Friday, May 6, 2022 [Tweets] [Favorites]

One-click Time Machine Restore

Matt Sephton:

Often I want to restore the latest version of a file from Time Machine, but using the Time Machine interface to do so is awkward and slow. So I came up with my own solution that can be triggered from the Finder context menu of any file.

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This takes a seconds or two, depending on the size of the file in question. Most importantly this saves interrupting my workflow by having to opening the Time Machine interface and zooming through all those windows looking for the file.

6 Comments

A time saver and especially so if you use multiple displays. Time Machine still has that insane bug, at least for me, where it covers the main screen (and its own interface!) with a big black square the size of the secondary display whenever I try to restore something. Have to disconnect the second display just to use it.

Thanks, albeit “Restore from Time Machine” does not show here when Control-click (or right-click) mouse over Finder item. On the other hand, how to do it when you want to restore an accidentally trashed-deleted item?

On the other hand, my posts here did not show here for some time now, until I changed the e-mail today. Why?

Time Machine's user interface is the single worst things Apple ever did to its customers. Just when you actually need the damn thing and are already stressed out because you've lost data, it forces you to learn a completely different way of interacting with your computer, and because it's so different, it'll probably either confuse you to the point where you're unable to restore your data, or it'll break, and you'll also be unable to restore your data. I can not believe that this atrocity has survived for so long.

@MeX WordPress holds some comments for moderation if it thinks they might be spammy. And others it puts in Spam automatically. I’m not sure why that was the case for yours, but anyway when that happens they get delayed until I have a chance to review them or happen to see them in Spam (which is unlikely since there are so many).

>A time saver and especially so if you use multiple displays. Time Machine still has that insane bug, at least for me, where it covers the main screen (and its own interface!) with a big black square the size of the secondary display whenever I try to restore something. Have to disconnect the second display just to use it.

Just tried on 12.4 and can't reproduce on a two-display setup — neither with "displays have separate Spaces" on nor with it off.

So you should probably report that to Apple.

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>Thanks, albeit “Restore from Time Machine” does not show here when Control-click (or right-click) mouse over Finder item. On the other hand, how to do it when you want to restore an accidentally trashed-deleted item?

1) put Time Machine in the Dock
2) in Finder, navigate to the folder that used to contain the item
3) click on Time Machine (you can open it through Spotlight as well, instead)

This will open the historical view of that folder. If you navigate up the timeline, you should find your item that way.

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> Time Machine's user interface is the single worst things Apple ever did to its customers.

I imagine the original space UI was very much tailored towards "Steve wants something to wow people at a keynote" rather than "our UI experts thought this was the best way to convey backup history". Especially the space theme was, IMHO, quite over the top. (As were, unrelated, the multiple sources of light in the Dock.) It's part of why I don't quite understand the nostalgia people have for Snow Leopard. Too many effects!

They've since toned _that_ aspect down.

Other aspects that are… unique… have remained. The expectation is still that you navigate in the OS, pick where you want to go, and then open Time Machine to get a timeline. Nothing else in the OS works like this. It strikes me as more intuitive that you would instead open Time Machine, then _from there_ choose what you want to inspect. That's my more typical thought process, anyway: not "I'm here; now I want the history" but instead "I want the history, then to pick from where". It's cool that you _can_ do that (I believe Jobs demo'd it in Pages; he had a document open and then saw its history), but I don't think it should be the _main_ way to do it.

The timeline itself is an OK approach, if a bit difficult to scrub through. Interestingly, Microsoft has since added a similar timeline in Windows 10's April '18 release, then (I believe) removed it again from Windows 11. Again, it feels like form won over function; it does give me a nice way to see which dates are available, but makes it hard to pick a particular date. Y'know, a control where you… pick a date. Hmm.

I'm generally unclear on whether this should be a full-screen view. It makes sense in Steve's demo where he had a two-up view of the current and previous versions, but for quick "I just want to go through old versions" stuff, I find it overwhelming. A little bit of iPad mentality there, before the iPad shipped.

Then there's the many other aspects such as performance. In my case, getting to a file's history can take almost a minute. In the meantime, there is absolutely _zero_ indication that _anything_ is happening (other than Activity Monitor showing a ton of CPU activity in the intuitively-named mds_stores). In fact, you can continue to interact with the OS just fine, to the point where you might think TM isn't about to open at all. I'm guessing they don't run into this UX issue because all Apple engineers are now on an M1 Ultra with few actual documents no it, but just add a progress window _somewhere_.

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