Let’s say you’ve got Time Machine setup to backup all of you files… or at least you think you do. How do you KNOW it’s working? Here are two quick ways to check.

Quick Check

  • There is an icon placed in upper right-hand corner of your menu bar. It looks like this:

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  • If you click on it, you will see the status of your current backup, or a message telling you when the last backup was completed.

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Does it ACTUALLY work though? Can we actually recover a file?

Verify that you can recover files

Let’s actually TEST a file recovery. This will take a minute or two, but will ensure that you are able to both backup and recover a deleted or otherwise lost file. You need to make sure that your backup drive is connected to the computer before starting this process.

  • With the backup drive connected, create a new file on your desktop. This file can be any type of file. For this example, I am going to make a new folder called “Test”
  • Quit any and all applications and close any open files. This will get them out of our way so that there’s nothing to distract us
  • Create a new folder on your desktop. Call it anything, but I’m calling mine, “TEST”

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  • Run a manual TimeMachine backup by clicking the “TimeMachine” icon in your menu bar and selecting “Back Up Now”. This will make sure that the “test” folder has been backed up without waiting for the normal hourly backup schedule.

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  • Wait for the time Machine backup to complete. You will know its complete when the indicator gives you the current time as the “Latest Backup Time”
  • Delete the “Test” folder…
  • Open the Launch Pad (Usually in your Dock).


  • Find TimeMachine – it’s usually in a section called “other”.

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  • Open the “Other” folder and locate TimeMachine

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  • You will see the “Desktop” folder with all your items… except for the “test” folder. Our example desktop is empty, but yours will display anything you have on your desktop.

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  • Use the arrows on the right-hand side to move backwards and forward in your backup history until you see one that contains the “Test” folder.

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  • Highlight the “Test” folder, or any other file you wish to recover, and press the “Restore” button at the bottom.
  • The screen will zoom out and your “Test” folder and or any other files/folders you’ve selected will be immediately restored to your computer.
  • If this all works then you have, in fact, completely verified that you are backing up your files and can restore them as you wish. Congratulations!

More Info

Setup TimeMachine

Secure TimeMachine