I have a Time Machine drive which was previously used to back up my old Mac. Since that machine died I'm using it to back up my new Mac. This means there are two folders in the time machine's backup folder - one for the old machine, one for the new machine.

The new machine's Time Machine app does not show me the content of the old machine's backups.

I would like to rescue/extract the important files (such as Pictures folders etc) from the old machine's backups.

I know TM files are not stored contiguously but as it does not provide a granular management tool, is there a way to extract/copy files from a Time Machine history which the current machine does not see?

  • 1
    So you didn’t do a restore from backup when you set up the new machine?
    – bjbk
    May 13, 2018 at 12:55
  • 1
    Nope. The difference between the OS versions and age of the hardware was such that I wanted to start as fresh as possible. That approach has paid dividends, just not in this area.
    – Matt W
    May 13, 2018 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


You can use the Migration Assistent found in Application/Utilities folder. This program will allow you to copy files, pictures, folders, programs, settings and more from a Time Machine backup.

Edit: Open Migration Assistent and choose Time machine option, then click continue. Connect the time machine backup disk and choose it from the menu. Then select things to copy.

Read more here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204350

This is a similar question: Restore files from Time Machine to a different Mac

  • The page doesn’t say anything (at first glance) about Time Machine, but I’ll take a look. It should be highlighted that the old machine is utterly defunct and it is only the TM backup which is available to me. If the MA tool can address TM files properly and not just copy the hard links (which TM manages) then you have just saved my bacon. Many thanks in advance!
    – Matt W
    May 13, 2018 at 13:19
  • I think it saved you bacon. Try the MA and see the edited answer. In worst case you end up with two user accounts, but I don't think it will be required at this time.
    – iTunes
    May 13, 2018 at 13:30

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