I have a Time Machine backup of my system from last week right before I installed Mavericks. I've determined that Mavericks breaks too many programs that I need to use and doesn't add enough features (yet) for me to want to be using it, so I want to roll back to Mountain Lion.

BUT… (there's always a but, right? I suppose if there weren't, I wouldn't be asking here) here's the catch:

I haven't plugged in my Time Machine drive since upgrading. I have saved documents in the past week. If I were to just roll back to last week's backup, I'd lose all the work I've done since upgrading.

Can I safely run a Time Machine backup under Mavericks, revert to last week's backup, and then restore individual files from the Mavericks backup? Do I need to be buying another external drive to first back up this week's system, then restore last week's system, then pull files? What needs to happen here to restore my system to ML without losing a week's work?

  • just out of curiosity, what does Mavericks break? I'm debating whether or not to upgrade...
    – MattDMo
    Oct 29 '13 at 22:16
  • iMovie HD gets all crashy on me.
    – Daniel
    Oct 29 '13 at 22:51
  • I was also frustrated at the loss of the ability of the Finder to open folders in new windows, and the fact that full screen quick look images weren't scaling properly.
    – Daniel
    Nov 1 '13 at 20:25

Yes, you can safely backup with Time Machine in OS X Mavericks and restore your newer files later when you're back on OS X Mountain Lion.

  • Complete a backup using Time Machine on OS X Mavericks to get your new/updated files into the backup
  • Reboot the machine with the Time Machine disk connected
  • At startup, hold Cmd+R to get into Recovery mode (or hold Option to select the volume to boot from and choose the Recovery HD from the Time Machine disk)
  • Choose Restore From Time Machine Backup from the list of actions
  • Select the Time Machine volume and then the backup dated before the upgrade that you wish to restore from (it will show you a list of all available backups)
  • After booting into the OS X Mountain Lion system, turn off Time Machine in System Preferences > Time Machine (to avoid another backup starting soon, thus slowing down the system and adding to the cognitive load on you to choose the correct versions to restore)
  • Browse the Time Machine disk from the Time Machine interface and pick the specific files from the latest backup to restore
  • Turn on Time Machine again in System Preferences
  • I'm going to try this. I hope I don't mess anything up!
    – Daniel
    Oct 29 '13 at 19:09

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