Starting macOS Time Machine Backups to My Passport and External USB Drives

Time Machine can be used with most external USB hard drives as well as many Network devices. For external drives, the device must be formatted as HFS+ in order to be used with Time Machine


WD Network drives such as My Cloud can also be used with Time Machine. Please refer to Answer ID 3561: Using a WD network drive with Apple Time Machine Backups for assistance in configuring a WD Network Drive with Time Machine


Click on the links below to go to backup or restore section of the article

How to backup and How to restore

Time Machine is supported on macOS versions listed below

  • macOS 10.12 (Sierra)
  • macOS 10.11 (El Capitan)
  • macOS 10.10 (Yosemite)
  • macOS 10.9 (Mavericks)
  • macOS 10.8 (Mountain Lion)
  • macOS 10.7 (Lion)
  • macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard)
  • macOS 10.5 (Leopard)

How to Backup


To perform a Time Machine backup on macOS, connect the drive to your Mac and make sure it is formatted for Time Machine backups


STOP Critical: The instructions in the article below are designed to help repartition and format a hard drive. This process is Data Destructive and cannot be undone. Once the process begins, ALL THE DATA ON THE DRIVE WILL BE LOST!


For additional information, please refer to Apple article HT202784: Formatting a backup disk for use with Time Machine and Answer ID 3865: How to partition and format a WD drive on Windows and macOS


IMPORTANT Important:

Steps and screenshots may vary based on the version of macOS being used


  1. Click on Apple icon and choose System Preferences

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  3. Open Time Machine

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  5. Make sure Show Time Machine in menu bar is enabled so it can be accessed from the menu bar

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    • Please note that the ON / OFF switch has been changed to Back Up Automatically on macOS 10.12 (Sierra)

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  7. Click the Time Machine icon from the menu bar and go to Open Time Machine Preferences

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  9. Choose Select Disk

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  11. Choose the drive (My Passport, My Book, etc.) from Available Disks and click Use Disk

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  13. Choose Replace or Use Both if you have multiple drives attached

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  15. Wait for the Time Machine to configure and start the backup

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  17. Close the Time Machine window

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  19. Click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar to view the status of the backup

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  21. Once the backup is done, open Time Machine Preferences to view the backup status and schedule

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How to restore


For additional information regarding macOS Recovery and Migration Assistant, please refer to Apple article HT201250: Use Time Machine to back up or restore your Mac


  1. Click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and choose Enter Time Machine

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  3. Select the date or time to restore from

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  5. Choose the files or folders to restore

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  7. Click on Restore

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  9. If the files already exist on the Mac, choose Keep Original, Keep Both, or Replace

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  11. Open the restore location (Desktop, Documents, etc.) to view the restored folders and files

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Use of Third-Party Software or Websites
We may recommend use of software, information, products, or websites that are owned or operated by other companies. We offer or facilitate this recommendation by hyperlinks or other methods to aid your access to the third-party resource. While we endeavor to direct you to helpful, trustworthy resources, We cannot endorse, approve, or guarantee software, information, products, or services provided by or at a third-party resource or track changes in the resource. Thus, we are not responsible for the content or accuracy of any third-party resource or for any loss or damage of any sort resulting from the use of, or for any failure of, products or services provided at or from a third party resource. WD recommends these resources on an “as is” basis. When you use a third party resource, you will be subject to its terms and licenses and no longer be protected by our privacy policy or security practices, which may differ from the third policy or practices or other terms. You should familiarize yourself with any license or use terms of, and the privacy policy and security practices of, the third party resource, which will govern your use of that resource.

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