How to Configure Time Machine on Your Macintosh

Time Machine is one of the most important items that comes with every Macintosh computer. This is the software–not hardware–that automatically backs your critical and important data up in case of total loss. You will have to purchase an external hard drive (purchase here) before you can use Time Machine.

What exactly is Time Machine?

To make sure your data is completely backed up on your Macintosh, you should use the built-in backup software, which is called Time Machine. This software is on every Macintosh that is running OS X 10.5 or later. The Time Machine icon is in your menubar, and looks like this:

Time Machine Icon

Once you locate this Time Machine icon, click on it and choose “Open Time Machine Preferences…” from the pop-down menu. This will bring you here, to the main Time Machine preferences window:

Time Machine preferences

From here, you want to make sure you have actually selected your external hard drive as the hard drive Time Machine will start to use. Simply hit the “Select Disk…” button and you will see the window to choose your external hard drive:

Time Machine Disk Choice

At this point, simply select your external hard drive from the list (there may only be one choice, depending on how many external hard drives you have plugged in!) and then hit the “Use for Backup” button. A message asking to reformat, or erase, this hard drive may appear. If you have no critical data stored on this hard drive (it should be empty since you just bought it) then proceed with the erase. This will initiate the hard drive and get it ready for backup!

Make sure you have the large ON and OFF switch turned to the ON position.

Close this window and Time Machine will begin the backup process, which could take hours. When it’s complete, you will see something like this in the Time Machine menubar icon, which states when the last backup successfully occurred–keep in mind, Time Machine backs up every hour while the hard drive is plugged in:

Time Machine Done

Feel free to contact Capital Mac with any questions about backing up your important data with Time Machine.