How to Free Up Space on your Mac by Deleting Old Backups


Backups are necessary as they save your day from eventualities like hard drive failure and malware attack. If you tend to take backups on your devices other than Mac, then you probably know how complicated task it is. Thankfully on your Mac, you needn’t do that manually.

The built-in Time Machine utility on your Mac does the all heavy lifting for you. It creates backups automatically on regular intervals so that you can restore them when needed. In addition to regular backups, Time Machine also comes with an added feature of creating local snapshots. It is done to ease your backup process. Even if you disconnect your MacBook from its external hard drive, you will be able to access backups with these snapshots.  Basically, it is done through backups stored on internal device storage.

Why Local Snapshots are important?

Well, local snapshots create backup on your device internal storage. Thus, you can restore your backups even if you don’t have access to your external backup drive. While this is a useful built-in feature, but it has a negative effect too. The backups created on your Mac could consume a lot of disk space, sometimes in 100s of GBs.

Why you should delete old backups?

As we discussed old backups could consume hundreds of GBs, it is wise to get rid of them on timely basis to free up space on Mac. The good news is Time Machine do it automatically for you to clean up Mac hard drive. It deletes all old backups on timely manner to keep your system in good health.

Now that we know that you would require external hard drive storage to store Time Machine backups, why your system hard drive is full? Well, it is because of local snapshots. Once the Time Machine is set up, it will start creating local snapshots automatically. It creates one local snapshot in every 24 hours and also creates weekly snapshots. These weekly snapshots are stored on your Mac internal hard drive. Thus, it ends up accumulating a lot of unnecessary data over the period of time.

How to free up disk space on Mac by deleting old backups?

Now that we know Time Machine deletes old backups automatically after a specified time to keep your system clean. It replaces new backups by deleting old backups. In addition to that, it also deletes oldest snapshot backups automatically once your system internal storage reach 20% of storage space left. If your system storage has reached less than 10%, then it will delete all local old snapshots except the most recent. This process is done automatically, thus you needn’t to worry about it very often. But, what if you need storage space immediately for some important file or program and your system doesn’t have required space?

In such a situation, you can consider deleting old backups manually. To do this, you can try Terminal command on your Mac to disable Time Machine’s local snapshot feature. It will eventually delete all local snapshots on internal hard drive. In addition to that, Time Machine will also be stopped from creating new local snapshots on your system.

To disable local snapshots and remove old backups from internal storage using Time Machine, follow these steps:

  • Go to Time Machine menu bar and open Time Machine Preferences.
  • Here, you need to uncheck Back up Automatically
  • You need to wait for few minutes to let the local snapshots deleted.
  • Check Back up Automatically
  • You’re done.

disk space on Mac

How to clear disk space on Mac?

Now that you have tried one method to free up space on Mac, you can also use best Mac cleaner tools to clean up Mac hard drive. One such tool is Smart Mac Care that works on advanced algorithms to clean your system drive and keeps its privacy and security intact. It works on 3 unique cleaning modules including junk scan, malware scan, and privacy scan to provide complete cleaning and security.

How to clear disk space on Mac


Now this was a quick discussion on how to free up space on Mac by deleting old backups and getting rid of other junk. Do try these steps and don’t forget to share your experience in the comments below.

Summary: – Built-in Time Machine utility on your Mac creates automatic backups on regular intervals. Let’s discuss how to free up space on your Mac by deleting old backups.