Despite being one of the most important utilities on the mac, i realized that many people have absolutely no idea how Time Machine works. I thought that this would be an apt time to do a quick tutorial on backing up your files since the new school semester is starting. Yes, B and A, I wrote this for you.
Most people I talk to tell me things like “I don’t know how to use Time Machine” or “I just send stuff to myself via email” or “I back it up to a thumbdrive”. Sure, you could do that, but those are additional steps needed in selecting your files, uploading them etc. With Time Machine, you literally just need to plug in your external hard drive, and let your mac run in the background. I typically run time machine once a week, just to make sure my important files are backed up. I’ve had far too many bad experiences where I’ve lost days or even weeks worth of work by accidentally deleting a file.
A very important aspect of Time Machine for me is the versioning ability - put simply, I can go back in time and select a specific version of a file (usually a word document that I have modified) and restore it. Another crucial aspect (but less frequently used) is when i reformat my mac (or get a new machine) and i want to transfer all my old files, system preferences etc. into the new machine. I just need to restore the entire backup from Time Machine and voila, good as your old machine!
For me Time Machine is a little bit like insurance - you hope you will never have to use it, but when you finally need it, you’ll thank yourself for having the foresight to back up your documents and files.
I mean it when I say it is a two step process -
1. Plug in your hard drive
2. Click “Use as Backup Disk” when the pop-up dialog comes up.
It’s a little bit pointless for me to cover the entire process in detail since it has been so extensively covered on the web, so here are a few useful links -
For this post, I will highlight some slightly more advanced techniques that I prefer, specifically -
1. Excluding specific folders
2. Restoring specific files
3. Deleting ENTIRE backups
EXCLUDING SPECIFIC FOLDERS
This is particularly helpful when you have limited space on your backup disk, and you only need to back up certain folders.
Right-click the time machine icon in the dock and select “open time machine preferences”
Select options from the Time Machine window
Immediately, you should see a pop-up window that allows you to select folders to exclude from backup.
Click the + sign at the bottom left of the window and select the folders to exclude.
Unfortunately the Time Machine only works like a blacklist (an exclude list of the folders) rather than allowing you to select the folders that you really need. Hopefully apple will have this feature in future updates. For myself, I prefer to exclude my Music and Movies folders since I already back those up in the home server.
RESTORING SPECIFIC FILES
Knowing how to back up your Mac is crucial, but the ability to restore files changes the game. left click on the time machine icon in the doc again and you should enter the window below:
Do the following steps detailed on the screenshot -
Note: The backup versions are listed as horizontal bars on the right of the window. Simply select the date which you want to restore from and proceed from there.
[Click the screenshot to enlarge]
To exit the time machine window, simple hit up the “esc” key on your keyboard and you should be out.
This helps you to reclaim your hard drive space. DO NOT delete your backups via finder it will take a very long time and you will probably end up messing up your permissions. Instead, enter time machine again, right click on any blank space and select ‘delete backup’
be patient it will take awhile to trash that backup, especially if a single backup averages more than 100 gb (like mine).
so that’s it, really…no excuses not to back up now! i suggest making a habit of plugging in your time machine every week (near the exams I’m paranoid enough to back up once a day and also to my dropbox!) and just letting time machine run on its own. Other than the initial set-up, it really is a no-muss, no-fuss solution to backing up all your hard work.
Minimize application windows into the dock icons:
i really hate clutter on my dock and there is no faster way to accumulate a long and messy dock than to minimize application windows onto the dock itself. This system preference minimizes the application window INTO the dock icon itself. Easy peasy!
Go to system preferences > Dock > and check the button that says minimize into dock icon.
John Greenleaf Whittier (via bitchville)
Did you ever want to see a page you are reading on your Mac on your iPhone?
Normally, that meant that you would have to manually type in the url into Mobile Safari. With AirLink, sharing between your desktop browser and mobile is just one click away
Definitely fills a niche in my books!
Mistakes made so far in making my clean install
forgetting to note down the extensions for the browsers
forgetting to sync bookmarks across the browsers (which means most of my bookmarks are gone!! gah. i could use the old backup from last year but most of my stuff won’t be there anymore)
a whole boat load of songs (mostly rated!) are now missing from my itunes despite taking care to ensure that i backed up my songs. Having to manually re-add the songs is a real pain.
all my photoshop actions (even the ones i made myself!!) and brushes are now gone. i managed to save my lightroom presets from time machine, and my fonts have been placed so that’s not too bad.
forgetting to note down my serial numbers! now i have to run a trial version of microsoft office.
steam is not loading! which is annoying me cos i have l4d2 for mac and i want to play it!
to get around the frustration with myself, i’ve been mostly telling myself that i am beginning on a clean slate. You’d think that two clean installs later i’d learn from all these mistakes.
Adobe lightroom 2
final cut pro
here’s my pared down app list (in addition to the built in apps), but I think i can cut it even further. Alot of apps actually have duplicate functionality - like reeder and netnewswire (both are RSS readers). and I’m wondering if i really need 3 browsers - chrome, firefox and safari.
sorry for the long hiatus on the mac front. just finished papers today. there’re a couple of things i want to get down to doing, first of which is to vanilla install snow leopard (maybe lion, i haven’t quite decided) on my mac. So i’m in the middle of transferring my documents and photos and music out to the server, following which i’m going to do a full reinstall, which hopefully will get my mac back to brand new. I’m also doing a time machine back up in case anything goes wonky.
hopefully i’ll be able to document the entire install process - a couple of things i’m doing before i actually get down to reformatting:
Fingers crossed, here we go!