Time Machine is very important for a Mac as it keeps all the backups of the Mac. Although it works well on Mac, some issues have been witnessed where it stuck while preparing backups for Mac. It takes time and backup never starts during the whole time. We need to fix this issue as we need to back up our data many times if we are using a macOS. The applications for macOS operate really well but as we all know we can’t expect a machine or an application to be 100% accurate and smooth. There are always drawbacks.

It is obvious that if we don’t back up our Mac for a while, let’s say for five months, then it would take a few hours to start working. If there is a huge volume, it can take more than 12 hours as well. If it takes more than a day and Preparing Backup doesn’t start, then you have a problem there that needs to be resolved. In this article, I am going to help you in resolving this time machine issue. You need to read and follow the instructions carefully as we are going to deal with the files saved in back up drive too, so we need to find the exact file of our need at the right time.


We need to go through some Troubleshooting processes to solve our problem and getting things ready for macOS again.

First, we need to force quit already failing backup attempt while it is stuck on preparing the backup.

  • Open Apple Menu -> System Preferences -> Time Machine;
  • Stop and exit Time Machine;
  • When it disappears, we are good to go forward then.  

Аnd after that we can go to the next stages:

Trash the inProgress File

  • First, we need to trash the time machine placeholder file that can be found in backup drive easily.
  • Now, open your time machine drive in the Finder, navigate to “Backups.backupd” folder there.
  • In “Backups.backupd” you will find the name of the Mac you’re using. Open that folder.
  • You need to find the file with name inProgress. Use the search bar there to find it quickly.
  • You can also change the directory into “list view” and sort by “date modified” to find things easily.
time machine preparing backup

Now delete the inProgress file there

There is a specific form of that file. Its name is just something like that xxxx-xx-xx-xxxxxx. The first eight digits are year-month-day and the last six are just random number. You can identify that file from there signs.

The file size is very small i.e. about 3kb. It doesn’t take time to get out of the system. This is the file that was troubling your system. You need to get rid of this file.

Read more: Quickly Copy a File or Folder Path to the Clipboard in Mac OS X

Reboot your Mac

Rebooting is very important. Don’t detach your Time Machine from the Mac while rebooting. It takes a few minutes. After its done, lets Spotlight run properly.

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Rebooting may cause your Mac OS X to re-index the attached Time Machine. This might be the case that causing your time machine to be stuck at preparing the backup. It is better to reboot before running the whole process again. It is good for Mac to perform well.

Initiate the Backup After Rebooting

After rebooting while time machine connected to your Mac OS X, you are ready to start back up now. It should work in a way you wanted before.

Open Time machine and click on the Back Up Now to start the process again.

time machine preparing backup

You will see the preparing backup, but it will disappear after a few minutes as we have reset all the things. Now, your time just depends on the speed of the Mac OS X and data that needs to be backed up. Now, you don’t need to worry about the bugs there as the system is well programmed by us to sort things out.

There are few other ways to resolve the issue but those are a bit more technical and difficult for most of the users. I have explained the easiest one for the audience. Just follow the instructions and consider your work done.

It’s the best time to ask questions and give us your feedback in comments.


Hi there! My Name is Vincent Lago! My goal is to share insightful reviews, guides, and manuals for people looking to know more about current solutions for Apple hardware and OS. I have years of technological background knowledge including owning a custom iMacs & PCs which was using for different types of business. And now, I want to share my experience with you.

1 Comment

  1. Holy cow I have been having this struggle for the past couple of months and your article has cleared that up for me!! I am so grateful for your article and website for keeping me from going insane!

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