evan.musing << current

life and tech stuff by Evan Phoenix

Doing a Time Machine full restore even if it doesn’t want to

with 53 comments

Got a new harddrive for my wifes MacBook. Couldn’t find her 10.5 upgrade DVD, so I tried to use the install DVD for my new MacBoor Pro. The DVD promptly told me it would not install (Apple cripples the OEM DVDs to only reinstall on the same make of machine), but it did not exit. So I select Restore from Time Machine Backup from the Utilities menu.

Nothing happens.

I try a few times, nothing. I give up for a while. Upon returning and seeing it still doesn’t work, I open the Install Log under Window.

I notice there are number of entries listed: Unable to load XIPanel_RestoreIntroduction nib file. Ok, well something is wrong with the Installer.

Terminal to the rescue. Open it up, do find / -name “XIPanel*” and find a number of them in a Resource folder. Ok, so it’s there, this must be a bug in the installer. Now we get serious. If you’ve gotten this, here’s what you do to get the Time Machine Restore to launch:

  • Open Terminal
  • Run ps ax and find the listing for Mac OS X Installer.app, note the number of the far left for it (the Pid)
  • Run kill pid_of_installer
  • You should now get a dark grey background, you’re doing great.
  • Run export LANG=en_US.UTF-8. I’m not sure if this matters, but I did it, so you should too
  • Run cd “/System/Installation/CDIS/Mac OS X Installer.app/Contents/MacOS/”
  • Run ./Mac\ OS\ X\ Installer “/System/Installation/Packages/OSUpgrade.pkg”
  • The installer should popup and say Welcome and such (likely with no graphics, thats ok)
  • Click Yes/Continue enough for the Utilities Menu to appear at the top and select Restore from Time Machine Backup
  • With luck, it will load! You can now do the restore!

Thanks for playing! Booo to Apple for having bugs in their Installer, Yay to Apple for leaving Terminal available in the Installer!

NOTE: Be sure to leave the Installer in the foreground while it restores, otherwise it will stall!

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Written by evanphx

June 2, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

53 Responses

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  1. Pretty cool.


    June 2, 2009 at 7:38 pm

  2. insert semi-snarky comment about Windows being superior, without really understanding what you are talking about, but being loyal to the company nonetheless. :)



    June 3, 2009 at 9:55 am

  3. Insert snarky comment about there being no way for a normal user to perform a backup on Windows.


    June 3, 2009 at 9:57 am

  4. wow! you’re brilliant!!! I’m a such a novice.. how in the world did you know how to do this? I would really love to learn this stuff, although i’m not sure I’m smart enough. :-)

    Thank you so much for investing the time to publish this.

    Many many Thanks :-D


    June 15, 2009 at 9:01 am

  5. This was a lifesaver for me! Thanks!


    June 16, 2009 at 12:35 pm

  6. Very helpful! Thanks!


    July 15, 2009 at 3:08 pm

  7. Saved my backup!! Thanks a lot.

    Also hard to find an answer to such a specific question.


    August 6, 2009 at 10:28 am

  8. nice tip…I’m mid-restore now, thanks! This is a work computer that I’d kept my own time machine backups for, the hd died and they restored it to the OS but wouldn’t support my backups or give me the media. grrr.


    August 10, 2009 at 7:28 pm

  9. I am really a novice, but after following these instructions I get nothing. I’m sure I’m not doing something properly. Help!


    September 13, 2009 at 6:10 am

  10. This was great for using OSX 10.5 install media for restoring my iMac G4. The frustrating part I missed a few times is that I first had to format the new hard drive with an appropriate boot record for Mac since it came with windows. That and my machine is old enough that the hard drive was too big to use without partitioning it. It’s a pity more of this logic isn’t built in to the software.


    October 6, 2009 at 6:37 am

  11. That just saved my system. Thanks so much. The only thing I would say is that you should make it clear that you need to run kill then the NUMBER of the pid. That is for idiots like me who don’t have your computer skills.


    October 18, 2009 at 11:47 pm

  12. Dude you are a freaking genius


    October 23, 2009 at 8:26 pm

  13. I’m not sure why, but backslashes weren’t working for me, and I had to substitute:

    ./”Mac OS X Installer” “/System/Installation/Packages/OSUpgrade.pkg”

    in place of

    ./Mac\OS\X\Installer “/System/Installation/Packages/OSUpgrade.pkg”

    just in case anyone else was having this issue…



    December 9, 2009 at 9:55 pm

  14. Yeah! You saved my day… thanks alot!


    December 19, 2009 at 4:10 am

  15. Saved my life, thanks so much!


    January 3, 2010 at 6:45 am

  16. Evan, I’d like to say both thank you and to go to hell. You see I had thus exact issue and to be honest this was a last resort for me and it worked my trusty ol’ power mac will once again serve my needs! Now, I say go to hell because I was really looking forward to the possibility of getting a shiny new Mac and now since your post has fixed my issue I’m committed to my G5 for god knows how long! :)


