Moving Lion Time Machine backup to a Mac running Catalina

davidg4781

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 28, 2006
2,287
199
Alice, TX
I need some help here, or at least some validation that my plan will work.

I have a friend that originally owned a MacBook C2D running, I'm assuming, Lion when it died (pretty sure it's dead!). She has a Time Machine backup of the Mac. She recently purchased a new MacBook Air, running Catalina. When she started it and set it up, she plugged in the old TM backup and was told it was too old to restore.

She's concerned about pics and other files that are on the drive. What I was planning to do was plug the backup in to a Mac running High Sierra (all I have, or Tiger and Leopard) and restore it setting up a new user. Assuming this works, I'll export all the photos from Photos, throw them back on an HDD, and transfer them to her new MBA. The regular files can be moved right over.

Now, I'm not sure if I would be able to browse the HDD with her MBA and just move the photos over. If it can, it could be messy since it would move the raw photos over, including thumbnails and edits, IIRC.
 

Starfia

macrumors 6502a
Apr 11, 2011
674
350
First question: is the backup unencrypted? If not, you should be able to at least browse and manually salvage the backed-up files.
 

davidg4781

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Oct 28, 2006
2,287
199
Alice, TX
First question: is the backup unencrypted? If not, you should be able to at least browse and manually salvage the backed-up files.
I’m not sure but that’s a good point.

The only thing is photos are held in the Photos app. I may not be able to get to those.
 

Starfia

macrumors 6502a
Apr 11, 2011
674
350
If you *can* browse the backup's files, you might be able to get to [their user folder] > Pictures > iPhoto Library > [right-click and choose "Show Package Contents"]. If you get that far, you're in the folder iPhoto was responsible for managing, with the photos organized into subfolders somehow.

At this point, rather than digging through each of those subfolders, you can choose File > Find and perform a search for all images within that root folder. Then you can, at least, select them all and copy them all where you want them.

Worst case, then, you can dump them all into the new Photos library on the new Mac running Catalina. (You might lose iPhotos' metadata – tags, descriptions, events – in that process, but it's better than nothing.)
 
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