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OS X Mountain Lion: Restore items backed up with Time Machine

Restore items backed up with Time Machine

If you use Time Machine to back up your computer, you can easily bring back one or more items you’ve lost, or recover older versions of files you’ve changed.

You can use Time Machine from within many applications. For example, you can open Contacts and then start Time Machine to recover contacts you may have accidentally deleted.

Note: If the iCloud Documents & Data service is turned on, you can recover older versions of iCloud documents as well as regular documents.
  1. Open a window for the item you want to restore.

    For example, if you accidentally deleted a file from your Documents folder, open the Documents folder. To recover an email message, open your inbox in Mail. To recover an iCloud document, open the document’s app, choose File > Open, and then click iCloud to view the iCloud documents for that app.

    If you’re missing an item from the desktop, you don’t need to open a window.

  2. From the Time Machine menu in the menu bar, choose Enter Time Machine. A message may briefly appear while your computer connects to the backup disk.
  3. Use the arrows or the timeline along the right side of your screen to browse through all the snapshots and backups Time Machine created.

    White tick marks on the timeline represent snapshots stored on your internal drive (portable computers only). Pink tick marks represent backups stored on your backup disk. If a tick mark appears dimmed or grayed, there’s no backup available or the backup disk is not connected.

  4. If you need more information about an item, double-click to preview it.

    The windows in Time Machine behave just like Finder windows, so you can open folders, click items in the sidebar, and use the search field in the upper-right corner of the window.

  5. When you find the item you want to restore, select it, and then click Restore. You can restore individual items, multiple items, folders, or your entire hard disk.

    The restored item is returned to its original location. For example, if the item was found in the Documents folder, it is returned to the Documents folder. Time Machine may ask if you want to re-create one or more folders in order to return a restored item to its original location.

    If an item you restore has the same name as another item on your computer, you’re asked if you want to keep the current item, the restored item, or both.

Many apps let you use Time Machine within individual documents so you can examine and read the document’s past versions to find the version you want. For information, see this help topic:

View and restore past versions of documents

Last Modified: Aug 8, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Aug 8, 2013
  • Article: PH11103
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