Seagate Time Machine Title Image

You’ve your Seagate external drive. Or Seagate solid state drive in your hand.

You’re looking at your Mac.

You want a Time Machine backup so that you can keep your documents, photos and music safe.

But how do you get one set up on this Seagate drive you have?

Read on and find out how.

Seagate Time Machine Quick High Level View

1. Log into your Mac and plug in your Seagate external drive’s USB cable.

2. Open System Preferences. Double click on Time Machine to set up.

3. Click Select Disk.

4. Pick your Seagate external hard drive. Click Use Disk.

5. Put a check in the box ‘Backup Automatically’. Your Mac’s Seagate backup will start in a couple of minutes.

And now to put some flesh on the bare bones above.

How To Use Your Seagate External Drive With Time Machine

1. Log Into Your Mac. Plug In Your Seagate External Drive’s USB Cable.

Are you using one of Seagate’s portable range of external hard drives?

Then your drive is powered by your Mac computer through its USB cable.

Using one of Seagate’s desktop range of external hard drives?

Then you’ll have a separate power plug for your drive.

Plug your desktop Seagate drive into power before plugging in its USB cable into your Mac.

Depending on the year your Mac was built you may or may not need a USB adaptor or cable.

Some Seagate drives come with an included USB cable with a type A plug for the end that goes into your Mac.

USB A Cable End
USB A Cable End

And if your Mac is one of the newest Macs. Then you’ll have USB C ports. And you’ll need an adaptor.

USB C Cable End
USB C Cable End

You’ll find an adaptor easily available on Amazon.

Is Your Seagate External Hard Drive Set Up The Right Way For Time Machine?

What do I mean by that?

For you to use your Mac’s backup software Time Machine. Your drive needs to be in a Mac native format.

Like APFS (Apple File System) or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

And with a GUID Partition map as its format scheme.

The Seagate Backup Plus Slim comes ExFAT formatted for example. And the Seagate Backup Plus Hub is NTFS formatted. You’ll need to reformat those drives before you can use with Time Machine.

You’ll use software that’s part of your Mac OS X called Disk Utility to reformat.

Pop on over to this document on the site to find out how to format a Seagate hard drive for Mac.

When you’ve formatted your Seagate external hard drive. Come back here.

What Can Happen When You Connect Your Seagate Hard Drive

What happens when you plug in your Seagate drive depends on your Mac OS X (operating system) version.

Your Mac may spot your Seagate is not in a ‘Mac’ format.

And may offer to format your Seagate as a backup drive and set it up with Time Machine.  If you agreed you’ve no choice on how your drive is formatted.

It’s best to format your Seagate drive yourself.  Follow the article link above to use Disk Utility to format your drive.

2. Open System Preferences. Double Click On Time Machine To Set Up.

You’ll need to set up your Seagate backup disk in Time Machine on your Mac. You do this before you can backup to your Seagate external storage.

Open System Preferences by doing a spotlight search.

Click on the spotlight search icon at the top of your desktop.

Spotlight Search Symbol

Type in System Preferences.

Double click to start it up.

Spotlight Search System Preferences
Spotlight Search System Preferences

You’ll find Time Machine as one of the programs you can start up inside System Preferences.

Double click on Time Machine.

Time Machine in System Preferences
Time Machine in System Preferences

3. Click Select Disk.

The first Time Machine screen you’ll see will have a check box under the Time Machine logo. By the text ‘Backup Automatically’. For now leave this box unchecked. Until you’ve set up Time Machine.

Seagate Time Machine 1st Window

Look at the bottom of the pop up window. Put a check in the box to show Time Machine in the menu bar at the top of your desktop.

Then click ‘Select Disk’.

Your Mac will then show you the next Time Machine window.

4. Click On Your Seagate External Hard Drive. Click Use Disk.

In this window you click on your Seagate to set it up as your Mac Time Machine drive.

This Time Machine window shows you all the external drives you have connected to your Mac.

And it also shows you all the partitions (parts of drives) you have connected.

You click on the name of your Seagate drive.

Or the name of the Seagate partition. If you created one for your backup when you formatted your Seagate external storage.

