How to Restore OS X’s Address Book Data From a Time Machine Backup


Lauren writes: I recently had to do a clean reinstall of OS X and I backed up everything except my Address Book contacts. I do have a Time Machine backup; is there a way to extract just my contacts from the backup?



Yes, there is a way to restore Address Book content from a Time Machine backup. However, it’s important to note that Address Book data is used by many applications throughout OS X, so before we begin, make sure to quit all open applications to make sure we minimize the possibility of introducing problems.

Location of Address Book Data

Next, to be on the safe side, make a backup of your existing Address Book library. That information is located in [home]/Library/Application Support/Address Book.

Now, hop over to your Time Machine drive in Finder and navigate to the same location under “Latest” in the Time Machine backups folder. Copy the entire contents of the Address Book folder from the backup and overwrite the contents of this folder on your system drive.

Once the copy is complete, relaunch Address Book and you should see your contacts listed, current as of the date of your last backup.

Note that in this case, the listener had performed a clean installation of OS X and her Time Machine backup was no longer linked to her system. If you have a current backup that’s still linked to the OS, simply navigate to the Address Book folder on your system drive, launch Time Machine, and restore the files from within the Time Machine interface.