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Is it possible to restore a single file (e.g. my Aperture library) from a Time Machine backup when I reinstall the OS?

I want a fresh install and not restore the whole system from backup.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Sure, you can access your Time Machine backups, they're just files and folders.

Look in Backups.backupdb/Latest/ on the destination disk for a copy of your disk contents. Just copy the files you want to keep over to your system disk.

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Yep i guessed so, but i had to be sure. Don't want to loose the whole lib :) –  Erik Aigner Oct 16 '10 at 10:42
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Hold down Option while clicking the Time Machine icon. That will change "Enter Time Machine" into "Browse Other Time Machine Disks". Find whatever you want to restore there.

(Alternatively, why not restore your whole account? That's an option during a brand new installation. And note that OS X 10.5.3 or newer is required for a reliable backup!)

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More convenient, but doesn't work with FileVault protected home directories I assume. Good to know anyway –  Daniel Beck Oct 16 '10 at 10:49
    
True, with FileVault you cannot restore a single file, but that's not really different when browsing into the file structure manually? One could restore the whole FileVault image though. (Apart from that, I guess this is not about FileVault, is it, @Daniel?) –  Arjan Oct 16 '10 at 10:57
    
You can open the disk image easily while browsing the directory structure; I'm not sure how that would work in the TM "viewer". Since I'm a TM+FV user myself, I'm accustomed to just ignore the viewer, which is basically useless with FV enabled. Upvote since I had a similar issue a while ago and didn't know about this. –  Daniel Beck Oct 16 '10 at 11:26
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