Restore your Mac from a backup

Learn how to transfer all files from your Time Machine backup to your Mac.

If you used Time Machine to create a backup of your Mac, you can restore your files from that backup. You might want to do so after the original files are deleted from your Mac, or the hard disk (or SSD) in your Mac is erased or replaced, such as during a repair.

Restore from a Time Machine backup

When you restore from a Time Machine backup, you can choose to restore all your files, or restore both the Mac operating system (macOS) and all your files.

Restore all your files

  1. Make sure that your Time Machine backup disk is connected and turned on, then turn on your Mac.
    • If your Mac starts up to a setup assistant that asks for details like your country, keyboard, and network, continue to step 2. 
    • If your Mac starts up to the Finder, open Migration Assistant, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder. Click Continue in the first Migration Assistant window, then continue to step 2.
    • If your Mac doesn't start up all the way, or you also want to restore the macOS you were using when you created the backup, follow the steps to restore both macOS and your files.
  2. When you're asked how you want to transfer your information, select the option to transfer from a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk. Then click Continue.
    Migration Assistant window
  3. Select your Time Machine backup, then click Continue.
    Migration Assistant window
  4. If you're asked to choose from a list of backups organized by date and time, choose a backup and click Continue.
    Migration Assistant window
  5. Select the information to transfer, then click Continue to start the transfer. This screen might look different on your Mac:
    Migration Assistant window
  6. If you have a lot of content, the transfer might take several hours to finish. When the transfer is complete, restart your Mac and log in to the migrated account to see its files.

Restore both macOS and your files

These steps erase your hard disk, then use your backup to restore both your files and the specific version of macOS you were using when you created the backup.

  1. Make sure that your Time Machine backup disk is connected and turned on.
  2. Turn on your Mac, then immediately press and hold Command (⌘)-R to start up from macOS Recovery.
  3. When you see the macOS Utilities window, choose the option to restore from a Time Machine Backup.
  4. Click Continue, then click Continue again on the next screen.
  5. Select your Time Machine backup disk as the restore source, then click Continue.
    If your backup disk is encrypted, you're asked to unlock the disk. Enter the administrator password you used when setting up Time Machine, then click Continue.
  6. Select a backup, then click Continue.
  7. Select the hard disk in your Mac (or other destination disk) that will receive the contents of your backup, then click Restore or Continue.
    If your Mac has FileVault turned on, you're asked to unlock the disk. Enter the administrator password for your Mac, then click Restore.
  8. When done, restart your Mac. 

Restore specific files

Learn how to use Time Machine to restore specific files, including older versions of your files.


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