How to Restore a Time Machine Backup

MacBook and external drive

The other day my MacBook Air felt sluggish, not as peppy as usual. I took a Time Machine backup a few months back with all my programs, and I use iCloud and Dropbox to store my documents and pictures. Reformatting the drive costs me nothing, so I proceeded to restore my entire OS to a cleaner, speedier version.

This is just one of the reasons that it’s good to take a Time Machine backup of your Mac every so often. Let’s walk through the process of how to restore a backup.

1. First, make sure your computer is turned off. Now power it on while holding down the Option key. This will boot you to a screen that allows you to Restore from a Time Machine Backup.

OS X Utilities box during MacBook startup

2. Make sure you have a drive connected to your Mac. Then select Restore from Time Machine Backup and click Continue. Select the drive that houses your Time Machine backup.

Select a Backup Source box for Time Machine backup

3. Click Continue and choose a backup.

Selecting Time Machine backup version

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4. Select a Destination Drive. NOTE: Proceeding with the restore erases your existing drive.

Select a Destination box on MacBook screen

5. The disk will now be erased in preparation for a restore.

Erasing disk in preparation for Time Machine backup

6. Time Machine will provide you with a progress bar on the restoration of your backup.

Time Machine backup restoration in progress on MacBook screen

Once this process is complete, a reboot occurs and you are running a fresh copy of OS X with all your programs already available. Nothing to download or install. Time Machine is a great feature in OS X.

MacBook screen with newly restored version of OS X Yosemite

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