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Time Machine - Troubleshooting

A11.  Navigating to your backups via the Finder


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Normally, you should not use the Finder to access your backups;  that's what the Time Machine browser (the "Star Wars" display) is for.  Among other things, if you copy from them, you may have permissions issues with the copied files.

But under some unusual circumstances, you may need to.

The procedure is a bit different depending on where your backups are:

  1. An external HD connected directly to your Mac (or an internal HD).

  2. 1.Via the Finder, open the HD containing your backups.

  3. 2.See the green box below. 

  4. A Time Capsule or 3rd-party NAS ("Network Attached Storage" or Network Drive)

  1. An external HD connected to a Time Capsule, other Mac, or Airport Extreme

  2. 1.Eject the drive Via the Finder, and connect it directly to your Mac.

  3. 2.Via the Finder, open the HD containing your backups. 

  4. 3.See the green box below:

(Finder sample in List View)

At the top level of the drive
(or disk image on backups made over a network) is a single Backups.backupdb folder.

Inside that is a folder named for your Mac.

Inside that is a series of date-stamped backup folders, plus a Latest alias.

Inside each of the date-stamped folders is a folder for each volume (drive/partition) that was backed-up.

Inside each of those is the complete duplicate of the folder structure of the drive/partition.

You can open the sub-folders and see the files and folders inside, just as in your home folder (if you have permission). 

You can display some types of files, but not others, and you cannot use any of them with an application.  You must restore them to do that.

  1. 1.Connect to the server by clicking it in a Finder sidebar (the sample has the Finder in Column View).

  2. 2.Double-click it to open the disk/partition.  That should show the sparse bundle your backups are in.  It's named for your Mac, and sometimes doesn't show ".sparsebundle" as part of the name.

  3. 3.Double-click the sparse bundle to mount the disk image inside it (usually named Time Machine Backups, sometimes Backup of <computer name>).  After a moment or two, the disk image (circled in green) should appear in the sidebar.

  4. 4.Double-click the disk image to open it.

  5. 5.See the green box below.