How To Use Airport Time Capsule

Searching for the best ways to use your Airport Time Capsule?

Looking for some how to tips?

Do you have a 5th generation Apple Time Capsule with an internal hard drive then let me give you the best most effective ways of using your little wonder.

The Airport Time Capsule is easy to use, dead easy,

fits perfectly in with your other Apple devices, looks great, is just so flexible and requires minimal input once set up.

So who wouldn’t want one?

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 multiple Mac’s if you have them.

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

Backup your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to iTunes and when your Mac is backed up your mobile devices are backed up 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 that will help

All set up? Great,

Now let’s explore the best examples.

Time Capsule on a Network

1. 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 Wifi 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.

Airport Time Capsule’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.

Once the Airport Time Capsule is set up any of your Apple appliances that are Wifi enabled will be able to see its wifi. They will be able to communicate with each other and with the wider web over the Airport Time Capsule’s Wifi and it’s the first of its major benefits.

To Access Your Airport Time Capsule’s Wifi

Go to your settings menu (System Preferences on your Mac’s).

System Preferences In Dock
System Preferences In Dock

Select Network.

System Preferences Select Network
System Preferences Select Network

And go to the available Wifi networks by clicking on Wifi. Select the up and down arrows to see the available Wifi’s on the list.

Choose Wifi
Choose Wifi

The name you have given the Time Capsule when you set it up will appear on the list.

Available Wifis
Available Wifis

Note if your Time Capsule doesn’t appear then select 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 Wifi network, enter the password, and your done.

You are now connected to the Airport Time Capsule’s Wifi network and you will now have several benefits, such as faster backup speeds and better Wifi performance.

2. Time Capsule Ethernet Connection

In addition to using your Time Capsule over Wifi the second best example is that you can have up to three devices plugged directly into the Airport Time Capsule via its Ethernet ports on the back.

Apple Time Capsule Gigabit Ports
Apple Time Capsule Gigabit Ports

This is really simple and straightforward. Airport Time Capsule has three one Gigabit Local Area Network ports on the back.

Using an Ethernet cable you can simply plug in your Mac and the computer will see the Airport Time Capsule directly connected.

This is the method I recommend if you are wishing to have your Mac use Time Machine to backup to the Airport Time Capsule for the first full backup.

It’s also a way to attach Ethernet cables to your Time Capsule and run them through to another space in your house. This particularly useful where due to the construction of your space Wifi signals are patchy and you need to connect a Mac to your Apple Time Capsule.

The Airport Time Capsule and its internal hard drive can be seen via this Ethernet connection. Time Capsule can be setup and used almost as soon as it is booted up and connected to your WAN router.

3. Time Capsule Backup

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

No more worrying about connecting up an external hard drive regularly to do your backups. As soon as your Mac is on the Time Machine Wifi network,

By default, Time Machine will take an hourly incremental backup of your Mac. Time Capsule’s Backup is designed to work 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.

4. What About My First Backup To Time Capsule

One thing to note:

With the first use of Time Machine on a computer, Time Machine does a full backup. What will get backed up?

Everything on your Mac, all the files, documents, photos and operating system. The totality of your drive, enough to do a full restore if needed.

So if you have a Mac and it is the first backup via the Airport Time Capsule, Time Machine will backup your entire disk, (the backup’s after that will be incremental).

I highly recommend that you do the first backup wired (directly connected via an Ethernet cable directly connected 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 my article here.

Time Machine

5. What if I Shut Down My Mac During The Time Capsule Backup

If you shut down your Mac or send it off to sleep midway through a Time Machine backup to your Time Capsule, then Time Machine will stop the backup. The Time Capsule Backup will then continue where it left off when your Mac starts up again.

6. Apple Time Capsule And Windows

Another fantastic feature is that Time Capsule can be used as a shared drive with your Windows PC. Giving you the full benefits of swapping photos, music or files to work on.

To connect to Airport Time Capsule from Windows;

You will need Airport Utilities for the Windows computer installed and you will also need Bonjour Print Utilities on the Windows Computer installed. Airport Utilities and Bonjour are crucial for the 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.

Once those utilities are installed, to make to an actual connection to Airport Time Capsule from Windows you put the IP address (which by default is for the Airport Time Capsule into Windows Explorer to find the Airport Time Capsule’s hard disk drive.

Once found you can drag and drop files onto the Airport Time Capsule within Windows Explorer.

Bonjour Print Utilities allows you to set up and use a networked printer on your Airport Time Capsule. You can then select it as a printer to use and see the printer with Windows Print Utilities.

7. Use Your Airport Time Capsule As An External Hard Drive

Why add an external hard drive to the Time Capsule in the first place? Perhaps you need a shared disk that both your Mac’s and Windows computers can share. Or maybe you need even more hard drive space.

If you want an additional disk on your Apple Time Capsule you can connect an external hard drive to the USB port of the Airport Time Capsule.

There is only one USB port on the Airport Time Capsule so you have to choose whether you use it for an external hard drive or for a printer.

Connecting the Time Capsule to an external hard drive is an easy and simple process that will take less than five minutes to complete.

To find out how to set up an external hard drive on your Time Capsule, take a look at my article here on the site.

To Use The Airport Time Capsule With An External Hard Drive Attached

The external hard drive must be attached and already working.

