Is is possible? What is the easiest (most hassle-free) way of accomplishing this?

  • Why is this "community wiki"? Aug 25, 2010 at 12:52
  • 1
    @Philip: Per the meta discussion I'm moving some questions I feel have the most validity from Area51. I don't wish to gain any rep from these as they are not my questions. It also give people the ability to expand on them and make them better.
    – Josh K
    Aug 25, 2010 at 15:28

3 Answers 3


To recover your entire system:

1) Connect your Time Machine backup disk to your computer.

If you’re restoring your system because of a problem with your startup disk, make sure the disk has been repaired or replaced.

2) Insert your Mac OS X Install disk, and double-click the Install Mac OS X icon.

3) In the Installer, choose Utilities > Restore System from Backup.

4) In the Restore Your System dialog, click Continue.

5) Select your Time Machine backup volume.

6) Select the Time Machine backup you want to restore.

7) Follow the onscreen instructions.

  • 11
    You should mention that this was copied and pasted from an Apple.com support page.
    – Dori
    Sep 13, 2010 at 19:40
  • 4
    And what if you don't have Mac OS X Install disk ? Aug 20, 2012 at 15:33
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    To clarify in step 6, does this mean you can restore the entire system from a previous date, as in "I want this system restored as it was three weeks ago?" Jan 21, 2013 at 1:47
  • I love it that my Mac does not have a disc drive so I am 100% sure that none of this disc stuff is required by me Mar 11, 2014 at 3:09
  • @TomaszJaskuλa, you can reboot and hold cmd+R until the recovery screen appears.
    – Ian Dunn
    Mar 20, 2019 at 16:37

In 10.7 and later you can start up from the recovery system and choose Restore From Time Machine Backup.

Or if the backup was made on a different Mac, Apple recommends using Migration Assistant. See Mac Basics: Time Machine:

Restoring your entire system from a backup

If you are restoring a backup made by a Mac to the same Mac

With your backup drive connected, start up your Mac from the Recovery system (Command-R at startup) or Mac OS X v10.6 installation disc. Then use the "Restore From Time Machine Backup" utility.

Note: If "You can't restore this backup because it was created by a different model of Mac" appears when restoring a backup that was made on a different Mac, follow the onscreen instructions.

If you are restoring a backup made by one Mac to a completely different Mac

Important: If the backup you are about to restore is from a completely different Mac, use the Migration Assistant to transfer data from the backup, as described in the next section.


The easiest way would be to start 'Migration Assistant' under Applications/Utilities and then select Time Machine (of course, having it already mounted). This will create a new account with all your entire working data and configuration (on any mac).

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