There aren’s viable ways to do this. Moreover, other controls are equally effective and less hassle/risk to implement. By watching what’s actually changing week to week and skipping less needed items if you can’t afford a storage to have a time interval of data you prefer (18 months of snapshots, for example). Also, the command line tools for deleting a specific file or folder lets you surgically reclaim space and manage things other than forcing a brute force prune.
- get a physical drive or two
- avoid network backups as your only destination, especially if they are RAID or don’t have a backup.
I much prefer to let the backup grow to take all available space if needed and just look at things when I set it up - maybe once every three days for a week or two then once a week or once a month till you are comfortable about the growth.
When I find there's something taking a lot of space and I don't want it backed up - say the iPhotos library on a portable when the master library is in iCloud and synced to a Mac mini at home - I don't need to back up the optimized version on the MacBook. Set Time Machine to exclude the library and then I go into Time Machine interface and select that library and use the gear control to delete all backups of that library file. (folder / package to be correct in the case of Photos).
This way, I have just the files I need backed up and no hassle guessing sizes before hand and restricting things. I always can get notified when the oldest backup gets cleaned and can see the space grow.
Lastly - I use a very slick tool that could help you analyze and alert you to large backup intervals.
You can do much of what it does manually with
tmutil compare but I love the ease and graphs it provides.