If you use Time Machine on a Mac to back up your data, you may also have seen an increasing amount of locally stored backups that take up space on your hard drive. This is not a fault in the system, but only how Time Machine works. Should you wish to regain that space, then it is done.
For those who are not yet exploring the benefits of this useful tool, which comes free with all MacOS devices, look at how to use Time Machine to back up a Mac guide.
Why are there backups on my Mac?
While Time Machine uses external drives to store backups, there is also a component of the software that detects any changes to your system and stores them on your internal memory. Apple calls these "local snapshots" and says they're there to protect your data every time you don't have an external disk connected.
This may seem a bit presumptuous by Time Machine, but local snapshots are not treated in the same way as regular data on the unit.
macOS monitors the amount of space used by these files and should immediately delete them to make room for other things, such as programs you want to install, without even knowing. Older still images are also deleted periodically to preserve your storage features.
If you start the Time Machine app without a drive connected to your Mac, it will use the local snapshots to recover data and files that you hope to recover.
See how to recover files from Time Machine for a more complete overview of how the app works.
How can I delete the local stills?
There are two main methods for removing local still images from the hard drive. The first is to just turn off the Time Machine feature itself, which will then delete all the local snapshots stored on your Mac.
To do this, open System Preferences, select Time Machine, and then clear the Auto Backup check box.
Apple recommends giving it a few minutes for the local snapshots to be deleted, so you should see space left on the hard drive.
The second route is for when the first one fails, but it is not one we would recommend to anyone who is not familiar with the command line. So, if you're not sure about using code, it's probably better to try the first step sometimes again, and maybe contact Apple Support to see if they can help.
If you are happy to continue, open Finder and navigate to Applications> Tools> Terminal.
Enter the following command, press enter at the end:
sudo tmutil disablelocal
This will, as the last word suggests, disable the local snapshot feature of Time Machine, preventing it from creating something new and remove everything that already exists.
To enable the feature at any time, repeat the process, but this time, use the following command: [1
Hopefully one of these methods will give you that space you need on your Mac. For more options on keeping your data safe, you can also read how to back up a Mac guide.