I have spent years tinkering with complex features in Windows but am new to the Mac. Time machine is not as straight forward as it appears. The scenario I am looking to do, is within the Time Machine application, I would like to delete one or more backups that were made in the middle but leave some of the oldest earliest backups, and of course keep the most current backups. This is to recover space and keep a record of my system as it was in certain known points in time just in case. I use an external hard drive that is formatted in Mac format (HFS).

The Time Machine UI permits deleting all backups and deleting all backups before a given point but it does not seem to have an option to blow away just a specified backup (or backups) in the middle.

Is there a way to do this using the Time Machine UI?

1 Answer 1


You can do this with the Time Machine CLI: tmutil delete /path/to/backup

$ tmutil listbackups
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-04-142408
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-05-003504
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-06-005409
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-07-014517
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-08-023925
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-09-040035
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-10-043920
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-11-055340
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-12-063921
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-13-075323
/Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-14-085121

$ sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-10-043920
Deleting: /Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-10-043920
Deleted (149.0M): /Volumes/Mac SSD TM/Backups.backupdb/g/2018-01-10-043920
Total deleted: 149.0M

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