I found out how to extract a snapshot from a Time Machine backup to an external hard drive. I use:

sudo tmutil restore /Volumes/TMdrive/Backups.backupdb/machinename/2021-11-30-042315/MyHD /Volumes/Safety-HD

(where Safety-HD is the external HD and TMdrive is my Time Machine backup drive).

However after running this command (and waiting for a day or so) when I look at the resulting file system on the new external HD Safety-HD I notice the files and folders from the normal machine root (like Application, Library or System) are inside a folder MyHD:

MyHD --+
       +- Applications
       +- Library
       +- Network
       +- System
       +- Users
       +- ...

It is obvious that I never be able to make a bootable drive out of this! - How can I tell tmutil to restore to the root of the external drive?

Note 1: I tried the -v option like in sudo tmutil restore -v ..., but I get the same resulting folder structure (plus a very long list of info in the Terminal).

Note 2: I know I can restore to the internal harddrive via Recovery HD, but firstly this doesn't work for external drives, plus it is pretty cumbersome to reboot the whole system when I just want to create a safety bootable drive from an old TM snapshot.

  • Can‘t you just mv /Volumes/MyHD/MyHD/* /Volumes/MyHD/? It won‘t make the drive bootable, but then you can‘t boot from TM anyway?
    – nohillside
    Jan 4, 2022 at 6:35
  • @nohillside That’s an idea, but I’m worried that some (soft?) links in the copied FS might be set wrongly then. Furthermore, via the Recovery Hd you can create bootable extracts of TM,so i was hoping there is a way to do so with Apple’s tmutil as well…
    – halloleo
    Jan 4, 2022 at 12:09


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