How to delete Time Machine backups on Mac

Dump old backups, save some space

Time Machine

Do you have a single Time Machine drive that you use to back up multiple Macs? Or a Time Machine drive you were using before upgrading computers? If these apply to you - or for other reasons - you may risk running out of drive space. Fortunately, there's an extremely easy way to get that space back by deleting these old backups, and you can do it right from within the Time Machine interface. Continue reading and we'll show you how to delete your old Time Machine backup files.

To begin deleting your old Time Machine backups from your drive, perform the following steps:

1. Plug in your external drive containing your Time Machine backups.

2. Open the Finder.

3. Activate Time Machine with the Finder visible by clicking the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and selecting Enter Time Machine (or by launching the Time Machine app from /Applications).

4. Navigate to the drive containing your backups from within the Time Machine interface and open the Backups.db followed by the computer you wish to delete backups for.

5. Select an old backup folder (titled by date of backup).

6. Click the Action (gear) icon in the Finder window, and select "Delete Backup."

Time Machine
The Time Machine interface is useful for more than finding old files - you can also delete unneeded backups.

When you click this, Time Machine will spring to live, and will begin to delete the old backup files. Keep the drive connected while the old files are removed. Once they are removed, you can unplug the drive.

This will only remove the selected backups, but use caution to delete only the backups that are no longer in use. By doing this, you free up space that Time Machine is currently using. Time Machine will periodically remove old backup files during the backup process, but doing this can help free up space on a shared drive even quicker.