Time Machine and restoring backups across OS updates

exi

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 16, 2012
322
32
Did a clean install of Sierra when it was released. Backed up key personal/financial/etc data to an external drive. Had been using Time Machine as well to a Time Capsule.

Seems there's one thing missing from the external drive that wasn't backed up when I did it manually. I did not wipe the Time Capsule when I set it up to work with Sierra, having done a clean wipe to upgrade from El Capitan.

My question is: is there a way to go into Time Machine to go back to days when El Cap was on this machine to restore the file in question? I don't want to roll back to El Cap -- it's just one file.

When I go into TM, I can browse back to the day of upgrading to Sierra, but not before it. Wondering if there's something I could do otherwise. The only thing I can think to do is to clone my current install to an external drive, do a recovery boot and restore from Time Machine which will take forever, save that file, and then re-clone my current install to the internal drive. Needlessly complicated.


Unsure if Migration Assistant could be used to manually restore/migrate from a particular backup dating back a month or so, but not since then.

Thanks in advance.
 
Last edited:

exi

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 16, 2012
322
32
Don't see a file-specific option in Migration Assistant. Any other thoughts?
 

Ebenezum

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2015
782
259
Is the file OS related or personal?

If you created the file yourself then you should be able to copy it using Finder.
 

exi

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 16, 2012
322
32
Personal. Finder in TM you mean? Oddly, it won't let me browse back to prior to Sierra.
 

Ebenezum

macrumors 6502a
Mar 31, 2015
782
259
Strange.

If you open the Time Machine drive in Finder you should be able to see the previous backups made by Time Machine organised in folders by date created.

Be careful not to delete anything from the Finder, doing so could cause serious problems with the backup!
 

exi

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Oct 16, 2012
322
32
Silly mistake on my part.

I had tried using the Time Machine interface itself to browse back to the backups in question. TM wouldn't let me do so.

Going through the Finder as you've described -- just the Finder, without touching Time Machine -- I was able to go through the folder hierarchy and copy the file in question from just before I upgraded to Sierra. Forgot all about doing it that way. Thanks for the reminder.