I have OSx Catalina. I have several folders and disks excluded from TimeMachine.


  1. I use Terminal to navigate to Downloads folder.
  2. I touch junk.txt
  3. I Enter Time Machine and navigate to Downloads.
  4. From there the Now frame shows junk.txt.
  5. If I go back in time, junk.txt disappears, yet all the other files still show.
  6. I expect that going back in time from Now frame, all files would disappear in all but Now frame.

Is this a known issue? I understand may be a "System Folder" but I could not find any documentation that states that this folder can not be excluded as well as it shows up in list of exclusions.

However, as comment below, if I peruse through Volume using Finder, I do not see Downloads folder at all.

Odd behavior. Partition is encrypted. Even without decrypting partition, e.g. Disk utiltiy lists partition as Not mounted, I am able to open Time Machine and go back in time as well as restore a file from Downloads. How's that!

  • I am certain, through testing... What testing? What did you find that shows Downloads isn't excluded? I understand may be a "System Folder" I'm assuming you mean to say that Downloads is a "system folder"? If so, no, it's not. It's a user folder. Verifying what TM has backed up is very easy. Open the volume and look through the folders. What do you find? We need more details, remember, we can't look over your shoulder. – Allan Oct 25 '20 at 19:00
  • Are you familiar with reading manual pages for tmutil ? There’s a lot you can do to slice things and force exclusion and remove them to poke at this with great feedback - like you get an errror when it fails... – bmike Oct 25 '20 at 19:40

Great details - since you are in the command line already we should be able to get some very critical details sorted and help you understand how the system works, validate it’s configured and perhaps let you solve this.

The three big commands are tmutil isexcluded and tmutil startbackup --block and tmutil compare

You should be able to check at any time if the file you have is excluded - so start with that and make sure you are agreeing with whether it’s included and excluded as you move it from folder to folder - from ones that are and are not excluded.

Then once you see it included, run the compare against the last backup - see that it’s flagged as different, then force a backup and re-check the compare.

Once you’re sure the backups are happening in the command line (or not) then we can look if you need to diagnose Time Machine itself or if the GUI may be lagging or broken or it’s just a misconfiguration that can be sorted.

  • tmutil isexcluded shows as ~/Downloads is Excluded – paulj Oct 25 '20 at 20:21
  • I like to check the full path to the file. And I presume after you make sure the file is excluded it’s still backing up? – bmike Oct 25 '20 at 21:24

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