I have a 2014 MacBook Pro.

I want to restore my OS from a Time Machine backup which is on a shared network volume.

When I restart in recovery (Apple-Opt-R), it boots from internet, but if I try to restore from Time Machine backup, it fails to see the server where the shared volume is.

Do I need to log/mount the share somehow?

4 Answers 4


UPDATE: On recent versions of macOS (tested with High Sierra 10.13.4) you can restore from a networked drive directly from the "Restore from Time Machine Backup" option in the recovery mode. The following steps are not required (but are super awesome!).


– admin account & password
– AFP/SMB-share & server IP-address

  1. Boot the Computer to Recovery Mode.
  2. Open Terminal in the Utilities menu
  3. At the prompt enter: cd /Volumes
  4. Create a sub-directory in Volumes as a mount point for your time machine share:
    mkdir TimeMachine
  5. Enter cd TimeMachine
  6. Enter pwd. pwd should show /Volumes/TimeMachine
  7. Mount the network share with your admin loginname & password:

    mount -t afp afp://adminname:password@ServerIPAddress/ShareName /Volumes/TimeMachine

    If your password contains wonky characters like :@\/ use URL encoding to protect them

  8. Enter: ls -la. Note the exact name of your sparsebundle.
  9. Enter: hdid /Volumes/TimeMachine/NameOfYourSparseBundle. You may enter the first letters of the sparsebundle name and then hit TAB. Hitting tab should auto-complete the Time Machine sparsebundle name. It may not look the same as above as it escapes spaces and special characters.
  10. After auto-completing the name, hit return. If you return to the prompt the sparsebundle has been opened.
  11. Enter exit and and quit Terminal.
    Example steps 3-11:

    enter image description here

  12. Select Restore From Time Machine Backup and click Continue.

    enter image description here

  13. After a search it should show you the Time Machine Backups directory as a volume that contains your backup. Select that (in my example 'Time Machine Backups') and click Continue.

    enter image description here

  14. In the next screen you will see all the backups that you can restore from listed by time and date.

    enter image description here

  15. Select the backup you want to restore and continue and finally choose your destination disk:

    enter image description here

  • I actually tried all that previously ... but the mount command gives me this error: mount_afp: AFPMountURL returned error -5023, errno is -5023 -- which it gives even when I try to mount when NOT in recovery.
    – d0g
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 19:46
  • AH! I figured it out. My password has a \ in it ... so I need to quote the afp:.. string. Hopefully that will work in recovery as well.
    – d0g
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 19:48
  • @Ze'ev that's no good. do you have admin rights at the server?
    – klanomath
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 19:52
  • @Ze'ev i had no problem using this with a regular password (=not containing any "forbidden" chars like :@\/)
    – klanomath
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 20:52
  • Not sure what you're saying. My password DOES have a \ in it, so I put single quotes around the afp://... part of the command. And it worked. However, upon getting to the restore part, it said there was 930GB free on my HD, when there are only 215GB. That scared me. Any idea why?
    – d0g
    Commented Dec 20, 2014 at 1:15

The above answers are a bit too complicated for my taste. I actually tried klanomath's answer and failed, maybe because I have an encrypted backup on the network share. But might also have to do with a wrongful URL encryption.

However there is a much easier way. In this step:

enter image description here

just reinstall your OS X.

After that is finished the migration assistant should popup or if it does not, one can create a user, login and then start the migration assistant by hand.

In the migration assistant:

Migration Assistant

choose "From a Mac, Time Machine backup, or startup disk". Click Continue, and choose "Other server". This will allow you to enter the address of the volume and it will ask you for the password, in case you used an encrypted backup.

After that you can choose what to recover. Beware, if the user you created after the installation has the same name as the one you used in the backup, there will be a conflict. You will then need to choose, whether you would like to keep delete the user or keep the data.

  • I tried this method first after reading the introduction "there is a much easier way" - If this would work, it certainly seems easier than @klanomath's method. When I did this, it immediately found my mac network share on my Synology network storage device and I'm restoring now. Very, very easy. Commented Feb 19, 2018 at 17:31
  • You need to enter the server name and share in the other disk box, eg. afp://server-name/share, and then it will find the disk. Commented Sep 5, 2018 at 18:06

Recovery mode needs a netboot server (like OS X server app) to serve up that image.

You could set one up or you could copy the backup instance to a USB drive and connect it locally.

For netboot, I'd recommend deploy studio as your go to solution in terms of ease of use and robustness of the solution.

Also, if you just need user files and applications, you could do a clean install of the OS and then make a temporary user account and use migration assistant to copy the real user and files over once the Mac can run it's own OS to perform the network mount.


Update very much insprired by klanomath's answer, for Sonoma and probably all versions that use Migration Assistant.

If you need Migration Assistant to connect to an SMB share with a username and password, you have to use the URL to the share including those details.

  1. Click "Other Server" when it asks for a server or shows a list
  2. Enter smb://username:password@server/share in the dialog that pops up
  3. Click the icon for this server, which should show in the list of server icons. You may have to scroll left or right a bit. It shows your username and password in the clear, so hope you didn't re-use this password if anyone is snooping your screen at this point!
  4. The backup(s) on the share should show up, and you can proceed as normal.

I discovered this slightly the hard way trying to test a Time Machine backup from my wife's Mac before taking mine in to be repaired. She already had Time Machine set up to a different share on the same NAS, and MacOS was trying to use her SMB login but without being logged in as her it couldn't get her password, or something annoying like that. I had to find this article and follow the above steps to get it to work.

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