How to Create a Backup of Your Mac Using Time Machine


Time Machine, Mac’s built-in backup software, is one of the easiest ways to back up your Mac. This feature is great for recovering individual files you’ve deleted or restoring your entire hard drive in the event of a catastrophe. This is better than your traditional “Copy a bunch of files to a cloud service” or “clone a disk to an external hard drive” because you don’t have to restore your hard drive en mass if in case you lose a single file — Time Machine can retrieve specific images, folders, and projects from its backup because of its layered snapshot system.

If you’re using OS X Yosemite or later on a laptop and enable Time Machine, you’ll also automatically get a feature called Local Snapshots, which lets your laptop back itself up once a day (and once a week) while you’re away from your Time Machine drive.

Local Snapshots does take up some of your hard drive with its backups, but once your computer’s memory start running low, it will automatically purge old backups so that you have at least 20 percent free space on your drive.

Enabling Time Machine Backups on Your Mac

STEP 1: Click on the Apple menu, then select System Preferences.

STEP 2: Click on the Time Machine icon.

STEP 3: On the next screen, click the Select Backup Disk button.

STEP 4: Select which disk you prefer to use as a Time Machine backup.

STEP 5: Check the box next to Back Up Automatically so that it will automatically back up your Mac to your chosen disks.

Restoring Files From a Time Machine Backup

STEP 1: Click on the Apple menu, then select System Preferences.

STEP 2: Click on the Time Machine icon.

STEP 3: At the bottom part of the window, check the box next to Show Time Machine in menu bar.

STEP 4: Now look at the top of your Mac’s menu bar, then click on the Time Machine icon (counter-clockwise arrow with clock hands).

STEP 5: Select the option Enter Time Machine.

STEP 6: Find the file or folder in question, then click the Restore button.

NOTE: Time Machine will then copy that file back to its original location on your hard drive.

Restoring Your Hard Drive From a Time Machine Backup

Whether you’re having major problems with your existing hard drive or upgrading to a new Mac, the Time Machine can help you get back to your feet.

STEP 1: Power up your Mac, then hold down the [Command] + [R] keys to enter the macOS Recovery Partition.

NOTE: Your Mac should boot to a screen that says macOS Utilities.

STEP 2: Select Restore from Time Machine Backup, then click Continue.

STEP 3: Read the info on the Restore Your System page, then click Continue.

STEP 4: Select your Time Machine backup, then click Continue.

STEP 5: Select the most recent backup of your hard disk, then click Continue.

NOTE: Your Mac will then restore the Time Machine backup; once it’s done, it will restart.

If you’ve had to replace it with a completely empty stock drive — not even macOS — you won’t be able to boot from the macOS Recovery Partition. If this is the case, proceed to the next step.

STEP 6: Hold down the [Option] key when you start your Mac, then select the Time Machine backup disk as your startup drive, and then proceed from there.

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