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How to Remove Time Machine Backup on macOS using Terminal

  • This guide provided two methods for deleting Time Machine backups on a Mac.

Welcome to our guide on removing Time Machine backups from your Mac. Time Machine is a macOS feature that excels in effortlessly creating both incremental and full system backups. It ensures your data’s safety and convenience in restoring it when needed. Yet, the catch is that these backups can consume a considerable amount of storage space.

Whether your Mac has terabytes of storage or not, at some point, you might want to reclaim that space by eliminating older Time Machine backups. Unfortunately, deleting them is not as straightforward as creating them. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. In this article, we will outline effective method to make the process hassle-free. Without further delay, let’s dive right in.

How to Remove Time Machine Backup on macOS using Terminal

How to Delete Time Machine Backup on Mac using Teminal

Before proceeding, please ensure that you are deleting the correct backup. We cannot be held responsible for any data loss or device issues resulting from the steps outlined below.

This method is compatible with various types of Time Machine backup drives, including the APFS format.

Step 1: If your Time Machine backup is on an external drive, make sure it’s connected to your Mac.

Step 2: Launch the Terminal application on your Mac. You can find it in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder.

Step 3: Type the following command and press Enter:

tmutil listbackups

This command will display a list of all your Time Machine backups.

Step 4: Execute the following command, replacing the placeholders with your specific information:

tmutil delete -d /path/to/backup/drive -t timestamp
  • Replace `/path/to/backup/drive` with the actual location where your backup is stored.
  • Replace `timestamp` with the name of the backup before the “.backup” extension. For instance, if the backup is named “2023-10-27-145361.backup,” the timestamp is “2023-10-27-145361.”

Step 5: After replacing these values in the command, run it to delete the chosen backup.

Step 6: To confirm that the backup has been deleted, you can use the following command:

tmutil listbackups

The deleted backup should no longer appear in the list.

By following these steps, you can delete a Time Machine backup using Terminal on your Mac.


In conclusion, you’ve learned two methods to delete Time Machine backups from your Mac. If you have any questions or need further assistance with the steps outlined above, please don’t hesitate to ask. We’re here to help, and we’ll respond to your queries as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this guide is intended to assist you in deleting Time Machine backups on your Mac. However, please be aware that performing these actions can result in data loss. It’s essential to exercise caution and ensure that you are deleting the correct backup before proceeding. We cannot be held responsible for any unintended consequences, including data loss, device issues, or any other adverse outcomes that may occur as a result of following the instructions provided in this guide. It is advisable to back up your data and proceed with care when deleting backups.

Alex Lim is a certified IT Technical Support Architect with over 15 years of experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting complex IT systems and networks. He has worked for leading IT companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, providing technical support and solutions to clients across various industries and sectors. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Singapore and a master’s degree in information security from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the author of several best-selling books on IT technical support, such as The IT Technical Support Handbook and Troubleshooting IT Systems and Networks. Alex lives in Bandar, Johore, Malaysia with his wife and two chilrdren. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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