Time Machine

In our third Time Machine tutorial for OS X, we’ll show you how to exclude specific files or folders from being included in your Time Machine backup. You’ll find that it’s extremely easy to curate your Time Machine backups using its preferences.

The thing that I really like about Time Machine is that you can exclude not only individual files, but entire folders of files as well. Have a look at our easy to use tutorial to find out how you can exclude certain data from becoming a part of your backup.

Excluding files and folders from being backed up in Time Machine

Step 1: Open Time Machine preferences in System Preferences

Time Machine Preferences

Step 2: Click Options…

Time Machine Options

Step 3: Click the ‘+’ sign to select a specific file or folder. In this example, I selected the entire Movies folder

Time Machine Exclude File Picker

Step 4: Click the Exclude button to submit your exclusion, and click Save to finalize changes.

Time Machine Exclude

You will see the estimated size of full backup change in accordance with how much data is contained within the excluded files and folders.

And that’s really all there is to it. As you can see, excluding files and folders via Time Machine is a cinch, and most people will definitely want to take advantage of this feature since not all folders or files are needed for backup.

To learn more about Time Machine, make sure to also check out these other tutorials:

  • Sⅈℕœ∂ℯ™

    What an essential tutorial! Thanks Jeff.

  • diggitydang

    Anyone know the answer to the following?: If I have an external hard drive plugged in and use another external hard drive for time machine, if I don’t exclude the other hard drive, will TM back up the other external drive too? I feel like it will but have never had actual confirmation from someone who knew for sure. If that drive ever failed, how would I use TM to transfer the data to another, new external hard drive? Hopefully that isn’t too confusing. Any answers to the above would be appreciated.

    • If you don’t specifically exclude any disk/folder/file in Time Machine’s preferences, it will get backed up… well, as much as it can if there are space limitations.

      • diggitydang

        Cool, thanks (and sorry for the delay in responding). Do you know how to restore the hard drive to another new one, in the event that the non-TM one craps out?

  • Nick

    Dang, never even thought about excluding items from a backup. Good tip in the arsenal.