Use Time Machine to restore deleted files or older files

Learn how to restore specific files from your Time Machine back-up, including previous versions of those files.

If you created a back-up of your Mac using Time Machine, you can enter Time Machine to restore specific files from that back-up.

To restore everything from your back-up, not just specific files, follow the steps to restore your Mac from a back-up.

Enter Time Machine

  1. Make sure that your Time Machine back-up disc is connected and turned on.
  2. Open a window that contains — or once contained — the item that you want to restore. For example, to restore a file that was deleted from your Documents folder, start by opening the Documents folder. Or if you're using an app that automatically saves versions of documents as you work on them, open any version of that document.
  3. Choose Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine menu Time Machine icon. This example shows Time Machine for the Documents folder:
  4. Find the items to restore:
    • Use the timeline on the edge of the screen to see the items in your Time Machine back-up as they were at that date and time. The timeline may also include local snapshots.
    • Use the on-screen up and down arrows to jump to the last time the contents of the window changed. You can also use the search field in a window to find an item, then move through time while focused on changes to that item.
    • Select an item and press Space Bar to preview it and make sure that it's the one you want. 
  5. Click Restore to restore the item you selected, or Control-click the item for other options.
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