I want to restore my Mac from Catalina back to Mojave using a Time Machine backup from last year. I have some other, newer files created since then that I would like to keep, so will I be able to still see those on the Time Machine drive if I restore?

I don't mind if it's through the Time Machine interface or just in Finder. The drive is encrypted but I have the password.

1 Answer 1


I bit the bullet and restored back to Mojave.

For anyone who has the same question - the answer is yes, I can still see my backups on the Time Machine hard drive, however the Catalina Time Machine format is different to the Mojave one, so I can't access files from the newer backups using the Time Machine app.

However the data is there and can be restored using something like rsync.

Edit with another lesson

Something I didn't know but accidentally saved myself from: Photos on Catalina (Photos 5) stores your photos differently to Photos on Mojave (Photos 4).

Photos 4 uses a logical table structure like:

Originals/Year/Month/Day/Photo Name.jpeg

Photos 5 uses a uuid structure:


For some reason, Time Machine doesn't backup the Photos database. So my method of downgrading and then rsync'ing the newer backup wouldn't work for Photos since rsync would not recognise the different folder structures. Luckily I was paranoid and took a separate, manual backup to a different disk before downgrading.

This manual backup had everything, including the Photos database. This meant I was able to use the python package osxphotos to read the Photos 5 database and pull out any photos newer than my old backup, then import those into my restored Photos 4 library.

osxphotos --db backup/Photos\ Library.photoslibrary export --export-by-date --from-date 2019-07-01 restored-photos

tl;dr before downgrading, take a separate, manual backup of your Photos library, or at least the ./Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/database folder so that you can restore any photos newer than your Mojave backup.

You must log in to answer this question.

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