How to Restore a Replaced File in Mac OS X

By Charles Miller

Restoring a file is just a few key strokes away on your Mac.
i notebook computer detail image by davidcrehner from

Until recently, the only insurance against the loss of data has been various laborious back-up routines. Most back-up systems are tedious and rarely foolproof. For Macintosh users, the introduction of Time Machine--as part of Mac OS X 10.5 and later operating systems--has made file back-ups a fairly-reliable automated process. Mac users can now restore lost files quickly and easily.

Open the folder where the deleted or over-written file was stored. Close other folders and applications. In the case of an over-written file, rename the new over-written version of the file. This will allow you to place the recovered version of the file into this folder later without having to rename it.

Click on the Time Machine icon at the top of the screen. Drag down and select "Enter Time Machine." This will take you into the Time Machine interface.

Notice the orientation of the interface. On the right side of the screen in a chronology of back-ups dating from the present to the oldest saved backup of this folder. In the center-bottom is the date of the top displayed folder. Using the navigation arrows at the bottom-right of the screen or the "clickable chronology," navigate back to the time or date containing the version of the file you wish to restore. The folder in question now becomes the top folder.

Click once to highlight the file you wish to retrieve. Click on the "Restore" button in the bottom-right corner. This will exit Time Machine and restore the file into the current version of the folder in the "Finder."