About Time Machine local snapshots

Time Machine lets you restore files from local snapshots of the files on your Mac, even when your Time Machine backup disk isn't available.

Your Time Machine backup disk might not always be available, so Time Machine also stores some of its backups on your Mac. These backups are called local snapshots.

How to use local snapshots

When your backup disk isn't available, Time Machine automatically uses local snapshots to help you restore files. Reconnect your backup disk to make even more backups available.

Learn how to restore files from Time Machine.

Time Machine window

How local snapshots use storage space

You don't need to think about how much storage space local snapshots are using, because they don't use space needed for tasks like downloading files, copying files, or installing new software.

Your Mac counts the space used by snapshots as available storage. Even so, Time Machine stores snapshots only on disks that have plenty of free space, and it automatically deletes snapshots as they age or as space is needed for other things.

If you want to delete local snapshots manually, turn off Time Machine temporarily:

  1. Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu  in the menu bar. Or choose Apple menu  > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
  2. Deselect ”Back Up Automatically” or click the Off/On switch, depending on what you see in Time Machine preferences.
  3. Wait a few minutes to allow the local snapshots to be deleted. Then turn on Time Machine again. It remembers your backup disks.

How often local snapshots are saved

Time Machine saves one snapshot of your startup disk approximately every hour, and keeps it for 24 hours. It keeps an additional snapshot of your last successful Time Machine backup until space is needed. And in macOS High Sierra or later, another snapshot is saved before installing any macOS update.

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