Time Machine

One of the primary benefits of using Time Machine is that it allows you to restore your backup on a new Mac or a new OS X installation. This makes it so that you can essentially pick up where you left off from your old machine or old installation.

Fortunately, restoring Time Machine backups to a new Mac is extremely easy and straightforward. In this fifth tutorial in our Time Machine how-to series, we’ll show you how easy it is.

First and foremost, you’ll need to perform a Time Machine backup on your old machine. You’ll then use this Time Machine backup to restore on your new machine.

To learn how to perform a Time Machine backup, see our how to set up Time Machine tutorial.

How to restore a Time Machine backup on a new Mac

Note: these screenshots are photos taken with my iPhone’s camera, as OS X doesn’t allow you to take screenshots during the setup process.

Step 1: On the Transfer Information to This Mac screen, choose the first option—From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk and click Continue

Time Machine Restore

Step 2: Make sure your drive is connected, and select the disk that contains your Time Machine backup and click Continue

Time Machine Restore 2

Step 3: Select the desired backup from the disk and click Continue

Time Machine Restore 3

Step 4: For a full restore, check all of the boxes on the Select the Information to Transfer screen and click Continue

Time Machine Restore 4

Step 5: You’ll be asked about disk encryption—select your preference and click Continue

Time Machine Restore 5

Step 6: Your information will now begin restoring to your Mac

Time Machine Restore 6

Step 7: Once complete, click Start using your Mac

Time Machine Restore 7

As you can see, restoring a Time Machine backup is extremely straightforward. You can even do it after OS X’s initial setup process. To do so, simply use Migration Assistant found in Applications > Utilities.

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

  • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

    I’d like to know how to merge a time machine backup from an old Mac into the time line of the new Macs backup.

    • ShirleyRManley

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      • Joshua The-Legend Wiebe

        What the F**k? Quit posting this Shit, it’s getting annoying.

  • diggitydang

    Anyone know how to restore an old external hard drive to a new one using Time Machine? I have my Time Machine backing up the external drive, along with my Mac, but have no idea how, if that external drive failed, how to buy a new one and retore it.

    • pocketfrog

      Yep, no problem. Open Finder and click on Time Machine. Open the latest backup folder and you’ll see two folders inside: one for the Mac and one for the external drive.

      So just copy-and-paste the items in the folder for the external drive to a new external drive and you’re done.

      • diggitydang

        Going to try that, thanks so much!! I really appreciate the response, especially on this older post now!

  • These instructions assume that the Time Machine backup is on an external drive that can be remounted on the new Mac. But how does the procedure differ for backups that are on internally mounted drives on the old Mac, or across the network on file servers?

  • Karl Young

    Is there a good trouble shooting guide anywhere ? I got to about 90 % through the “Transferring Your Information” step then the the transfer hung – I shut down the new macbook (in who knows what state at this point) and rebooted the old macbook – currently running verify on the backup (which seems like it might take a week !).