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OS X Lion: Restore items backed up with Time Machine

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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.

  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. If you want to recover an email message, open your inbox in Mail.

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

  2. Click the Time Machine icon in the Dock, or open the Time Machine menu in the menu bar and choose Enter Time Machine.

    If you back up to a Time Capsule or other network disk, a message briefly appears while Time Machine connects your computer 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.

    Gray 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.

  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.

You can use Time Machine from within many applications. For example, you can open Address Book and then click the Time Machine icon in the Dock to recover contacts you may have accidentally deleted, or open iPhoto and then click the Time Machine icon in the Dock to view past versions of your iPhoto albums.

For instructions on retrieving earlier versions of TextEdit documents, see this topic in TextEdit Help:

Last Modified: Oct 30, 2013
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  • Last Modified: Oct 30, 2013
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