Free Up Space — Remove Time Machine Snapshots

I started using Time Machine again for backups a few months ago. I stopped using it because it had a few issues and would not work on APFS volumes. Now that Time Machine works on AFPS volumes in Big Sur, I am back to using it. One of the problems with Time Machine is it uses a lot of space on your hard drive. Snapshots are part of that space hogging. Because Snapshots take so much space, I decided to thin them out a bit. Here is how you can thin or delete Time Machine snapshots.

Thin Snapshots

Time Machine snapshots are useful for restoring your Mac to a certain saved state. You can still find and replace files and folders using the traditional Time Machine interface without snapshots. The problem is snapshots can take up a lot of disk space. Sometimes a snapshot can be as large as 1 GB. If you are running snapshots all day long, the space they use can add up.

What I have chosen to do is to “Thin” snapshots using third-party Apps.1 The App I use the most to “Thin” snapshots is Cocktail, a very handy Mac utility. In the main window of Cocktail, just click on the “System Tab”.

Once you are in the System area, click on the “Time Machine Tab”.

Inside this area you will see the “local snapshots” area.

When you click on Thin, the Cocktail App goes through and deletes most of your local snapshots. If you have a few days worth of snapshots, it will leave a few.

You can also choose to Delete your local snapshots in this App.

Just click on the dropdown menu, choose Delete and you are good.

There are other Apps that allow you to Thin or Delete local snapshots. Here is what that looks like in the Onyx utility.

And, here it is in CleanMyMac.

I am certain there are other Apps that perform this function, but you get the idea.

Conclusion

If you believe you need to keep local snapshots, by all means do so. However, if you would like to free up some drive space, then thinning or deleting them would be helpful.

  1. You can Delete them as well.