As I understand, Time Machine or for that matter, any backup solution doesn't backup your apps (for technical reasons, I know).

So what's the best solution to remember/backup the list of apps you have installed on your Mac in case it just stops working one day?

Apart from the obvious "manually write down the name of the app on paper", of course.

  • The best list of Applications isn't the one you have, but the ones you use. Get them when you need it. Make a local repository/cache if you need to when you re-download a program. Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 22:46
  • How exactly do I go about doing that? There are apps that I use every day and there are apps that I need once in a blue moon.
    – Pratik
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


Time Machine does back up your applications. You can restore from a Time Machine backup and your computer will have the system software, applications, and user files it had when it was completely backed up. See this Apple page for details.

Some other backup solutions (such as Crashplan) generally are set to just back up the /Users folder - Time Machine is a "bare metal" backup.

  • What about application preferences? I know that they are restored when doing a full system restoration. However, what if I uninstalled an app along with its preferences using cleaning tools - and now I want to restore just that one app with its last preferences?
    – gentmatt
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 23:31
  • 1
    Good question. Post it as a question, and people can answer it @gentmatt
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 23:36
  • You're right. Will do so now. :)
    – gentmatt
    Commented Jan 3, 2012 at 23:41
  • Really? Thanks for pointing it out. I was always under the impression that Time Machine backed up everything except applications.
    – Pratik
    Commented Jan 4, 2012 at 1:23

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