My old MacBook Pro died recently (dead logic board) and I am unable to access the files on the hard drive. I used Time Machine to back it up and it was running macOS El Capitan.

My new MacBook Pro is running Sierra. I want to restore some of the files from my old Macs Time Machine to my new Mac. When I go into Time Machine I choose "Browse Other Backup Disks" and Time Machine opens.

However I cannot go "back in time" (using the arrows or the slider on the right hand side), it seem as though Time Machine is empty.

  • 1
    Are you following all the steps Apple has outlined for restoring from TM?
    – fsb
    Feb 23, 2017 at 17:00
  • 1
    Not exactly because I am restoring from a different Mac, which is why I chose "Browse Other Backup Disks". The problem is that there is nothing in there.
    – rf_wilson
    Feb 23, 2017 at 17:22
  • That support article states: "To copy the files, settings, and user accounts in your backup to another Mac, use Migration Assistant." and has a link to the MA support page.
    – fsb
    Feb 23, 2017 at 17:40

2 Answers 2


Open "Migration Assistant" on the new Mac. Select the restore from Time Machine backup option. Select the time machine back up you want to restore from and restore.

  • 1
    Ok I tried the migration assistant. I can connect to the drive OK but it just says "Loading disks..." and I can't progress any further.
    – rf_wilson
    Feb 23, 2017 at 18:05
  • The downside of trying to migrate after setting up the new machine, as opposed to as part of the initial setup, is you will end up with two accounts, the old & the new. Your best bet, if the new machine is still clean enough to not worry, is to wipe it & start over, then migrate as part of the first set up.
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 23, 2017 at 20:32
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    Is that the only way? I only want to select certain things to restore, not the entire machine.
    – rf_wilson
    Feb 24, 2017 at 7:36
  • Migration assistant has some options as to what data [though idk specifics as I've only ever used it for full migrations]
    – Tetsujin
    Feb 24, 2017 at 9:31
  • Had to restore the entire TM backup, which has worked successfully.
    – rf_wilson
    Feb 27, 2017 at 9:02

On Sierra, make sure the backup drive from which you want to restore is mounted. Open Time Machine (not Time Machine Preferences). You see a Finder-like window. Never mind the timeline of backups in the right margin that you would normally use to specify a point in time. Instead, in the left pane device list, select the backup drive.

Navigate down the hierarchy to the backup you want to use, and thence to the folder or file that you want to restore. Right-click it. From the floating menu, select "Restore to ..." A second Finder-like window appears. Navigate to the folder into which you want to restore the file. If the amount of data you're restoring is fairly small, you'll quickly hear a Boing! sound; your restore is done.

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    the backup drive is my "Time Capsule / Data" but this is not clickable - its grayed out. i also tried to select the "other drive" with holding ALT while opening Time Machine - also no success
    – muescha
    May 28, 2022 at 0:11

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