Skip navigation

Restoring User Library folder from Time Machine

15601 Views 35 Replies Latest reply: Feb 25, 2014 12:43 AM by Gappochan RSS
  • DanielCowan Calculating status...

    Thank you so much. I have been having trouble with my iMac for a while and I had to erase and reinstall Lion. Apple did not want me migrate all the info back in because we could not find the exact problem they just want me to bring stuff back as I need it from a Time Machine back-up I have. I opened mail and everything was gone I used the command you provided and found the mail database dragged and dropped and 19 gigs (41000+) messages later every thing is back. Thank you so much because I work from computer it is important that I not loose my mail. I was so upset when it was gone thank you again. 

  • Victoria Herring Level 2 Level 2 (290 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    May 25, 2012 3:04 PM (in response to DanielCowan)

    I would suggest you use Mail Steward or some other method to doubly back up your email if it's that important to you....just restoring from Time Machine might not do what you need.  You may not need all 19G but you should back up the essentials.

  • WaiGuo Guizi Calculating status...

    Thanks, Topher,


    Your instructions worked for me -- hurrah!


    What I had to restore from Time Machine was /Users/<my account>/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/.  This contained all my Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail settings, bookmarks, passwords, etc.


    Thanks heaps,

  • re_newable Calculating status...

    Thanks Topher!

    This is exactly what I needed. I replaced my HD with an SSD of smaller size and could not migrate my user account. I needed a certificate from my old keychain in the user Library from the Time Machine backup. Got it! Sweet.

    Topher Kessler wrote:


    One option here is to show all hidden files in the Finder, and then navigate through the Time Machine backup instances to see if there are any instances of the Library folder in those backups. To do this, open the Terminal and run the following command:


         defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true


    After doing this type "killall Finder" to restart the Finder (or use the OS X force-quit window by pressing Option-Command-Escape), and you should see hidden files. Then open the Time Machine disk and navigate through the backups to the various instances of your user home folder and see if the "Library" folder is listed there.


    To undo this, just repeat the above command with "false" at the end of it instead of "true."

  • yikesboy13 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Topher nailed it for me as well.  I was restoring my iWeb domain file and needed to 'see' my User Library- his solution was the only one that worked.


    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true

  • Ablex Calculating status...

    Thanks A LOT!!! I've been sweating like **** trying to locate my iTunes backup files, finally I saw something usable :X

  • Gray Tait Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 15, 2013 1:53 PM (in response to DWNCC)

    That is the best reply I have ever seen. Brilliant, thanks.  I couldn't work out how to see the Library in a Time Machine backup. Now with your advice I can. I have taken the Address book over and put it into my current Library and thay are all there.


    Thanks again

  • macobs30 Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Great hint!


    Thank you!

  • stated Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 15, 2013 3:41 AM (in response to DWNCC)

    Yep Tophers answer worked for me too.


    The defaults write AppleShowAllFiles true

    and then killall Finder in terminal did the trick


    Displayed all the hidden files fine on Mountain Lion as well as in the TimeMachine backup from another computer then just undoing the hidden files after i restored my Mail profiles with the reverse was fine.

    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles false

    killall Finder


  • tinwv Calculating status...

    Thank you so much, Topher! I mistakenly deleted my Moneydance file, thinking I was only deleting an individual bank account. That was years of data we are talking about! I tried nunerous other solutions, but could not get to that backup file in the Time Machine Library folder. Your Console command did the trick!

  • David Stamm Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Topher - you are "DA MAN"...


    I always prefer doing "clean" installs - for family and friends machines. Since ML came and hid the Library I've been searching for a way to SEE LIBRARY in TM back up so I could pick parts to rebuild...


    Now I can - awesome. MAVERICKS here I come... safe in that everything is on my TM backup. (hope I'm not in for a nasty surprise)


    What I find strange though - the backup appears to have 3 less items.

    Cashe (need - will copy separate)

    Logs (n/a)

    Saved Application state (n/a)


    Screen shots - 55 items vs 52 items


                                                      On machine

    Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 7.53.59 AM.png


                                                      On TM backup

    Screen Shot 2013-10-25 at 7.54.20 AM.png


    Looking further - I noticed within the the folders - there are other parts missing. None that I need though.


    Going to follow you on CNET. Thanks again.

    David Stamm

  • David Stamm Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 25, 2013 10:55 AM (in response to re_newable)



    OMG - nearly had a frieking heart attack - apparently that teminal command doesn't work in Mavericks OS.


    Fortunately I have another ML machine that I can go thru to get my stuff.


    Your thoughts appreciated. Thanks

    David Stamm



    ADDED - when I connect to Mavericks machine - with command executed on ML machine - I can see the library so at least it'll be easier to place the files.




  • elbeardo77 Calculating status...
    Currently Being Moderated
    Oct 26, 2013 12:33 AM (in response to David Stamm)



    Found the new Mavericks show hidden files command, just type into terminal:

    defaults write AppleShowAllFiles -boolean true

    killall Finder


    To revert back to hidden files, just enter

    defaults delete AppleShowAllFiles

    killall Finder

    Problem solved!


More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...

Bookmarked By (2)


  • This solved my question - 10 points
  • This helped me - 5 points
This site contains user submitted content, comments and opinions and is for informational purposes only. Apple disclaims any and all liability for the acts, omissions and conduct of any third parties in connection with or related to your use of the site. All postings and use of the content on this site are subject to the Apple Support Communities Terms of Use.