Seagate Time Machine, How to Set Up In 5 Minutes

By Paul Gregory / October 12, 2019
Seagate Time Machine Title Image

You’ve your Seagate external drive in your hand. You’re looking at your Mac.

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

The last thing you want is for something to mess up your Mac. And then find your documents gone.

You know having a Time Machine backup is the right way to go.

But how do you do it?

And how do you do it on this Seagate drive you have?

Read on and I tell you how.

Want a quick high level view on how to set up Time Machine to use your Seagate external hard drive?

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

2. Start Time Machine. Open System Preferences. Double click Time Machine.

3. Turn slider to ON. Click on Select Disk.

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

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.


Then your drive is powered by and from your Mac through its USB cable. And before starting up your backup, it’s well worth plugging your Mac into a power outlet. 

You really don’t want your Mac running out of battery power before it’s finished your backup.


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 a USB 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 Mac’s. Then you’ll have USB C thunderbolt ports. And you’ll need a different end to the plug.

USB C Cable End
USB C Cable End

Get yourself an adaptor. You’ll find them easily available on Amazon and then plug in.


What do I mean by that?

For your Mac to use your Seagate drive with Time Machine it needs to be formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system.

Pop over to this document on the site “How to Format a Seagate Hard Drive for Mac. It’s Simple“.

And once you’ve formatted your Seagate external hard drive you can come back here.

What happens when you plug in your Seagate drive depends on your Mac’s operating system version.

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

And may offer to format your Seagate drive. Go to the document link on formatting above and look at that next.

When you’ve formatted your Seagate drive your Mac may offer to set it up with Time machine.

2. Start Up Time Machine on Your Mac to Backup to your Seagate drive

Your Mac offered to use your Seagate drive for Time Machine?

Click on the button ‘Use as Backup Disk’

And your Mac will use your Seagate as a backup drive for Time Machine.

Otherwise you’ll have to start up Time Machine.

It’s easy to do.

Open System Preferences.

You can use a spotlight search for your System Preferences.

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

Spotlight Search Symbol
Spotlight Search Icon

Type in system preferences.

Double click on system preferences 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

First time you’re setting up Time Machine?

3. Turn Your Time Machine slider to ON.

The first Time Machine screen you’ll see will have a slider button. You use this slider button to turn on and off Time Machine.

Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine Set Up Window
Seagate Time Machine Set Up Window

Slide the button from off to on.

It’s useful to know this button is here. As in the future you might want to turn off Time Machine backups for a while. Maybe because your Mac is busy doing something else.

If you wanted to do that you’d use this button.

Once you’ve turned Time Machine on then check 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 choose your Seagate drive for your Time Machine backup.

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 when you formatted your Seagate drive.

Seagate Backup Plus Time Machine Choose Drive
Seagate Time Machine Choose Drive and Use Disk

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.

There are a few other quick things you may want to know about backing up with Time Machine. Please read on.

How to Backup Your Mac Using Your Seagate External Hard Drive?

Now that you’ve gone through the steps above your Seagate hard drive is setup for your Mac to backup to.

Whenever your Seagate drive is plugged in your Mac will do your back ups on this schedule.

For the first 24 hours your Mac will backup every hour.

Then your Mac will keep a daily backup for a month.

Then Time machine will keep weekly backups for each month. As long as you have room for those backups on your Seagate external hard drive.

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.

The First Seagate Time Machine Backup on Your Mac

Your first Time Machine backup may take a long while.  And if you have a lot on your Mac’s internal drives it could take overnight.

So prepare yourself. Plug your Mac into external power and leave your Seagate drive to backup overnight. So it’s all done in the morning.

Backups after that will be a lot quicker.  Because Time Machine takes incremental forever backup’s.

What does that mean?

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

How do I check the Progress of My Seagate’s Time Machine Backup?

It’s quick and easy to do. Click on the Time Machine icon at the top of your Mac’s desktop.

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

Your Mac maybe preparing your Seagate’s backup.

It may be backing up. Your Mac will show you how much it has backed up and how much is still to go.

Seagate Time Machine Progress Of Backup
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 quite a while.

Be patient. Let your Mac do its thing. You can leave your Mac plugged in overnight and let it get on with the backup to your Seagate drive.

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?

Everything on your Mac. Music, movies, photos, video’s and documents. Your Mac’s operating system.

Everything you need to completely rebuild your Mac if you need to.

And if you backup your iPhone to your Mac it will back that up to your Seagate drive as well.

If you backup your iPad or iPod to your Mac. They’ll be backed up to your Seagate drive.

Trouble shooting Your Mac’s Time Machine Backup to Your Seagate Drive

If you’re having problems with your Seagate’s backup’s 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 Mac OS Extended (Journaled) file system. Time Machine won’t work with an ExFAT, NTFS or APFS formatted Seagate drive. And when you format the drive has to be formatted to use GUID Partition Map as the scheme.

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 external drive by starting up Disk Utility.

And choose first aid to check your drive. 

You can also check this Apple Support Document here.

Can I Use a Seagate Hard Drive on a Mac? (Find Out)

How to Use Seagate External Hard Drive on Mac, 16 Ways

Seagate Expansion Review, 10 Reasons to Buy Your Mac This Portable

Seagate Expansion VS Backup Plus Who’s on Top For Mac

What is the Best External Hard Drive for Mac – Don’t Risk It