How To Delete Time Machine Backups

Time Machine is there to help you out when tragedy happens. For instance, suppose you have to remove the boot drive, and then install macOS completely from the beginning. In that scenario, Time Machine backups allow you to keep your entire data and files like it was as if nothing had took place.

If you are diligent with backups, the old backup files can quickly pile up on your external or network drive. There are a couple of methods to remove old backup files and get some extra space. If you’re struggling to delete the Time Machine backups from Trash, a simple Terminal command does the trick!

The next sections provide brief instructions on how to make use of every one of the Time Machine removal methods.

Deleting Time Machine Backups

You can erase old backups through Time Machine or Finder. Both methods require connecting to your network drive or external drive and the following instructions assume that you’re connected.

Remove old Time Machine Backups using Finder

  1. Start “ Finder“ and select the location that contains Your Time Machine backups.
  2. Browse into your „Backups.backupdb“ directory to find the files that are old. By default, they’re ordered from oldest to the latest.
  3. Choose the one you wish to remove and then click “ command + trackpad-click“ or make use of the two-finger tap to open the pop-up with additional options.
  4. Click „Move to Trash“ to remove the files.
  5. Move your cursor over that Trash Can icon in your Dock, then do two fingers taps or „control + trackpad-click“ to reveal the options. Choose „Empty Trash“ to delete permanently the backups from the past, to make sure they’re gone forever. You can also choose “ Open“ to erase the individual files, if you prefer to keep the other items you trashed.

The deletion of Time Machine Backups within the App

  1. Tap or click on the Time Machine icon in the menu bar, then browse through the backup files until you find the one you wish to remove.
  2. Select any or all the old backup files, then select the gear icon on the Menu bar to display the drop-down list. Choose “ Delete Backup of…“ and you’re done.

Using Terminal to Delete Time Machine Backups

Certain users may encounter issues when they delete backups Trash. To resolve this issue, make use of a simple Terminal command.

  1. Press „c ommand + space“ on your keyboard. Then enter „ter“ without quotes. Click „Enter“ or Select „“ from the results of a search to start“Terminal. „Terminal.“
  2. Write “ sudo rm -rf ~/.Trash/“ without quotes without quotesin your command line, and hit “ Enter“ to run it.
  3. The screen will prompt you to input your administrator’s password. Input it in, and hit “ Enter“ to confirm. If it’s working you’ll be able to see a new entry line for commands.

Note: If the command line option above fails, resulting in „Operation not permitted,“ you need to grant to the terminal „Full Disk Access.“

This command is intended in order to clear the rubbish container completely through the Root user. This is the reason it requires administrative rights.

Do not forget to set your “ Full Disk Access“ option in “ Off“ in the Terminal If you’d like to keep the original security settings. Visit “ Security & Privacy“ to alter it, as you can see in the image prior to.

Quick Trash Fixes for Deleting Time Machine Backups

  • A restart or a reboot will usually be enough to restore control over Trash and this is the location where you keep your „deletable“ backups reside that you put there.
  • If this step does not work, there’s the option of forcing deletion of the files. Start by opening “ Trash“ and then select “ Secure Empty Trash,“ or you can use Finder. There are some users who get this „The operation could not be completed because the item is locked.“ error. In this situation it is recommended to change the names of the folders/files with names that are unusual, i.e., those that contain special characters or symbols. You can also examine the files using“Get Info“ “ Get Info“ option to check if any of them are locked.