Time Machine Problems in Yosemite

Perhaps Time Machine works in standard cases, but for some slightly edge cases it’s completely opaque. After much Googling I’ve finally discovered how to get my old photos from iPhoto back, they had been lost for over a month and I was just about to book a Genius Bar appointment in desperation.

The Problem
The problem is when I upgraded to Yosemite my machine became so slow and unusable I had to reinstall the OS from scratch (the subject of another blog post). At the time I was abroad on a work trip so I thought I’d put my critical docs on a USB stick in case a Time Machine restore fails.

But even with the largest capacity USB stick I only had room for my critical docs, not my iPhoto library which was around 20gb at that point. “No problem” I thought, “I backup religiously, even my backups are synced to the web, so I will definitely be able to get everything back from Time Machine”. No such luck.

The problem seems to be if you reinstall the operating system, or even upgrade to a new major version, the Mac doesn’t recognise your backups as coming from the same disk, so they become inaccessible. When you connect to your Time Machine you can see your backup history in the Timeline on the right hand side but clicking on any dated bar doesn’t bring you back to that point in time, the save points appear to be inaccessible.

The Solution
The solution is a massive hack, and definitely something that you’d never stumble into even after spending ages with trial and error.

  1. Hit “enter Time Machine”
  2. Press the key combination shift-command-C
  3. Then (very important) select a red bar to go back in time
    Explanation: dull red bars represent backups you cannot access, bright red bars you can
  4. Then from Macintosh HD navigate to desired folder you want to restore

Backups will now be accessible and you can select the folder you want to restore.

16 thoughts on “Time Machine Problems in Yosemite

  1. Holy control-c batman! How the f**k did you come up with that? After using the nuclear option of erasing my HD and doing a clean install of Yosemite to fix an undiagnosable problem trying to install and run a new version of the Juniper VPN software, when restoring from a perfectly normal time machine disk, I found that a few folders (among them my 93GB entire music library) were there but could not be accessed for restoration Then I found your abra-cadabra and – wham I a now waiting on the last 30 minutes of recovery.



  2. I tried your fix but can’t get access to time machine. Can you explain more or chat or something? I backup religiously and now have *no* access to Time Machine.

  3. I couldn’t agree more, your response made me laugh out loud! Yes Control-C is the answer, took hours of searching through forums to find, a totally undiscoverable but essential thing to know in working with ‘restore from Backup’.

  4. I’ve searched most of the afternoon for a solution!!
    I just installed an SSD drive in replacement of the Optical drive in my iMac late 2009 in order to install the OS Yosemite. I also changed the internal hard disk. Most site tell you to use the Migration assistant program in order to re-install all your software’s but in my case, the MA only recognized my SSD 240GB and not my HDD 3TB, and so I was unable to proceed. Time Machine always stopped after backing up 13,7%, and I could not go any further!! I tried putting my old HDD in an external enclosure, but I did not have a Firewire enclosure only a USB one so that would have taken ages.

    Your Control-C suggestion is saving my life tonight!!! Restore is under way! Thank you very much

  5. You sir are a life saver!

    Have no idea how you found the Command + Shift + C solution. Apple themselves seems to make no mention of this anywhere but without it restoring backups in a situation like this is completely impossible.

    Thank you for taking the time to make this post!

  6. Wow! Yes it does work, but only in finder mode, not in mail mode, where I need to pick out an old mail…. It shouldn’t be a problem restoring my whole whatever gigabyte-sized file though.

  7. Hi folks! I was keen to see if this trick also solved my Time Machine hiccup but I’m afraid it didn’t. I can see the folder I want to restore (Music) but it has a tiny red No Entry sign on it. If I select the folder, it says “Calculating size” for ever. I get the same if I right-click it and run Get Info. I also get the same if I just manually browse through to the backed up folder using the Finder. Does this ring any bells? This was also a Mavericks backup (last week) and I’ve now installed Yosemite. All other folders can be accesed as normal under Time Machine.

  8. UPDATE: I then found I had to change the permissions for that folder. When I set up my new identity in Yosemite I used a different name so Time Machine thought I was an intruder. After I changed the permissions setings it worked. So no panic after all!

  9. That has worked for me. I had searched for apple support and no mention on how solving the problem with Time Machine history backup. Great job!

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