Manually restoring individual files and folders
You can access the contents of a disk image the same way that you access other volumes and external hard drives on OS X. Double-click on the disk image file to mount its filesystem, then navigate the filesystem in the Finder to access individual files and folders. If you have the permission to access the files that you would like to restore, simply drag those items to the volume that you would like to restore them to.
Restoring individual items or an entire disk image to another hard drive using CCC
While you cannot boot OS X from a disk image directly, you can restore the disk image to a volume. When you use CCC to restore the disk image to a volume, the resulting restored volume will be bootable (assuming that you had initially backed up a bootable system). To restore files or an entire filesystem from a disk image:
- Launch CCC
- Select "Restore from disk image" from the Source menu and locate your backup disk image. CCC will mount the disk image for you.
- Choose a volume from the Destination menu. You may choose the startup disk as a destination, but CCC will not permit you to restore system files to the currently-running OS.
- Select "Preserve newer files, don't delete anything" from the preconfigured settings menu.
- Deselect any items from the list of items to be copied that you do not want to restore.
- Click the Clone button.
Restoring system files to your startup disk
If you want to restore system files to your startup disk, you must start up your Macintosh from an installation of OS X on another hard drive, such as a bootable backup created by CCC. Once you have booted your Mac from another volume, follow the steps from the previous section, but choose the "Temporarily archive modified and deleted items" preset instead.
Restoring system files to your startup disk when you don't have a bootable backup
If you do not have an installation of OS X on another hard drive, you can boot your Mac from your OS X Installer DVD (Snow Leopard) or from Apple's Internet Recovery server (Lion+ — see below) and use Disk Utility to restore the entire disk image.
- Reboot your computer from the OS X Installer DVD or hold down Command+R on startup to boot from the Apple Internet Recovery server
- After the Installer application loads, choose "Disk Utility" from the Utilities menu
- From the File menu, choose "Open Disk Image..." and locate the disk image that you would like to restore
- In the list in the pane on the left, click on the mounted disk image's volume
- Click on the "Restore" tab on the right side of the window
- Drag the mounted disk image to the Source field. If the Source field does not accept the dragged volume, right-click on the disk image's mounted volume and choose "Set as source" from the contextual menu.
- Drag the hard drive that you would like to restore to into the "Destination" field
- Check the box to erase the destination (if present), then click on the Restore button.
After you have restored your disk image, do the following to create a Recovery HD volume (Lion+, this video demonstrates the process):
- Click on the hard drive device in the list on the left (the volumes have names that you see in the Finder, like "Macintosh HD" whereas the hard drive device has a name that includes the size of the hard drive and a vendor name or serial number, like "111.8 GB ST9129876A")
- Click on the Partition tab
- Click the "+" button to add a new volume
- Manually set the size to 650MB (or 1GB, if that is the smallest you can specify)
- Set the name of the new volume to "Recovery HD"
- Click the Apply button
- Restart your Mac from your newly restored volume, then use CCC to restore the Recovery HD volume from the archive on your startup disk.
If you have a clean installation of OS X and simply want to restore your user data from a full-system backup on a disk image, you can use Migration Assistant for this task. Simply mount the disk image, then open Migration Assistant and proceed as directed, using the mounted disk image as the source. Note that Migration Assistant will only accept a disk image that has a full system backup, it will not accept a disk image that has only user data.
Migration Assistant and Mavericks
On Mavericks, Migration Assistant will ask that you close all applications, and it will then log you out before presenting migration options. This poses a problem for migrating data from a disk image because the disk image will be unmounted when you are logged out, and Migration Assistant doesn't offer any interface to choose a disk image. To work around this problem, you can use our Mount disk image for Migration Assistant application. Simply drag the disk image containing your full system backup onto the application and it will guide you through a fairly simple procedure that will make the disk image available to Migration Assistant after a short delay.