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Fantastic Voyage: Recovering Lost Files on a Mac with Time Machine

There are as many ways to lose important files as there are kinds of important files. Sometimes it’s an issue of mere carelessness while other times its the result of malware and corrupted files. Whatever the case, it behooves you to have a method for retrieving lost data.

Be Prepared

Unlike third party applications, Time Machine must be configured before you lose your data. So if you’re reading this after having already lost a file then unfortunately you’re too late. Set up and configure Time Machine as soon as possible so that it can begin backing up your data. This will save you a lot of time and headaches down the road.

Back up

Don’t store your Time Machine backups with the device from which you retrieved it. The point of a back up is to have important information in two different, equally secure locations so that if one is compromised you can fall back on the other. Rotate your backups with Time Machine so that you always have a go-to location for files.

Recovering Lost Data on Macs

Time Machine, fortunately, makes the recovery process pretty easy. After it’s been configured, simply enter Time Machine and search for the file you want. In traditional Apple style, the interface has been simplified so that you choose a specific date from a calendar and within that date you choose the file.

Heavy Duty

Now and then things go really wrong and you need to just completely restore your system. You can connect two Macs and put the Time Machine back ups from one onto another, much the way you’d use a traditional recovery disk. This is an excellent feature that you hopefully won’t need, but will prove invaluable if you do.


Time Machine will also help you backup your email. This is great, especially if you use your email as a backup to your computer. Now you have a network of failsafes where both systems are supporting the other. What’s better is that Time Machine will let you store individual emails so that you don’t need to backup an entire inbox. Doing this is as simple as entering Time Machine, finding the email in question and clicking “Restore”.

This is just an overview of the basic functions of Time Machine. With a little experimentation you can learn how to do even more. The important thing is to be proactive and think ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to come up with backup solutions because by then it may just be too late!

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