Then, transferring files to the external drive on Airport Time Capsule is easy.

You can select the external hard drive under Time Machine. Look for it listed under available drives and use the drive as a backup drive. Or

Drag and drop files to the external hard drive.

You may need to just make sure you can see the shareable drive.

You do this by going to finder and select preferences.

Head to the shared section and ensure ‘Connected servers’ is checked.

Check Shareable in Finder Preferences
Check Shareable in Finder Preferences

Then you will be able to find the external hard drive on your Time Capsule in a finder window.

Under shared on the left hand side of the Finder window, select your Airport Time Capsule and you’ll be able to go to the external hard 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. Time Capsule As A Print Server

Time Capsule can also serve as a Print Server for your network either via WPS via its Wifi or direct connection via USB. Lets discuss 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. Once the printer set up is done.

Time Capsule Printer Setup

Spotlight search for Airport Utilities

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Symbol

type in Airport Utilities into the Spotlight search bar.

Airport Utility Search
Airport Utility Search

Go to the top of the screen and select Base Station and from that menu select add WPS printer.

Or do the same on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch device that you are using to manage the Time Capsule from. Use the Airport Utilities application to set up the WPS printer. It is the same procedure.

You then 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 setup.

To Print From Your Mac Via The Apple Time Capsule

To print to from your Mac, go to System Preferences, select printers.

You will see the current list of printers on the left hand side of that screen.

Click + to see other printers on the network. And then you can select the printer connected to the Airport Time Capsule. Add the new printer to your list of printers and then you are free print to it.

Direct Connection Of A Printer Via Your Time Capsule’s USB Port

Say you have an older printer one that’s wired and needs a USB port. That’s fine with the Time Capsule too.

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

Apple Time Capsule USB Port
Apple Time Capsule USB Port

Reboot the Airport Time Capsule (go to Airport Utilities, select the Airport Time Capsule, select base station, restart) so that the Airport Time Capsule will see the printer is attached.

Now You’ve A Time Capsule Printer Setup

To use;

Go to System Preferences on your Mac, select printers.

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

Click + to see other printers on the network and then you can select the printer connected to the Airport Time Capsule, add it to your list of printers and then you are free print to the new printer.

There is only one USB port on the Airport Time Capsule so you have to choose whether you use it for an external hard drive or for a printer.

9. Airport Time Capsule Guest Network

Say you have users who visit your home or small office.

And you want them to have access to the Internet on Wifi served via the Airport Time Capsule as a guest user.

That way they will not have access to the rest of your Wifi network only the Internet and you can even have a different password set for your guest network compared to the rest of your network.

Again this is really easy to set up as part of the initial installation of the Airport Time Capsule.

When you are setting up the Airport Time Capsule using the Airport Utilities you can select to create a guest network, and assign it a password.

Find out how to do this in my document on the site here.

To use the Time Capsule’s guest network, visitors using your network can select your Wifi network on their device, log in and use it as a guest user.

Your guest can access the Internet, but will not be able to see or access your Mac’s, or the files and documents on your Mac’s.

10. Airport Time Capsule’s Status Lights

The status lights are a visible way of understanding what is going on with your Apple Time Capsule. They can be configured to respond to specific things but by default the status lights are set to;

  • Off – means your Airport Time Capsule is unplugged.
  • Amber – means your Airport Time Capsule is booting up.
  • Flashing Amber – means that your Airport Time Capsule is unable to see the Internet.
  • Solid Green – means your Airport Time Capsule is booted up and working
  • Flashing Amber and Green – There was a problem in start up experienced by the Airport Time Capsule and it is going to restart itself.

If your Airport Time Capsule status light keeps flashing Amber then you may well have a problem with your Internet provider’s router so investigate that. Your Time Capsule may be working perfectly but the problem is elsewhere.

Try using the tools available on your service provider’s router to establish there isn’t a problem with your access to the WAN.

Or perhaps you have something strange set in the Airport Time Capsule’s settings. Double check.

You can get more information on the reason for the status flashing amber light by going into Airport Utility, clicking on your Time Capsule, and then selecting Edit. Your Time Capsule will then tell you more information about the flashing amber light.

Within Airport Utilities you also have an option under Airport Preferences, to select the check box to Monitor Airport base stations for problems.

Then Airport Utilities will walk you through any problems it finds with suggestions on solving the problems.

11. Airport Time Capsule Software Update

Every so often Apple Updates not only Airport Utility. But also the software on your Time Capsule.

It’s useful to check periodically as the firmware on the Time Capsule isn’t updated by default, and every so often network vulnerabilities are found.

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

To Update Your Time Capsule

Open up Airport Utilities on your Mac, you can do this by finding it under spotlight search and double clicking to open up the software.

Select your Airport Time Capsule.

Click on Update (which is next to the version number) and your software will be updated.

If you are managing from an IOS device, open up the Airport Utilities app. Select your Airport Time Capsule and tap version.

Last Words

Thank you for sticking with me on this journey of 11 of the best examples for using your Airport Time Capsule

Airport Time Capsule can be used for several purposes, providing fast Wifi for your Apple appliances, Allowing you to backup wirelessly your crucial files, serving network printers and a networked external hard drive should you need it..

No wonder that Airport Time Capsule is popular among Mac users!