    January 5, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    • You’re welcome and screw you. :D


      January 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm

  17. Amazing. Worked. You are a genius.


    January 21, 2010 at 9:41 pm

  18. Thank you so much, worked perfectly :)


    February 5, 2010 at 1:16 pm

  19. Hi Evan,
    I’m mid restore now so only time will tell if you are a lifesaver. Everything showed up just as you said it would until the very end. I didn’t have the opportunity to restore from backup, it simply asked me to begin installation of the os x upgrade. Did I miss a step somewhere? Will I have the opportunity to restore from backup later? Its currently “checking the dvd I’m using for the install for ‘consistency'”. Thanks in advance for the help

    Duncan Anderson

    March 4, 2010 at 9:35 am

  20. Caught my mistake, restoring now. I can’t thank you enough man. I’m in DC for the semester, without my orig. Install disk of course and with a computer that just basically died on me. I erased the HD, but then it wouldn’t let me restore from time machine! If I hadn’t found your site idk what I would have done. Where did you learn to use terminal commands and stuff? Did you just figure this out by trial and error?

    Duncan Anderson

    March 4, 2010 at 10:12 am

    • I know this is an old post but my friend is having this exact issue with his MacBook and I followed everything properly until, like Duncan, didn’t give me the option to restore. Simply asked to install. I was wondering if either Duncan or OP knows how to fix this issue. Thanks!


      July 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm

  21. Duncan: Glad to hear I worked! The terminal stuff is second nature to me, I’m an old Linux guy. Started with OS X in the 10.0 days, when you’d still have to do a lot with the Terminal.

    I knew that Apple frequently leaves stuff pretty open, so I just had to spend a little time poking around and some trial and error.


    March 4, 2010 at 10:37 am

  22. Lifesaver! Much appreciated :)


    March 22, 2010 at 11:51 pm

  23. Evan, thank you for this! I am currently at a client replacing a failing drive on a G5 that had been upgraded to 10.5 by his school, so he had no Leopard disk, but am currently using the restore DVD from his MBA and your work to restore from his Time Capsule (and I managed to leave my disk binder at home). Thanks for saving me a trip!

    Joe White

    April 8, 2010 at 10:01 am

  24. Thanks Evan. I can’t say that it saved my day, but it definitely saved about 4-6 hours of my time, which, ok is maybe about a days work :-). My wife’s G4 iBook’s HD died yesterday, and having a TM backup I assumed everything would be OK. So I stripped the iBook down and replaced the HD (which is not a trivial matter) and buttoned it all back up. To my horror after booting the original Leopard retail disc that I installed the system with (you know leopard won’t officially install on a 800mhz iBook right? :P) the TM restore facility refused to start – just because I’m not allowed to have 10.5 that I purchased, installed on an iBook. Damn you apple.


    April 12, 2010 at 11:05 am

  25. It seemed to work until the restart after the restore… Then I got the “you need to restart your computer” message and don’t what to do…


    June 21, 2010 at 12:33 pm

  26. Thanks Evan, that was very helpful. But am I the only one left wondering why Apple would ship a DVD which includes a bug fix for the buggy installer instead of shipping the bug-fixed installer? And why does this issue not merit a mention on “Mac OS X 10.5 Help : Recovering your entire system” here:


    Any ideas anyone?


    June 24, 2010 at 1:29 am

  27. dude you are the man.


    July 29, 2010 at 6:29 pm

  28. hi,
    great post nut i am having trouble reaching the end. Do you mind helping a complete novice?

    1, How the hell do i get back slash? i have a swiss keyboard set “qwertz” and in the terminal it seems to go “qwerty” but cantget the backslash. I tried the ” marks but it didnt work. on the last line ./Mac\ OS\ X\ Installer “/System/Installation/Packages/OSUpgrade.pkg” it says the directory doesnt exist.

    2, can i do this when i am in my normal operating system or when i have put the boot disk in?

    3, do i need the quote marks?

    sorry for being so dumb, bt i am so desperate to sort this.


    September 15, 2010 at 11:33 am

    • You don’t need the quotes on the argument but you do need either the backslashes OR quotes on the command itself (because it has spaces in it). So try:

      ./”Mac OS X Installer” /System/Installation/Packages/OSUpgrade.pkg

      That’s all on one line. Hope that helps.


      September 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm

  29. Excellent post/tutorial, totally saved my new-drive migration. Found this googling for “unable to load XIpanel_restoreintroduction” and every other result had “experts” saying you’d have to get a DVD specifically for your machine. Let’s hear it for the intrepid terminalistas!!

    s p

    October 19, 2010 at 7:30 pm

  30. Thanks Evan, sometimes Time Machine really hick ups on me. We run in a complicated server environment and do multiple Time Machine back ups.


