Use Time Machine, the built-in backup feature of your Mac, to automatically back up your personal data, including apps, music, photos, email, and documents. Having a backup allows you to recover files that you later delete or can't access. Learn how to restore your Mac from a backup.
Create a Time Machine backup
- Connect an external storage device, such as a USB or Thunderbolt drive. Learn more about backup disks that you can use with Time Machine.
- Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu in the menu bar. Or choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
- Click Select Backup Disk.
- Select the name of your disk, then click Use Disk. Time Machine immediately begins making periodic backups—automatically and without further action by you.
If you want to start a backup manually, without waiting for the next automatic backup, choose Back Up Now from the Time Machine menu in the menu bar.
Use the same menu to check the status of a backup or skip a backup in progress. For example, if a backup is underway, the menu shows how much of it is done. When a backup is not underway, the menu shows the date and time of the latest backup.
Backup is underway
- Time Machine automatically makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups are deleted when your backup disk is full. The first backup might take a long time, but you can continue using your Mac while a backup is underway. Time Machine backs up only the files that changed since the previous backup, so future backups will be faster.
- To exclude items from your backup, open Time Machine preferences, click Options, then click the add (+) button to add an item to be excluded. To stop excluding an item, such as an external hard drive, select the item and click the remove (–) button.
- If you back up to multiple disks, you can press and hold the Option key, then choose Browse Other Backup Disks from the Time Machine menu.
- Learn about other ways to back up and restore files.