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How can I delete a folder backed up via Time Machine to a .backupbundle disk image? When I try to delete the folder, I get the error message, "The operation can't be completed because backup items can't be modified."

I found a similar question, "How can I delete a file marked as backup item?" The accepted answer says that this is a bug that will be fixed in a coming update. Unfortunately, this answer was written in 2011 –– 11 years ago. I tried to comment on the answer, but I did not have enough reputation.

A little more precision regarding what you tried would be helpful. "when I Delete the folder". Which folder? Is that on the source disk, or is it in the backup? And how did you try to delete? Also what version of macOS and what format (HFS+ or APFS) is the backup disk image?

/Volumes/Time Machine Backups/Backups.backupdb/MacBook Pro (Retina)/2021-05-02-065359/Macintosh HD 1/Users/brianschack/Transmission Downloads

On the backup. I tried dragging the folder to the Trash in the Dock. macOS Big Sur 11.2.3. Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled).

The accepted answer on your linked questin is basically wrong. The highest voted answer is correct - you are trying to delete from a protected area. You cannot just delete Time Machine files from Finder.

@Ryccardo wrote the highest-voted answer to the question, "How can I delete a file marked as backup item?" He says, "[L]ocate the item in the 'in space' Time Machine view[.]" This is a backup of a computer that I traded in. When I go to the in-space Time Machine view on my current computer, it shows me the backup of my current computer –– not the computer that I traded in.

He also writes, "There exists a helper program (command-line binary) [...] which allows you to supply a command and argument to completely bypass the access restrictions." When I navigate to /System/Library/Extensions, I do not see TMSafetyNet.kext. In a different answer, @Evan Kroske writes, "It seems like the bypass program doesn't exist on Big Sur."

How can I delete a file marked as backup item?

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    A little more precision regarding what you tried would be helpful. "when I Delete the folder". Which folder? Is that on the source disk, or is it in the backup? And how did you try to delete? Also what version of macOS and what format (HFS+ or APFS) is the backup disk image?
    – Gilby
    Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 22:19
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    The accepted answer on your linked questin is basically wrong. The highest voted answer is correct - you are trying to delete from a protected area. You cannot just delete Time Machine files from Finder. See apple.stackexchange.com/q/22905/85275 apple.stackexchange.com/q/243853/85275 and apple.stackexchange.com/q/331653/85275
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 7:31
  • @Gilby I edited the question in reply to your comment. Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 14:40
  • Ah, that gets more complex, after your edit. You may be able to bypass the permissions, but that is still not going to make the task easier. That one file or folder you want to get rid of has another hard link in every single backup right down the history. Time Machine is able to track those & eliminate all links. Finder can't. A hard link is a 'pointer' to a file. There is only one real file, and every pointer points to the same file. The file is only actually deleted once every single pointer is removed. idk whether that could be done from terminal, it would need someone smarter than me.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 15:21
  • This is additionally complicated by the fact that Big Sur no longer uses HFS+ for Time Machine, but APFS. APFS can't use hard links, so the new Time Machine format is different again. Apple's advice for this dilemma is currently… Throw it away, store it on a shelf, or reformat & start over. [yup]
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 15:27

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