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Is it possible to add label, tag or notes to Time Machine backups. Lets say after fresh reinstall of OS X - label it as "Base System 1" then after few days (at some point with more software/work) "Designer Workstation - Base System 2" etc.

So, in case if system needs to be restored to a known good state (because of crash or otherwise). It would be easy to look at tag/notes and decide which one to restore. Than to just look at date-time stamps.

I know full bootable clones are the way to go. In addition to one bootable clone, it will be great to have multiple tagged restore points in Time Machine.

Is there a way to achieve this?

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  • I don't think you can do that, Time Machine runs fully automated when you connect the backup disk. What you could do, though, is to add a calendar named "Backups" to Calendar and create all-day events when you reach an installation milestone. Not very elegant, but you can consult it on your smartphone or iPad (if you own one) when you need it. The other solution is to write it down to piece of paper, not that elegant either...
    – jaume
    Oct 19, 2012 at 8:40

3 Answers 3

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No, it's not possible to tag any specific revision in TimeMachine.

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In brief - tag a file on your filesystem and let Time Machine store the tagged file. You could also decide to keep a text file anywhere on the backup and adding tags / labels / narrative to that file. Someone could program a UI for this and present the history of Time Machine backups quite easily since everything is stored in a native filesystem storage view. I haven't seen any program that does tagging, but you might look at BackupLoupe for browsing your backups.

If you had a general purpose tagging system using spotlight - that also would work for searching since spotlight also indexes Time Machine backups:

In practice, I can usually figure out which backup I need by looking at the contents of a backup and checking the modified date of a specific App or system file to correspond with a specific update or install. I do see how for some, having a place to write detailed notes to evernote or a text file or elsewhere would be useful in parsing a Time Machine store - especially if your store isn't full or long enough where Time Machine starts deleting older backups to reclaim space for newer versions of files.

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Yes,I find a sample way to do that, just use the command line add a Readme.txt on the backup disk. My backup disk mount path is "/Volumes/TimeHub", Example command like this:

sudo touch /Volumes/TimeHub/Readme.txt

Input your password

sudo vi /Volumes/TimeHub/Readme.txt

Input your password againt, then, you can write down any info by vi, sample and easy.

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    How does this work with TimeMachine and solves the problem described in the question?
    – nohillside
    May 4, 2022 at 17:40
  • Instead of directly labeling the backup files, this method is to leave a description file at the root of the backup disk to explain what key changes each backup has made to the system, similar to the update log of software May 6, 2022 at 11:43

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