I know that there is a window where time machine can display its current progress, along with an estimate about how long it will likely take till the current backup is complete. This window did somehow appear during my initial backup. However, I currently can't find a way to manually open that window for a subsequent backup. Yes there is the Time Machine tab in the Control Panel, but that will not provide an estimation of remanining time. Neither does the context menu of the menu bar icon. So how can I get that window?

  • 1
    This window only appears on the first TM run (when you create a new TM backup on an empty disk)
    – nohillside
    Dec 1, 2012 at 23:18
  • @patrix, would you turn that comment into an answer? I find it contains more detail than the current answer.
    – MvG
    Dec 2, 2012 at 11:34

5 Answers 5


I am 100% sure there is no way to see how long the the backup takes just the size of the backup and how much portion of the size it has already backed up like shown below.

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The only time duration that Time Machine shows is when you are restoring from a backup and during the first time you set up Time Machine using a empty hard disk.

I just noticed that "Open Time Machine Preferences" shows a progress bar for the current backup operation. I just upgraded to Maverick recently so this may be a new feature.


This window only appears on the first TM run (when you create a new TM backup on an empty disk)


If you click the time machine icon on the top bar of your Mac, go to Time Machine Preferences, and (assuming you have a backup in progress) the estimated time remaining as well as the file size should show in this windowMine currently says 20.7GB of 47GB, with about 22 minutes remaining

  • 1
    In 2015 this should be accepted answer. Jan 17, 2016 at 23:21

Progress is always available. Go to SYSTEM PREFERENCES --> Time Machine.....

It will show you the current progress. Mine currently at 258 of 388GB (28 minutes left) :)

  • Is that Maverick as well, or something older?
    – MvG
    Jan 5, 2014 at 7:32
  • it should be marked as accepted
    – h4ck3d
    Jul 18, 2015 at 12:58

Note that in Time Machine preferences a progress-bar will only shown when automatic backup runs, not when backup is started manually.

  • This is a) not an answer but should be a comment… and b) incorrect, certainly as of El Capitan.
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 18, 2016 at 8:40
  • It just takes a while for that progress bar to show up. First there is "Preparing backup...", then there is "Estimating remaining time" (or something similar). Jun 22, 2020 at 1:55

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