TUTORIAL: Disable Time Machine Local Backups in Mac OS X Lion

On April 10, 2012

Since the release of Mac OS X Lion you might have noticed that your Hard Drive seems to keep shrinking, when you delete something you don’t seem to gain any additional space, well the reason for this is that Lion brought with it a new feature “Local Backups”

Called snapshots, this seems to be kicked off when your primary Mac is a laptop and the Time Machine backup is an external drive, so OS X Lion compensates for the potentially unavailable external disk by keeping an additional backup locally on the Macs primary hard drive.

The good thing about this is that you can restore to past Time Machine backups right away from anywhere, however if you are in need of this space then the feature can be rather annoying. So here is a tutorial on how to disable the local snapshots and regain your free space.

Note: Time Machine local backups are only stored if you have Time Machine enabled in general.

Disable Time Machine Local Backup Storage

Here’s how to turn off local backups:

  • Launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities
  • Enter the following command:

sudo tmutil disablelocal

  • Enter the admin password when requested to disable local backups

Re-Enable Local Time Machine Backups

Now once you have regained your space, you might want to turn the local Time Machine Backups back on, so without further ado, here is the reversal process.

  • Launch Terminal from /Applications/Utilities
  • Enter the following command:

sudo tmutil enablelocal