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How to Fix Time Machine Stuck on Preparing Backup on macOS 10.15

Whether you’re using macOS 10.15 Catalina or any other macOS you might at times come across an unpleasant backup stuck process in Time Machine. Time Machine makes backup so easy and convenient. However, you might want to know what to do when Time Machine is stuck on “preparing backup” in macOS 10.15 Catalina once you realize the process is heading nowhere and there’s no progress. Time Machine ensures backups are done automatically and that they’re carried out effectively without any intrusion. However, the critical Mac tool could get jammed or frozen.

Is Time Machine Stuck in Preparing Backup Process?

One of the most critical tools you’ve in a Mac, Time Machine comes with lots of important capabilities to make backup fast and convenient. The idea is ensuring the backup process takes the shortest time possible and that the process itself is successful. However, in trying to do so Time Machine might take a while to prepare for a backup. Time machine stuck in preparing backup in macOS 10.15 Catalina can happen when you least expect it.

In macOS, an inventory system in Time Machine is created and integrated with the file system where any changed file in whatever fashion ends up being logged. In the process, the file is compared by Time Machine against files inventory in its system. As a result, the process of contrasting logs compels Time Machine to come up with incremental backups that take the shortest time possible to create while ensuring files have been fully backed up.

Essentially, the preparing backup procedure is usually very rapid and takes the shortest time possible unless new files have been added or some big transformations have been executed. Time Machine backup preparation is so fast you probably have never realized it actually takes place except for those backing up in Time Machine for the first time. Even so, before you learn how to fix time machine when it freezes on “preparing backup” on macOS 10.15 Catalina, understand that the process could be taking too long and not really stuck for various reasons including:

  • Data size being too large, meaning hard drive is so large(such as data in terabytes) and yet must be backed up
  • Mac having a problem such as an old hard drive, slow Mac or attacked by a malware or virus
  • Data hasn’t been backed up for a while, such as a couple of months

What to Do When Time Machine Stuck in Preparing Backup in macOS 10.15 Catalina

Halt the backup process ongoing: Once you realize the process is stuck stop the attempt first.

Step 1: In Time Machine go to settings in System Preferences either from Time Machine or Apple Menus

Step 2: find the “x” icon and click it until the process of backing up ends

Find .inProgress File

Once the earlier attempt is stopped, remove the placeholder Time Machine file/.inProgress file.

Step 1: In Time Machine use Finder to access the folder for “Backups. Backup”

Step 2: In “Backups. backup” ensure folder is opened, which is your Mac’s current name that the process of preparing gets stuck in

Step 3: Search for “.inProgress” file and delete it (usually something like “xxx-xx-xx-xxxxxx.inProgress”)

Remove Spotlight Interferences

Since Spotlight could interfere with the process of preparation in Time Machine as it carries out Time Machine volume backup indexing, it needs to be stopped by ensuring it has been added to the Spotlight preference’s Privacy tab.

Step 1: In System Preferences press Dock icon or choose it from Apple Menu

Step 2: Find Spotlight preference in System Preferences’ Personal section

Step 3: Press Privacy tab

You can easily add the Time Machine volume backup by dragging and dropping it among the listed items that won’t be indexed. Go ahead and activate Time Machine once more to back up.


At times after having already removed .inProgress file you might need to reboot the device with the drive for Time Machine still connected. Then start a backup as you would do normally.

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Once you’re able to back up in Time Machine fast as ever it’s time to transform and manage your PDF documents with the best PDF management tool that works for everyone and everywhere; PDFelement for Mac. PDFelement for Mac comes with all the different tools you need to create, annotate, edit and convert PDFs and much more, such as securing them with permissions and digital signature as well as OCR functionality to help you transform typical scanned PDFs into editable documents.

Time Machine is stuck on “preparing backup” in macOS 10.15

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Time Machine is stuck on “preparing backup” in macOS 10.15

Home > macOS 10.15 > How to Fix Time Machine Stuck on Preparing Backup on macOS 10.15
Posted by to macOS 10.15
Published: Sep 13,2016 18:20 pm / Updated: Nov 15,2016 17:54 pm
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