The Time Machine tool on macOS is a great way to create backups of your data. Because it’s a native Apple tool, it integrates seamlessly with the operating system. You can set it and forget about it, safe in the knowledge you can restore your system in a few minutes if something goes awry.
But it’s not always set it and forget about it. Sometimes, you might see an error message that says the backup is too large for the backup disk.
What can you do? You’ll need to delete some of your old Time Machine backups to make space for the new ones. You have two methods to choose from. Keep reading to learn about them both.
Method 1: Use the Time Machine App
The easiest way to remove old backups (and the Apple-approved way) is to manage them through the Time Machine app. To delete old backups using Time Machine, use the following instructions:
- Connect your backup drive to your computer.
- Click on the Time Machine icon on the Menu Bar.
- Scroll through your backups and find the one you want to delete.
- Click on the Gear icon.
- Select Delete Backup.
- Agree with the on-screen confirmation.
- Enter your password.
Method 2: Use Finder
You can also delete backups using Finder. It’s just as easy:
- Open Finder.
- Connect your backup drive and wait for it to appear under Devices in the left-hand panel.
- Navigate to Backups.backupdb on the backup drive.
- Within Backups.backupdb, find the subfolder with your Mac’s name.
- You see a long list of subfolders organized by date.
- Delete the folder associated with the Time Machine backup you want to remove.
Note that you shouldn’t delete Time Machine backups via the trash can.
Want more space for your Time Machine backups or other data? Try these tricks to free up space on your Mac. And remember, you don’t have to use Time Machine to manage your backups. We’ve covered some of the best third-party backup tools for Mac elsewhere on the site.