How To Use Airport Time Capsule Title Image

Ok, so Apple isn’t making Time Capsule’s any more. But you can buy refurbished. Or second user.

And when you’re searching for the best ways to use your Airport Time Capsule?

Or looking for some how to tips? Then let me give you the best, most effective ways, of using your little wonder.

How To Use Airport Time Capsule – The Best Examples

You can rest easy because your Apple Time Capsule not only has powerful Wifi,

Time Capsule supports the backup of your Mac or many Mac’s if you’ve more than one.

And those backups can be perfectly managed, monitored and set up from your iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or Mac.

Backup your Apple gadgets to your Mac. And when you backup your Mac. You backup your mobile devices too.

Time Capsule can even act as a WIFI booster or extender if you need one.

Before we begin, if you haven’t set up your Time Capsule yet then get that done. Not sure how – I have an article here How To Set Up Airport Time Capsule that will help.

All set up? Great,

Now let’s explore the best ways.

Time Capsule on a Network

1. Utilize Airport Time Capsule’s Wifi Network

As this is the most common way of using your Time Capsule, I thought it best to cover it first. The beauty of your Time Capsule is that it has its own Wi fi Network.

Because Airport Time Capsule, 5th generation is a full-featured 802.11ac AirPort Extreme device your MacBook Air, Pro, iMac, Mac mini, iPad Pro, iPad, iPad mini 4, Apple TV 4k, Apple TV or iPod Touch are all supported.

You’ll find this AirPort Extreme device’s Wifi is also compatible with older Apple machines that use 802.11a, b, g and n wifi protocols.

And what’s more can transmit over 5 Ghz and 2.4 Ghz at the same time to accommodate devices that can only use the slower speed and without slowing down your faster apple devices.

Set up your Airport Time Capsule and any of your Apple gadgets that are Wifi enabled will see its Wifi. They can talk to each other. And with the wider web over the Airport Time Capsule’s fast Wifi.

To Access Your Airport Time Capsule’s Wifi

Go to System Settings (from Mac OS Ventura).

System Settings From Apple Menu

In earlier Mac releases it’s called System Preferences on your Mac.

System Preferences In Dock
System Preferences In Dock

Click on Network.

System Settings Network Wifi

It look like this on older Mac OS releases.

System Preferences Select Network

And see your available Wifi networks by clicking on Wifi. Use your up and down arrows to see all the Wifi’s on the list.

Choose Wifi
Choose Wifi

The name you gave your Time Capsule when you set it up will be on the list.

Available Wifis
Available Wifis

Note. If your Time Capsule doesn’t show up. Then click to join another network. And your Mac will do a wider search of all the networks it can see in the area.

Click to join the Airport Time Capsule network, enter the password, and you’re done. 

You are now connected to the Airport Extreme Time Capsule’s wireless network. And you’ll now have several benefits. Such as faster backup speeds and better Wifi performance.

2. Benefit From Time Capsule’s Ethernet Connection

As well as using your Time Capsule over Wifi. The second best example is …

That you can have up to 3 devices plugged directly into this Airport device. By using its fast Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back.

Apple Time Capsule Gigabit Ports
Apple Time Capsule Gigabit Ports

Airport Time Capsule has three 1 Gigabit Local Area Network ports on the back.

Using an Ethernet cable, you simply plug in your Mac. And you can directly connect to your Airport Time Capsule.

Why would you want to do this?

It’s the quickest way to backup to the Airport Time Capsule for your Mac’s first full backup.

And you won’t flood your Wifi network.

It’s also a great way to attach Ethernet cables to your Time Capsule. Then run them through to another space in your house.


This is extra useful where the construction of your house means Wifi signals are patchy. And you want to connect a Mac to your Apple Time Capsule.

You can see your Airport Time Capsule’s internal hard drive via Ethernet.

And you can set up and use your Time Capsule pretty much as soon as it’s booted up and connected to your WAN router.

3. Enjoy A Time Capsule Backup

A major benefit of the Airport Time Capsule is that you can used it with Time Machine.  The Time Capsule backup of your crucial files. For one or more of your Mac’s over your home network is a real boon.

No more worrying about connecting up an external USB drive regularly to do your backups.  As soon as your Mac is on the same network as your Time Capsule.  And you configure Time Machine to use it. You can start of your backups.

By default, Time Machine will take an hourly incremental backup of your Mac. Time Capsule’s backup works seamlessly and quietly in the background. Without you needing to do anything to kick the backup off.

Just set it up and it does the backup for you.

What To Know About Your First Backup To Time Capsule

When you first backup your Mac with Time Machine, Time Machine does a full backup.

What does it back up?

