Restore Mac To Previous Date Title Image

You have a Mac, and something is wrong with it.

It’s not just annoying to have your mac messed up, it can be costly if you need someone else to fix it.

And even worse. If you find yourself in the middle of working on an important project that’s now compromised.

Restore your Mac back to how it was before the problem started.

Use this easy to follow guide. And get back to where you were.

Your Mac doesn’t have a system restore like a Windows PC.  But it does have tools like Migration Assistant you can use. And it’ll get most of your mac back to a previous date. As long as you have a Time Machine backup.

What about rebooting and using Control + R.

Since MacOS Catalina and certainly in MacOS Big Sur. You can’t use MacOS Recovery to restore your entire Mac from your Time Machine backup.

Because an operating system restore is now treated as a separate thing.

Restoring Your MacOS Back To A Previous Date

If it’s a bad piece of software you’ve installed and it’s slowing down your Mac. Or found that an application crucial to you no longer works. And you need to go back to a previous OS version.

You can use Mac OS Recovery mode to restore an earlier OS.

Hold Down Control + R. Or your Power key if you’re on Apple Silicon.  As you reboot to boot your Mac into recovery mode.

Log in as an admin user. And enter your password. And from the menu that comes up pick Reinstall MacOS

Reinstall MacOS


You’ve other options as you reboot.

Like: Shift + Option + Command + R to pick other operating system versions.

This article here on the site ‘Does Time Machine Restore OS‘. Goes into more detail on your options for getting your Mac OS back to a previous date. Check it out.

Restoring The Rest of Your Mac Back To A Previous Date

And by that I mean, your Applications. User info and the files associated with users on your Mac.  Plus prior system and network settings.

It’s now Migration Assistant that’s going to do that for you.

Before you jump in and make major changes to your Mac.

If you can, backup your Mac first to a separate external drive.

Do this if you can before any major changes. Why?

Because you never know.

And it pays to have another backup just in case.

That way you can get back to where you are now and try again if you made a mistake along the way.

Need to order a great drive to do the backup to? Check out the best ones here.

Previous Date Restore With Migration Assistant

Have your external drive with your Time Machine backup to hand.

Quit all Applications open on your Mac. And you’re ready to start.

1. Open The Migration Assistant App.

The App lives inside your Applications folder.

Applications Folder In Dock
Applications Folder In Dock

Inside the Utilities folder.

Utilities Folder In Applicatiions

Click on the Migration Assistant icon to start up.

Utilities Folder Migration Assistant

2. Type in Your Admin Password.

Because you’re making major changes to the files on your Mac.

When your Mac opens Migration Assistant you need to put in your password.

Migration Assistant Enter Password

Enter your admin password and click OK.

3. ‘How do you want to transfer your information?’

The screen asks you this question. In this case you’re restoring back from an earlier date from your Time Machine backup.

Migration Assistant 2nd Screen

So just check the box ‘From a Mac, Time Machine Backup or Startup disk’.

Then click Continue.

4. Pick Your Time Machine Backup Drive.

Click on it and click on Continue.

Migration Assistant 3rd Screen

5. Pick The Backup That Restores Your Mac To The Date You Want.

Click on the backup you want to restore. With the date you want to restore to.

Migration Assistant 4th Screen

Your screen could show you several dates.

Then click Continue.

6. Now You Can Restore All Or Just Sections

You can pick all the options to restore everything.

Migration Assistant 5th Screen

Or just check the box or boxes you want.

Applications. Or a user with their files.

Other files and folders.

Or System and Network settings.

When you’ve chosen click Continue.

7. If The User Name Already Exists.

Which is likely if you’re restoring your working Mac to an earlier date. Then on the next screen pick to delete the existing user information. And replace it with the user information from this earlier date.

Click Continue.

And wait till the restore is done.

Restoring Back A Date Because Your Mac Has A Virus

When you’re restoring back because your Mac has picked up a virus. Then it’s likely you’ll want to wipe your Mac clean.

Boot to MacOS Recovery and use Disk Utility to erase your Mac.

This Apple support doc here tells you how for an Intel based Mac.

Use this doc for an Apple Silicon based Mac.

Then re install MacOS.

And once that’s done use Migration Assistant to put back your user files.

Of course. You’ll need to have a Time Machine backup that dates before the virus. So. you can restore your Mac back.

Your Mac’s Snapshot Feature May Restore To A Previous Date And Time

Inbuilt to your Mac, as long as you’ve at least turned on Time Machine. And your Mac’s internal drive has room.

You’ll have a snapshot.

Even without your external drive plugged in and a backup kicked off.

Your Mac takes local snapshots to your internal drive for 24 hours.

And this could be your answer.

As long as it’s not a virus that’s corrupted your internal drive. Or you have some other internal drive problem.

It can get you back to an earlier date and time.

And on my Mac recently I found out I could go back to a snapshot from a couple of days ago, So you never know.

To find out if this’ll help you.

1. Start Up Time Machine.

Time Machine At Top of Desktop
Time Machine At Top of Desktop

Click on the Time Machine Icon.

And click on ‘Enter Time Machine’ from the menu.

2. In The Time Machine Finder Window.

Along the right hand side of the main finder window you have Arrows. Clicking on the Arrows steps you back through your local snapshots in time.

Mac Snapshot Restore

Click on your Macintosh HD drive

And you can click on the folders in there to step you back to how those folders were when your Mac took the snapshot.

Click restore when you’re ready.

In Closing

The info in this article can help you get back on track with your Mac.

Sometimes all you need is to go back in time and undo the damage that has been done so far.

That’s where Time Machine comes in handy!

This nifty utility lets you do just that – rollback any changes made on your computer since its last backup.

As if they never happened at all.

There are a lot of ways to restore your mac. And we’ve covered some in our other blog posts. Check out what else is on the site!

You’ll be enjoying your MacOS experience once more before you know it!

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