I am going through many old photographs on my Mac, deleting duplicates that have occurred for one reason or another. However, I realise that I may have deleted the wrong duplicate in some cases. I have deleted several hundred duplicate photos, across multiple folders.

I have my whole hard drive backed up in Time Machine. However I don't want to simply restore all the files in Time Machine for my photos folder since I have made some changes since doing the deletion that I want to keep. There are too many files involved to hunt for them in Time Machine individually.

Is there a way I can identify the files in a folder in Time Machine that do not exist in the current filesystem? And then a way to restore them.

I think the command line tool tmutil may be helpful but I am not experienced with this.

2 Answers 2


You can access time machine via a mount and then search and copy back to your machine using the automation technique of your choosing.

Here is a command you might find helpful. Replace A and B with your two directories. (see the SO answer here)

$ comm -23 <( find A -type f -printf '%f\n' | sort | uniq ) <( find B -type f -printf '%f\n' | sort | uniq )
  • Answers on Ask Different need to be more than just a link. It's okay to include a link, but please summarize or excerpt it in the answer. The idea is to make the answer stand alone.
    – nohillside
    Aug 31, 2015 at 16:56
  • 1
    @patrix I added some more details from the link. Is that the type of details you were looking for?
    – Adam
    Sep 1, 2015 at 20:39
  • Thx. If you want to help the OP even further: How could the functionality described in your answer be used to solve the specific problem the OP has?
    – nohillside
    Sep 2, 2015 at 6:59

Assuming you deleted the pictures directly in Finder

  • open (in Finder) the folder which used to contain the pictures
  • access Time Machine via the menulet
  • TM will open, showing the different time slices of your folde
  • Go back in time until before the deletion
  • Right-click on file(s) in question to restore them
  • 1
    Unfortunately I am talking about cleaning up several hundred duplicate image files, scattered across multiple folders. The basic functionality of Time Machine is not much help - I am looking for a more automated solution.
    – dunxd
    Dec 30, 2013 at 18:58

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