Everything on your Mac, all the files, documents, photos and your operating system. Enough for you to do a full restore if you need to.

Your first backup to your Airport Time Capsule, is your entire disk. The backup’s after that are incremental.

I highly recommend that you do the first backup wired. Directly connect with an Ethernet cable. And plug into one of the Airport Time Capsule’s Gigabit ports. To find out how to set up Time Machine to back up to your Airport Time Capsule.

Take a look at this article here, ‘Set Up Airport Time Capsule‘.

Time Machine

4. Help! My Mac Shut Down During My Time Capsule Backup

If you shut down your Mac. Then Time Machine will stop the backup.

Your Time Capsule backup will then continue where it left off when your Mac starts up again.

But on modern Macs. If your Mac goes into sleep mode midway through a Time Machine backup to your Time Capsule. Then your back up continues.

Either way your Airport Time Capsule takes care of it.

5. Use Apple Time Capsule With Windows PCs

Another fantastic feature is that you can use Time Capsule as a shared drive with your Windows PC.  Giving you the full benefits of swapping photos, music or file sharing.

To connect to Airport Time Capsule from Windows;

You’ll need Airport Utilities on your Windows computer installed. And you’ll also need Bonjour Print Utilities on the Windows Computer loaded up. 

Airport Utilities and Bonjour are crucial. You need them for your Windows computer to see and use the Airport Time Capsule.

Be sure to download them both from Apple.

I’ve included a link to the Airport Utilities software for Windows here.

The link for Bonjour for Windows is here.

When you’ve installed these utilities you then need to connect.

To connect to Airport Time Capsule from Windows you put the IP address. By default it’s Put this into Windows Explorer. And your PC will find your Airport Time Capsule’s hard disk drive.

When your PC can see the drive. Then you can drag and drop files onto the Airport Time Capsule from Windows Explorer.

Bonjour Print Utilities allows you to set up. And use a networked printer that’s on your Airport Time Capsule. You can pick it as a printer to use on your PC. And see the printer with Windows Print Utilities.

6. Why Use Your Airport Time Capsule With An External Drive

Why would you add an external USB drive to your Time Capsule?

You would if you need a shared disk. A disk that both your Mac’s and Windows computers can share.

Or maybe you need a backup disk for more space.

If you want an extra disk on your Apple Time Capsule. You can connect a drive to the USB port.

There’s only one port for USB plug in on the Airport Time Capsule. So, you have to choose whether you use it for extra storage or for a printer.

Connecting your Time Capsule to a backup disk is easy and simple. I’ll will take less than five minutes to do.

To find out how to set up a hard drive on your Time Capsule. Take a look at the set  up article ‘How To Set Up Time Capsule‘ here on the site.

7. To Use Your Airport Time Capsule With An External Drive Attached

Your external hard drive must be plugged in and working.

Then, transferring and file sharing to the external drive on Airport Time Capsule is easy.

You can pick your drive in Time Machine. Look for it listed under available drives. And use the drive as a backup drive.

Or simply drag and drop files to your external drive.

To make sure you can see the shareable drive. 

You go to Finder and select Settings (from Mac OS Ventura). In earlier Mac releases it’s called Preferences.

Finder Settings

Click the General Tab and check the box for ‘Connected servers’.

Finder Settins Connected Servers

Then you’ll see your plugged into Time Capsule external drive in your Finder window.

You’ll find it on the left hand side of your Finder window. Pick your Airport Time Capsule and you can go onto ait nd use your external drive.

You can then cut and paste files as you would on your Mac. And drag and drop files just as you would on your Mac.

8. Treat Time Capsule As A Print Server

Time Capsule can also serve as a Print Server for your Mac’s network. Either as WPS via its Wifi. Or direct connection with USB.

Let’s talk about the Time Capsule WPS feature first.

Many printers now come with Wifi WPS connections. This makes these printers super easy to set up on the Time Capsule.

Set up and power up the printer as you would normally. When you’ve finished your printer set up. Then.

Time Capsule Printer Setup

Spotlight search for Airport Utilities.

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Symbol

Type in ‘Airport Utilities’ into your Spotlight search bar.

Click and select.

Airport Utility Search
Airport Utility Search

Go to the top of your desktop and pick Base Station. And from that menu click on add WPS printer. 

You can do the same thing on your iPhone. Or iPad or iPod Touch. On any of your gadgets that you’re using to manage the Time Capsule from. You use the Airport Utilities software to set up the WPS printer. It’s the same way of setting it up.

You have two choices;

You can select pin and enter the pin that’s associated with your printer.

If it’s the only printer nearby then just choose the first attempt option. And you now have the Time Capsule printer set up.

