Time Machine - Frequently Asked Questions

8. How can I tell what Time Machine is backing-up?

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Time Machine’s "Star Wars" display (question #15) shows a picture of how your system looked at the time of each backup.  Sometimes, though, there’s a need to figure out just what was actually backed-up on a particular backup.  There are a couple of 3rd-party apps for that:

These show most of the files saved by TM for each backup (excluding some hidden/system files, etc.).  This can help you figure out just what is (or is not) being backed-up.

        Time Tracker  is free, it’s pretty basic but usually works well.

        BackupLoupe  requires a small payment, but has some additional features.

Note that both these applications work by comparing a backup you select to the one before it.  So if you select a large backup, it’s going to take a while to determine, calculate, and display the items.

And you can’t select the oldest backup, since there’s nothing to compare it to.

See  Troubleshooting item #A2  for more details.