Out of curiosity, I'm wondering where in the file system Time Machine stores its local backups/snapshots.

  • This seems likely to be a common question. Have you tried looking to see if there's already an answer to this on the site? – Chris Page Jan 3 '14 at 1:22

The actual data is stored in a hidden directory called .MobileBackups at the root of the volume.

There is a special virtual filesystem type called mtmfs which translates the raw data in these hidden directories into a virtual Time Machine drive which is automatically mounted on /Volumes/MobileBackups

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    Not sure if this works for El Captain anymore, I can't find anything at least. I cd'd into volumes and did a ls -a (which shows all files, so including the hidden ones, in a directory) which gave nothing, tried this in both recovery and normal boot mode. Did the same thing for the root volume. – rien333 Jan 23 '16 at 20:46
  • I can still see it on my El Capitan laptop (10.11.4). /Volumes/MobileBackups exists and has a Backups.backupdb directory inside it. It's still a mtmfs mount according to mount, and I'm pretty sure the actual data is still stored in /.MobileBackups but the format has changed. – Kris Shannon May 14 '16 at 16:07
  • 1
    Doesn't work on Mojavi – geoidesic Jun 6 '19 at 9:05

Under the new file system in High Sierra (Apple File System (APFS)), this it is different. You can see what is considered the "local backups" via command line like this:

sudo tmutil listlocalsnapshots /

Ones that are listed as "(dateless)" will cause all sorts of problems:

com.apple.TimeMachine.2017-12-23-090037 (dataless)

so you can delete any backup by command line like this (deletes the one listed above, note only date used in reference):

sudo tmutil deletelocalsnapshots 2017-12-23-090037

Note that in my latest problem with macOS, the "bird" process was eating up egregious amounts of CPU. It was suggested that dumping backups that were damaged (damaged, who knew?) would help.

| improve this answer | |
  • This should be the accepted answer. This is the correct practice. – Kevin Lemaire May 6 at 12:16

They are stored on your hard drive in the folder entitled:

| improve this answer | |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .