Recovery & Repair
Data Transfer

How to Restore from Time Machine

author Lois Green
date Saturday, March 28, 2020

Time Machine is a built-in backup software on Mac. To restore files from Time Machine, make sure you have backed up in Time Machine (opens new window)before.

Time Machine Icon

When you have a backup, you can restore files from your backup if the original files are deleted from your Mac, or the hard disk (or SSD) in your Mac is erased or replaced. You can choose to restore specific files, all files or the Mac operating system.

Restore Files from Time Machine

If you've accidentally deleted one or several important files that you were working on, Time Machine can help you get them back.

Step 1 Make sure your Time Machine backup disk is connected and turned on.

Step 2 Open a window that contained your backed up files.

Step 3 Type Time Machine in the search box and select the Time Machine app.

Time Machine Restore Files

Step 4 Find the files you need.


  • You can search it by the timeline on the edge of the screen or using the up and down arrow to locate the specific time.
  • Select the items and press space bar to preview if they are the files you want.

But sometimes because of the network latency or because the disk runs out of space, you cannot find the files you need on Time Machine.

**Note:**The oldest backups are deleted when your backup disk is full. In this case, you can try other data recovery programs like FonePaw Data Recovery (opens new window). It can help you retrieve the deleted data from your hard disk, external hard disk, etc.

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Comparing with Time Machine, it is easier to use and it will scan and restore your files that you never back up before just in one-click. When you cannot find the files you want, try following the instructions below:

Step 1 Choose file types and path

Click Start to begin. If you backed up your data in the external hard drive, connect it to the computer.

Mac HomepageStep 2 Find the files you need

Click Scan to begin. You can find the files you need through the type list or path list. If you cannot find what you want in the quick scan result, try deep scan.

Select File Types

Step 3 Recover the data

Check the files you need and click Recover.

Quick Scan Result

Restore All Files from Time Machine Backup

To restore all files from Time Machine, make sure the backup disk is connected and turned on.

Step 1 Search it on the Spotlight or go to your Utilities folder > Applications folder > Migration Assistant.

Step 2 In the pop-up window, select From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk > Continue.

MacOS Migration Assistant

Step 3 Select the Time Machine Backup > Continue.


When you are asked to choose which backup to transfer information from, choose your backup > Continue.

Time Machine Transfer Information

Step 4 Select the files you want to restore from Time Machine > Continue.

MacOS Migration Assistant Select Items

When the transfer finishes, restart the computer and log in to your migrated account to see the files.

Restore Your Mac from Time Machine Backup

Before you restore Mac from Time Machine, you should know that it will erase your hard disk and use your backup to restore the original macOS you were using when you created the backup. Make sure your Time Machine backup is connected and turned on.

Step 1 Restart or turn on your Mac and press Command + R as soon as possible.

Step 2 In the macOS Utilities window, choose Restore From Time Machine Backup > Continue.

Step 3 Select your Time Machine backup > Continue.

Time Machine Select Restore Source

Note: If your disk is encrypted, enter the password you used when setting up Time Machine.

Step 4 Select the Time Machine backup you want to restore > Continue.

Time Machine Select A Backup

Step 5 Select a destination disk that receives your backup > Restore.

When it completes, restart your Mac and your operating system will be restored from Time Machine.

All done. Time Machine is useful for Mac users to restore files. If you have any other question, welcome to leave a comment below.