Seagate Time Machine 2nd Window

Then you click on the button ‘Use Disk’.

And there. You’ve set up your Seagate external drive for your Mac to use for a Time Machine backup.

5. Put a Check in the Box ‘Backup Automatically’.

One last thing. If you’d like your Mac to backup to your Seagate storage when you plug it into your Mac.

Then, put a check in the box ‘Backup Automatically’. And a few minutes after you’ve plugged in your drive your Mac will prepare and kick off your backup.

How Does Your Mac Backup To Your Seagate Storage Work?

Whenever you plug in your Seagate backup disk. Your Mac will back up on this schedule.

For the first 24 hours your Mac will back up every hour.

Then your Mac keeps daily backups for a month.

After that Time machine will keeps weekly backups for each month.

After that Time machine keeps weekly backups for each month.

Your Time Machine backups are incremental forever.

What does that mean?

It means that after your first backup Time Machine backs up only your changes. And anything new you’ve put on your Mac, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

And if your Seagate external drive runs out of room for your backups. Then your Mac will delete the oldest backup to make room for your newest backup.

Your First Seagate Backup To Time Machine On Your Mac

Your first backup may take a while.  And if you have a large Mac internal drive with a lot on it. Your backup could take overnight.

So, prepare yourself. Plug your Mac into external power and leave your Seagate storage to backup.

Your next backups will be a lot quicker.  Because of Time Machine’s incremental forever backups. As just your changes are backed up.

How Do I Check The Progress Of My Seagate’s Time Machine Backup?

It’s quick and easy to do. As long as you’ve checked the box to show Time Machine in your menu bar in your Time Machine set up.

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

On that menu you can check the progress of your Seagate’s backup.

Seagate Time Machine Preparing Backup
Seagate Time Machine Preparing Backup

Or your Mac may be backing up.

Your Mac will show you how much it has backed up. And how much is still to back up.

Seagate Time Machine Progress Of Backup

And it’ll show you when your Mac is tidying up after your Seagate drive has backed up.

How Do I Make Time Machine Backup Now To My Seagate Drive?

Click on your Time machine icon at the top of your Mac’s desktop.

Time Machine Backup Now
Time Machine Backup Now

And from the menu choose backup now.

And then you’ve kicked of a backup right now.

Useful if you’ve done a piece of important work on your Mac and you want to be sure it’s backed up.

Why Does My Mac Say Seagate Time Machine Preparing Backup?

Your Mac has to scan your entire internal drive. Your Mac checks for changes. Any new files and new applications since your last backup. It compiles a list.

For your first backup this can take quite a while.

And after large operating system updates it can also take a while.

Be patient. Let your Mac do its thing.

How Do I Know When My Seagate’s Backup Is Complete?

Click on your Time Machine symbol at the top of your Mac’s desktop.

The menu there will tell you the time and date of your last backup to your Seagate external drive.

What Does Time Machine Backup To My Seagate External Hard Drive?

All your Mac user data. Music, movies, photos, videos and documents.

Everything except your Mac’s operating system.

That you download direct from Apple.

If you backup your iPhone. Or iPad to your Mac it will back that up to your Seagate drive as well.

Trouble Shooting Your Mac’s Time Machine Backup To Your Seagate Drive

If you’re having problems with your Seagate’s backups here are a few things to check.

1. Check your Mac’s operating system is up to date.

2. Check your Seagate external drive is formatted to APFS. Or Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. With a GUID Partition Map as the scheme.

Time Machine won’t work with an ExFAT, or NTFS formatted drive.

3. You can verify your Mac’s backup’s by connecting your Seagate drive. Holding down your Mac’s option key and clicking on the Time Machine icon at the top of your desktop.  Then choose verify backups. This checks there are no issues with your backup.

4. You can check the health of your Seagate storage by starting up Disk Utility.

And choose First Aid to check your drive. 

You can also check this Apple Support Document here.

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2 Comments

  1. I found your advice on Seagate Expansion and Time Machine backup extremely clear and helpful.

    1. Thank you Tony for taking the time to let us know. So glad you found the article helpful.

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