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

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, 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”
  • 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!

53 thoughts on “Doing a Time Machine full restore even if it doesn’t want to

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


  2. 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😀

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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…


  7. 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!🙂

  8. 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

  9. 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?

    • 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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…

  14. 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.

    • 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.

  15. 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!!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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

  18. 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”

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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!!!

  22. 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.

  23. 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.🙂

  24. 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!!!

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

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