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Question: How do I restore from a Time Machine backup that is not the latest?

I'm moving from a MacMini to a new MacBook Pro and I'd like to migrate everything over via Time Machine. But I don't want to backup from the latest backup (or the Mini's HD, both are problematic). Is there a way to do this?


I've been struggling with the migration because the first time I tried it, I accidentally created a new user account on the new machine, which I think is why permissions were messed up and I wasn't able to save files in Adobe Light Room.


Would it be possible to first set up a new user on the new machine and migrate stuff over manually? Would that create the same problem with permissions?

Mac mini (Late 2014)

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Nov 13, 2017 8:18 AM in response to helloandyhihi In response to helloandyhihi

But I don't want to backup from the latest backup (or the Mini's HD, both are problematic). Is there a way to do this?


Sure. When you boot macOS Recovery and select Restore from a Time Machine Backup from the macOS Utilities screen, all available Time Machine backup devices will appear. Select one of them, after which backups for all Macs will appear. Select that Mac whose backup you wish to restore, and finally a list of all available complete system backups will appear, along with their names and macOS versions they contain.


Select the one you want.


The entire above procedure is described under Restore everything from a Time Machine backup in How to use Time Machine to back up or restore your Mac - Apple Support.


I've been struggling with the migration because the first time I tried it, I accidentally created a new user account on the new machine, which I think is why permissions were messed up and I wasn't able to save files in Adobe Light Room.


You're probably right. If the User Account you choose to migrate already exists, a new one will be created with a unique name. Migration Assistant will tell you what it's going to do, that but that caveat is easily overlooked. There are ways to fix that but it's easier to do it right the first time.


Would it be possible to first set up a new user on the new machine and migrate stuff over manually?


Yes but I believe you will want to "restore everything" which was what you probably wanted to accomplish in the beginning.

Question marked as Helpful

Nov 14, 2017 12:43 PM in response to helloandyhihi In response to helloandyhihi

Boot from the Time Machine back up. You will get the same Utilities Menu as you see in Recovery Mode. Then, select Restore System from Time Machine back up and after you select the back up drive you will get a list of back ups on that drive with dates and I think times along with OS version and build number. Select the one you want and restore.

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Question marked as Helpful

Nov 13, 2017 8:18 AM in response to helloandyhihi In response to helloandyhihi

But I don't want to backup from the latest backup (or the Mini's HD, both are problematic). Is there a way to do this?


Sure. When you boot macOS Recovery and select Restore from a Time Machine Backup from the macOS Utilities screen, all available Time Machine backup devices will appear. Select one of them, after which backups for all Macs will appear. Select that Mac whose backup you wish to restore, and finally a list of all available complete system backups will appear, along with their names and macOS versions they contain.


Select the one you want.


The entire above procedure is described under Restore everything from a Time Machine backup in How to use Time Machine to back up or restore your Mac - Apple Support.


I've been struggling with the migration because the first time I tried it, I accidentally created a new user account on the new machine, which I think is why permissions were messed up and I wasn't able to save files in Adobe Light Room.


You're probably right. If the User Account you choose to migrate already exists, a new one will be created with a unique name. Migration Assistant will tell you what it's going to do, that but that caveat is easily overlooked. There are ways to fix that but it's easier to do it right the first time.


Would it be possible to first set up a new user on the new machine and migrate stuff over manually?


Yes but I believe you will want to "restore everything" which was what you probably wanted to accomplish in the beginning.

Nov 13, 2017 8:18 AM

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Nov 13, 2017 8:18 AM in response to John Galt In response to John Galt

Thanks, John. You helped me find the right place to select a backup. But now a new complication.


  • On the new computer, before I realized there was a problem with my original transfer, Time Machine started a new folder of backups for the new machine, which I don't want.
  • When I go to restore, when I select the hard drive that has both sets of time machine backups, I can only see the new backups.
  • I'd like to just delete the new Time Machine backups but I know that doing so is a big no-no.


Andy advice?

Nov 13, 2017 8:18 AM

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Nov 14, 2017 12:43 PM in response to helloandyhihi In response to helloandyhihi

Boot from the Time Machine back up. You will get the same Utilities Menu as you see in Recovery Mode. Then, select Restore System from Time Machine back up and after you select the back up drive you will get a list of back ups on that drive with dates and I think times along with OS version and build number. Select the one you want and restore.

Nov 14, 2017 12:43 PM

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Nov 13, 2017 10:02 AM in response to keg55 In response to keg55

I think that's what I just tried. I could choose between backups, but only the backups made on the new machine. I'm trying to choose the old backups made on the old machine. They're on the same drive but in a different folder. That's what I can't seem to choose.

Nov 13, 2017 10:02 AM

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Nov 14, 2017 12:53 PM in response to helloandyhihi In response to helloandyhihi

I have never kept more than 1 set of Time Machine back ups on an external drive for the Mac I'm backing up.


It sounds like you have 2 folders - 1 for your old Mac and 1 for your new Mac - rather than 2 partitions on the same drive. Maybe if you would have had 2 separate partitions, you would have been able to choose the old Mac's back ups.


I would think you should be able to install macOS High Sierra, add your account and manually copy data and apps from your old Mac's back up folder.

Nov 14, 2017 12:53 PM

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Question: How do I restore from a Time Machine backup that is not the latest?