Suppose time machine has the following snapshots saved:

Weekly snapshots (12 total):

  • 1/1/2020 ...
  • 2/1/2020 ...
  • 3/1/2020

4/1/2020 will be 13th weekly snapshot which would fill the drive; 1/1/2020 will be deleted as it is the oldest.

What if I want a quarterly scheme when purging instead:

  • 1/1/2020 is saved as start of a quarter.
  • 1/8/2020 is deleted instead
  • 2/1/2020
  • 3/1/2020 will also be saved in the future

I know there are timestamped directories that I could delete, but what of the hard-links that time machine utilizes for incremental backups?

  • You had two questions in here. This site works better when there is only one question per question. That way, it's easier for other people to find solutions if they have the same problem.
    – nohillside
    Jan 16, 2022 at 19:28
  • In my experience, TM does one job, with very few configuration options. Attempts to make it do something else usually end badly.
    – benwiggy
    Jan 16, 2022 at 22:13
  • What macOS? Is TM disk APFS or HFS?
    – Gilby
    Jan 16, 2022 at 22:21
  • 1
    You don't. You use something other than Time Machine to do backups. Not hard. Jan 17, 2022 at 0:25

1 Answer 1


While you probably could remove timeslices manually (and let the OS handle hardlinks), it may not be wise to tamper with the way Time Machine handles the backup history. If you mess up (even by accident), you may end up with no useable backup at all.

What might be easier to do is to take full-image snapshots with tools like SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner at specific points in time (e.g. before major upgrades) and store these snapshots on separate drives.

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