I am wanting to re-format and start anew with my time machine backup, but I am unsure if restoring a folder restores all copies of files across backups, or only copies found in the most recent backup. Ex: If I have files AB in backup 1, files ABC in backup 2, and files BC in the most recent backup, when I use the "restore to..." function and restore a backup folder to my user folder, does it restore ABC? I've browsed Pondini's webpage and several posts here and elsewhere, and haven't seen this specifically addressed. I'm not so much worried about different versions of a given file, but am seeking a "flattened" restoration of files that have been since deleted along with more recent files, all of which should be present in various backups but that are not all present in any one given backup.


1 Answer 1


Doing a full restore from Time Machine will restore exactly one snapshot (usually the most recent one), without any files/folders only available in other/older versions. Which actually kind of makes sense if you consider that TM also backups OS files etc where you don't what to have a flattening effect with files from previous versions.

You can recover files only available in older snapshots through the Time Machine interface from Finder though.

  • Thanks patrix! The manual interface restore is the technique I am using, individual folders at a time.. So does this most-recent-only behavior hold true when i do a "restore to.." from the interface, or does that method go back through the older backups and consolidate all of the files?
    – dbau
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 18:21
  • You always restore one version only at a time
    – nohillside
    Commented May 19, 2017 at 20:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .