Browse a Time Capsule disk image in the Mac OS Finder

A friend of mine recently acquired an Apple Time Capsule to perform automated wireless backups to using Time Machine from a couple of SOHO Macs. The Time Capsule soon proved its worth when one of the machines went belly-up – we were reasonably secure in the knowledge that the Time Machine/Time Capsule combo had been doing the job of backing data up, but we needed urgent immediate access to certain files on the dead machine’s backup disk image on the Time Capsule itself.

After a bit of looking around, I found a post by a helpful member on Apple’s own support forums with instructions for mounting a Time Capsule disk image in the Finder. It works a treat.

The post may be found here, and the quick version pertaining to a Time Capsule is recreated below. Full credit for this goes to the poster “yschutzer” on the Apple Support forums.

1) Disable Time Machine.

2) Connect to the Time Capsule using the Finder, and locate the relevant .sparsebundle file. The file(s) in question will be named after the machine(s) from which Time Machine was backing up from. Don’t double-click the file itself.

3) Open a Terminal window.

4) Type hdiutil attach -noverify and leave a trailing space: do not press Enter.

5) In the Finder, drag and drop the relevant .sparsebundle file to the Terminal window, which will then automatically fill in its full pathname, for example:

hdiutil attach -noverify /Volumes/Data-1/MyMiniMac_0023e2a145fc.sparsebundle

Hit Enter, and the disk image should then mount in the Finder. Files in the disk image may be browsed and copied. Once done, unmount the disk image in the usual manner, and enable Time Machine.

The only problem I had with this was the Terminal returning “resource temporarily unavailable” errors when attempting to mount the disk image. In short, restarting the Time Capsule resolved this.



11 thoughts on “Browse a Time Capsule disk image in the Mac OS Finder

  1. Mara

    I was in the middle of a Time Machine backup and had to stop midway. When I got home, I was getting this error and knew what had caused it. So many searches online gave longwinded fixes.

    This was quick and to the point. Saved my bacon.


  2. James Marow

    A really useful tip, when I thought I would never be able to access my time capsule files! Thanks

  3. You're awesome

    Thank you so so so so so much for posting this. I had a time capsule that I couldn’t transfer over to my new mac with the migration assistant. Thanks to your post I was able to retrieve all the files that I wanted off of it.


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