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How to get Time Machine on a Mac to work

I've only recently started using Time Machine and have an external drive.  What is the correct way to get Time Machine to do a periodic backup when I want it to all happen in the background whilst I sleep and shut the lid of my mac book air?  Do I just plug in the USB cable or do I have to do something before I shut the screen?
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strung
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Plug in the external drive.

Open Disk Utility (found in /Applications/Utilities) and use it to completely erase the external drive and reformat it as Apple Extended Format (Journalled).

Go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Time Machine

Check the button for "Show Time Machine in the Menubar".

Turn Time Machine On.

Click on Select Disk and select the external drive.

Time machine will then automatically do an incremental backup whenever the external drive is attached.
Doesn't the MacBook Air sleep when shut? In that case, it won't wake up to do TImeMachine.
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Note that you have to enable Power Nap in the Energy Saver prefs.
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Will try this next week and revert, thanks.