While installing a security update I accidentally installed Catalina. I do not have a Time Machine backup for my High Sierra 10.13. So now I have made a Time Machine backup in Catalina and my plan is to wipe the HD and re-install High Sierra. The thing is, is that some of my software will not work with Catalina and I really need them.

Now my question is, once delete everything from my Mac and reinstall High Sierra, what process can I use to bring back the files and apps since Time Machine won’t restore a backup from Catalina to High Sierra?

  • I’ve edited this so there is one question. I’ve also answered some side questions like, you can’t use Time Machine to restore the Catalina files and apps - you’ll need to hand migrate them once you erase and install.
    – bmike
    Apr 11, 2020 at 20:30
  • Sorry High Sierra 10.13
    – DSP
    Apr 11, 2020 at 21:17
  • So I would save the applications folder and all other folders I want to keep on another drive and then once I install High Sierra I can then drag the applications folder into High Sierra.
    – DSP
    Apr 11, 2020 at 21:24

1 Answer 1


Manually copy the files over from Time Machine.

Just because you can’t restore doesn’t mean you can’t browse and copy. Understand, that you’re not going to restore applications and settings, but you’ll be able to bring over your data with no problem.

In fact, I’m doing this exact process with my new install of Catalina rather doing a restoration or using Migration Assistant.

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