Retrieve Files and Folders from Mac Time Machine

By Joe Hutsko, Barbara Boyd

Mac’s backup application, Time Machine, takes snapshots of your Mac’s storage drive so that you can view its exact condition from two hours ago, two weeks ago, two months ago, or even further back. But what do you do when you need to retrieve files that have been backed up?

Time Machine consists of two components:

  • The Time Machine preferences pane: Turn the Time Machine backup feature on or off, or adjust its settings.

  • The Time Machine restore application: Recover files you deleted or changed from earlier backups. You run the restore application by clicking the Time Machine icon on the Dock or on the Launchpad, or by choosing the Enter Time Machine command from the Time Machine icon on the menu bar, as shown in this figure.

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After you configure Time Machine to back up your Mac, you can use the Time Machine recovery application to retrieve old files or information you deleted or changed after Time Machine backed them up. The two ways to use the Time Machine recovery application to recover files, folders, or other pieces of information, such as address cards, e-mail messages, or events from Calendar, are as follows:

  • By running an application and then clicking the Time Machine icon on the Dock or Launchpad, or choosing the Enter Time Machine command from the Time Machine icon on the menu bar

  • By opening a new Finder window and then clicking the Time Machine icon on the Dock or on the Launchpad, or choosing the Enter Time Machine command from the Time Machine icon on the menu bar