

For macOS 12 (Monterey) and earlier

  1. Open System Preferences, click on the Apple icon > System Preferences
  2. Open Time Machine.
  3. Click on the Options button. An options window opens
  4. Click on the + button to change what is excluded by Time machine.
  5. Select files/folders and click on the Exclude button. At this point the folder size Calculations and Adjustments are made.
  6. Click on the Done button to finish. At this point Time Machine prepares the drive and backs up selected data.

 

Restoring data from Time Machine backup:

  1. Open Finder - Applications - Time Machine.
  2. Time machine opens. You can navigate Time Machine through the following:
    • The Graphical Timeline to the right of the Time Machine window
    • The Up/Down Arrows
    Browse to, and select files/folders you wish to restore.
  3. Click on the Restore button. Address any prompts that appear on the screen (grant Administrative access, etc.)