Access Your Wifi Printer From Your Mac On Your Apple Time Capsule

To print from your Mac.

Go to System Settings (from Mac OS Ventura). On earlier Mac releases it’s called System Preferences, select printers.

You’ll see the current list of printers on the screen.

Click the button Add Printer, Scanner or Fax to add a printer.

System Settings Printers And Scanners

On earlier Mac OS releases you click the + sign to see other printers on the network.

And then you can pick your printer connected to the Airport Time Capsule. Add the new printer to your list of printers and then you’re free print to it.

Using A Plugged In USB Printer

Simply plug in your USB printer into the port on the back of the Airport Time Capsule.

Apple Time Capsule USB Port
Apple Time Capsule’s Port

Reboot your Airport Time Capsule.

You do this by going into Airport Utilities. Pick your Airport Time Capsule, select base station and restart.

This is so that the Airport Time Capsule will see your new printer attached. 

Now Access Your Direct Attached Time Capsule Printer

Go to System Settings (from Mac OS Ventura). It’s System Preferences on earlier Mac releases. Select Printers and Scanners.

You’ll see the current list of printers on that screen.

Click the button Add Printer, Scanner or Fax to add a printer.

System Settings Printers And Scanners

On earlier Mac OS releases you click the + sign to see other printers on the network.

And then you can pick your printer plugged into your Airport Time Capsule.

Again, add it to your list of printers. And then you’re free print to the new printer.

There’s only one port for USB devices on the Airport Time Capsule. You use it either for an external drive or for a printer.

9. Engage Airport Time Capsule Guest Network

Say you’ve users who visit your home or small office.

And you want them to have access to the Internet.

You can let your guests use your Wifi on your Airport Time Capsule as a guest user.

That way your guests won’t have access to the rest of your existing network. Only the Internet.

And you can even have a separate password for your guest network.

Again, easy to set up.

You can set up as part of your initial installation of the Airport Time Capsule.

When you’re setting up the Airport Time Capsule using Airport Utilities. You can create a guest network, and assign it a password. 

Find out how to in this document on the site ‘Set Up Airport Time Capsule‘.

To use the Time Capsule’s guest network. Visitors on your network pick your Wi fi network on their device.

They log in and use it as a guest user.

Your guest can access the Internet. But not see or access your Mac’s. Or the files and documents on your Macs.

10. Make Use Of Your Airport Time Capsule’s Status Lights

The status lights are a visible way for you to understand what’s going on with your Apple Time Capsule. You can configure them to respond to specific things.

But by default the status lights are set to;

  • Off – means you’ve unplugged your Airport Time Capsule.
  • Amber – means your Time Capsule is booting up.
  • Flashing Amber – means that your Apple Time Capsule can’t see the Internet.
  • Solid Green – means it’s booted up and working.
  • Flashing Amber and Green – Your Time Capsule had a problem in start up. And it’s going to restart itself.

If your Airport Time Capsule status light keeps flashing Amber. Then you’ve a problem with your Internet provider’s router. So investigate that.

Try using the tools available on your service provider’s router. And work out if there’s a problem with your access to the WAN.

Or perhaps you’ve set up a wrong setting in your Airport Time Capsule’s settings.  Double check.

But you can get more information on the reason for your flashing amber light.

You open Airport Utility.

Click on your Time Capsule and then pick Edit.

See what it says there.

Inside Airport Utilities you also have an option under Airport Preferences.

Put a check in the box to Monitor Airport Base Station for problems.

Then Airport Utilities will walk you through any problems it finds. And give you suggestions to solve the problems.

11. Utilize Apple’s Airport Time Capsule Software Updates

Every so often Apple updates Airport Utility. And the software on your Time Capsule.

It’s useful to check as the firmware on the Time Capsule isn’t updated by default.

And sometimes network vulnerabilities are found.

To Update Your Time Capsule

On your Mac go to the App Store and search for Airport Utilities. And download the latest software.

Then apply the update to your Time Capsule.

You do this by opening Airport Utility on your Mac.

You can find it by doing a spotlight search. And double clicking to open up the software.

Select your Airport Time Capsule.

Click on Update. It’s next to the version number. And you’ll update your software.

You can do the same on your IOS management device. Open up Airport Utilities. Pick your Airport Time Capsule and tap version.

In Closing

Your Airport Time Capsule is easy to use. Dead easy,

And it fits perfectly in with your other Apple devices. You’ll like the way it looks and it’s just so flexible and requires minimal input once set up.

You get fast Wifi for your Apple appliances.

You can backup your crucial files wirelessly. Serve network printers. Or a networked drive.

So. who wouldn’t want one?

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