    February 7, 2011 at 5:47 pm

  31. You are a stud – this is a great fix and has saved me a trip to the Apple Store!!


    February 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm

  32. Awesome post.

    You deserve:

    1. Visit from Jobs.
    2. 10k Apple options at 1995 strike price.
    3. Check from Apple Support in amount of $100k.

    Stop by Coloft and I’ll buy you a beer.


    March 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

  33. Merci beaucoup!


    April 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

  34. Life Saver, thanks mate :)


    May 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm

  35. Thank you so much for posting this. Saved me a trip to the office on a rainy sunday.


    May 22, 2011 at 2:54 pm

  36. Please contact me. I have tried your instructions a dozen times. My life and business are on an non accessible back up. I am very experienced on a mac and I cannot get any of these commands to work past the export Lang=en etc. And even that doesn’t show anything. When I kill the Installer and go to grey scree terminal says =bash:3.2#. is this normal?

    I have been losing money by the day. I need help please.

    Taylor McCabe

    June 22, 2011 at 11:02 am

    • 6th bullet. Run cd “/System/Installation/CDIS/Mac OS X Installer.app/Contents/MacOS/”
      Do each Cd level individually. Fixed my problem rest worked as typed.


      August 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm

  37. Thanks… so glad your help still comes up on Google.

    I did have to use the following command:

    ./Mac\ OS\ X\ Installer “/System/Installation/Packages/OSUpgrade.pkg”

    Patrick Furgerson

    July 30, 2011 at 3:24 am

  38. I put in the commands exactly as they are shown here, but at step 5 nothing happens and my attempts to enter the following commands is met by Terminal telling me: No such file or directory. What am I doing wrong? I’ve been trying everything to get this to work!


    August 26, 2011 at 3:47 pm

  39. Thanks heaps, man! Saved my Day and I could restore my MacBook unibody Alu to my older white MacBook. Nice, nice.


    September 13, 2011 at 10:46 pm

  40. This worked perfectly! Shame on apple for shipping a faulty installer!

    (of note, I did have to use
    ./”Mac OS X Installer” /System/Installation/Packages/OSUpgrade.pkg
    to get it to work)


    September 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm

  41. Every works fine for me but the a get a segmentation Error. Do you have an answer or ideas why? Ive been trying to work at this for 2 days now and I can’t get anywhere. Thank you.

    Tim Day

    October 19, 2011 at 12:42 am

  42. Thanks!!!!! You are GOD!!! My problem was slightly different. iMac 27 mid-2010 won’t restart after unistalled MacKeeper. Tried all combinations,during three days, verbose, target mode, single user, boot cd, all. Could not get to time machine until I found your post. Used your suggestions and immediately after “Run kill pid_of_installer
    You should now get a dark grey background, you’re doing great.” got access to time machine backup. Now restoring, if you don’t hear form me, it went well!!!! Time remaining, 60 hours…hope it will not be true!!!


    October 29, 2011 at 7:31 am

  43. This worked for me installing a Macbook 10.5 onto a Mac Mini but did not work installing a macbook pro 10.6 onto a macbook. It started the install but failed to complete it. I tried twice but failed both times.


    December 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm

  44. I just had to thank you too. You certainly have some extra brain power to be able to see that deep into apple’s labyrinth of codez. :-)

    Thomas goddard

    February 18, 2012 at 10:24 am

  45. The instructions are perfect and work like a charm. Thank you!

    Jason Inc

    April 30, 2012 at 10:28 am

  46. This is by far one of the most helpful topics of the last few years!!! I was getting desperate; had to reinstall OS but installer (from usb drive) kept reporting errors. Internal hard drive had already been formatted. A time machine backup was my very last resort! Many many thanks and keep up the sharing of knowledge!!!


    October 2, 2012 at 2:36 am

  47. “export LANG=en_US.UTF-8″ – it doesn’t matter ;)
    Cheers and thanks


    April 28, 2013 at 2:10 pm

  48. Thank you!!! Was starting to get depressed b/c the install disks for my wife’s laptop were from 10.4 prior to time machine, so we were using my laptop’s 10.5 disk. This not only allows us to solve our immediate problem of restoring onto her upgraded hard-drive with her time machine, but also looks like I could now do a clean install from a different laptop’s OEM disk, which has caused me constant headaches when upgrading older laptops to 10.6 (Apple no longer sells the install disks except if you call them and plead!).

    Thank you!


    May 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm

  49. It sounds more like you have a HDD issue, and the restore isn’t able to overwrite the partition boot record. I’d format the drive first to rebuild the partition records – use a proper disk utility like Paragon to ensure the drive is okie dokie. Then try a rebit restoration.

    Flood Damage Sacramento

    June 13, 2013 at 2:42 am

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